The Magnificent Seven

27 Apr

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Synopsis: The film is a remake of the Japanese masterpiece The Seven Samurai,  by Akira Kurosawa. Set in the post Civil War in Mexico and the bordering United States, a group of farmers from a Mexican village come north to hire gunmen to free their village from a ruthless gang of bandits.

Review: The music of the movie written by Elmer Bernstein stands alone as is less remembered for the film than it is for the Marlboro Man TV ads. However it is the combination of music and acting that make this the enjoyable, remembered movie classic that it has become.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, screen play by William Roberts,  directed and produced by John Sturges; a Mirisch-Alpha Picture released through United Artists. Running time: 126 minutes.
Chris . . . . . . . . Yul Brynner
Calvera . . . . . . Eli Wallach
Vin . . . . . . . . . Steve McQueen
Chico . . . . . . . Horst Buchholz
Harry . . . . . . . Brad Dexter
O’Reilly . . . . . Charles Bronson
Lee . . . . . . . . Robert Vaughn
Britt . . . . . . .  James Coburn
Old Man . . . . Vladimir Sokoloff
Petra . . . . . .  Rosenda Monteros
Hilario . . . . . Jorge Martinez de Hoyos

Yul Brenner’s character Chris is played with coolness, regret, compassion and wisdom. He understands very well what he is getting himself into when he accepts the farmers offer to help them save their village. Chris hand picks the gunmen he needs to rid the farm town of the desperadoes.

Eli Wallach plays the leader of the bandits Calvera. Wallach convinced the director that his character should have a gold tooth and a silver saddle on his horse. Wallach felt that bandits steal gold and silver, Hollywood westerns have never shown what the bad guys do with their spoils. The director, John Sturges agreed and that is how Wallach portrayed Calvera.

Steve McQueen made his screen debut as Vin a thinking man’s cowboy. He is philosophical about his choices and is always quoting wisdom passed down to him from his family and experience. Yul Brenner who had clout and casting control wanted McQueen in the picture and to his regret cast him. McQueen had his own ideas about his portrayal to the point of annoyance to Brenner who never hired McQueen again even tho sequels were made.

Horst Buchholz a German actor played Chico, (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers) a young naive would be gunslinger with more bravado than brains. His less than memorable performance paled in the face of Brenner and McQueen. He was a bit of comic relief and the young male who falls in love with a young Mexican farm girl.

Brad Dexter plays Harry Luck the least remembered character in the film. He is after a fortune of gold and silver he believes is in a nonexistent nearby mine and is the true motivation behind the others wanting to save the town. He really doesn’t do much here except whine about the low pay he will receive as well as carrying on about the fortune he expects to dig up.

Charles Bronson plays O’Reilly a half Mexican half Irish man who protects the children in the town as much as they try to protect him.

Robert Vaughn plays gunslinger Lee who secretly lost his nerve. He needs to prove to himself that he can still handle a gun. Chris after discovering Lee waiting for him in his room asks, “Thought you were looking for the Johnson brothers?” Lee comments, “I found them.” This gives Lee reason enough to run and hide.

James Coburn ( pre-In Like Flint) plays Britt the fastest gunslinger and knife thrower in the territory. He is both cool, fast and savvy. This is the film that made Coburn a star.

The film influenced the way modern westerns were made and has become an iconic western film in the process. It is available on Blu-ray and Netflix. This is a don’t miss classic.

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