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THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)
Director John Sturges helms this classic 1960 western that chronicles a small town's efforts to save itself from the depredations of a savage outlaw (Eli Wallach). When the town's citizens recruit seven American gunslingers headed by Yul Brynner (in his pre-robotic days) the stage is set for a guns-a-blazing showdown. Hollywood he-men Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn round out the take-no-prisoners cast.
The Director, John Sturges, created one of the all time great Westerns, with "The Magnificent Seven."
"They were seven - And they fought like seven hundred!"
The basic story involves seven gunmen being
hired by a poor Mexican village to protect it from 40 nasty
bandits, led by Bandit leader, Calver (Eli Wallach), the poster
boy for self-centeredness, heartlessness, and cruelty. His rationalization
for his gang's evil deeds was "If God did not want them
sheared, he wouldn't have made them sheep." Every year
before winter, Calvera and his motley thugs raid this village
for food stuffs for the winter, taking more and more each year,
leaving the farmers each time in the position of being closer
to starvation. In desperation, they turn to Chris Adams, a drifter
who is good with a gun, for help.
The film takes a while to get going, for a good reason though. Some regard this film as a character study of individuals, hardened by life and their own choices, who come together for a common purpose, and believe in variations of the same philosophy of self-autonomy, self-direction and personal honor. Taking some time for this character development helps explain to the audience why these men would agree to go up against the odds, for the principle of protecting the innocent from evil forces. Each of the seven characters are developed for the audience for a purpose in these scenes, which adds to the enjoyment of the action scenes later on, which are gripping and hold your attention.
My favorite scene involves the 7 talking to the newcomer, Chico (Buchholz.) As they tersely talk about the pros and cons of being a hired gun, we gain insight into the harsh and loveless world they occupy. Part of the conversation went like this:
Lee (Robert Vaughn), says,"Yes. The final
supreme idiocy. Coming here to hide. The deserter hiding out
in the middle
Vin (Steve McQueen) says, "We deal in lead, my friend."
Chico (Horst Buchholz): "But who made us the way we are, huh? Men with guns. Men like Calvera, and men like you... and now me."
Britt (James Coburn): "Nobody throws me my own guns and says run. Nobody."
There is humor sprinkled throughout the screenplay.
After Britt shoots a bandit off his horse, Chico is really impressed,
proclaiming enthusiastically, "That's the greatest shot
that I ever saw!" Honest Britt sets him straight. "The
worst! I was aiming at the horse."
The film is a classic because of its exciting
story, great cast, (Vaughn, Dexter, Bronson, Coburn, McQueen,
Brynner, and Wallach), and stirring musical score, composed by
Elmer Bernstein. The screenplay was written by Horst Buchholz,
and is an American remake of Akira Kurosawa's Japanese film, "The
Seven Samurai," which is still very highly regarded.