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magnificent seven

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 solid cast includes: Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Robert Vaughn.

The Director, John Sturges, created one of the all time great Westerns, with "The Magnificent Seven."

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"They were seven - And they fought like seven hundred!"

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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.

So, Chris Adams (Yule Brynner) rounds up the other gunfighters, who he thinks can defeat these Mexican bullies, and bring peace and life to this poor peasant village, willing to give them everything they have of value, which wasn't much. This impressed Chris, because he had never been paid with everything someone had before.

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
of a battlefield."

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."

During several attacks by the bandits, the 7 are tested to the max, as they must give their all to accomplish their goal."The Magnificent Seven" features great action scenes, pitting the 7 against the Mexican bandits. The scenes involving the bandits several invasions of the village, and shoot outs between the bandits and the 7, are examples of hell to leather action at its best.

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.

If you want to win a bet in a bar, ask a patron who's seen the movie if he can name the "Seven". Chances are they'll fail to name Buchholz or Dexter.

If you enjoyed THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, you may like
TRUE GRIT
, THE PROFESSIONALS, IT'S A BUG'S LIFE,
THE GREAT ESCAPE
, SILVERADO, YOJIMBO,
THE ROAD WARRIOR, and the original inspiration SEVEN SAMURAI.

 

magnificent-seven