In 1825 an English aristocrat is captured by Indians. He lives with them and begins to understand/accept their lifestyles. Eventually he is accepted as part of the tribe and becomes their ... See full summary »
A bandit terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with 7, each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to repulse an army of 40 bandits who will arrive wanting food. An Americanization of the film, Seven Samurai (1954) Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I recently subjected "The Magnificent Seven" to just about the toughest test imaginable--I watched it just a few days after "Seven Samurai." And while I'm not going to pretend it's on par with Kurosawa's astounding masterpiece, I have to tip my hat to Hollywood on this one: it's good, DAMN good, among the best American Westerns.
The focus of the screenplay is more on post-Bogart-pre-Eastwood cool banter than the gradual, taciturn character development of "Seven Samurai," but that doesn't mean that the film doesn't have a heart. Considering it clocks in at barely over two hours (compared to the marathonic three and a half of "Samurai"), it actually does a fantastic and very economical job of fleshing out its memorable cast of characters.
One particularly wonderful scene that stuck in my memory from the first time I saw the film ten years ago is the one where Lee (Robert Vaughn), drunk in the middle of the night, confesses his frailties and fear to two of the farmers. The scene (along with the general story of these down-and-out heroes) was groundbreaking in that it began the deconstruction and deromanticization of the Western hero which would be brought to fruition in Sergio Leone's unparalleled spaghetti Westerns.
The star-studded cast wouldn't hold up doing Shakespeare, but they're ideal in this gunslinging, cool-talking tough-guy adventure. As if a lineup of heroes that included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn wasn't enough, Eli Wallach steals the show as the Mexican bandit chief, a worthy precursor to his classic role "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." If the screenplay has a major flaw, it's that his character isn't featured more.
The score is, of course, one of the all-time classics. And while not as alive visually as the Japanese film that inspired it or the Italian Westerns it influenced, it's still mighty fine to look at, and the gunfights don't disappoint.
The pieces add up to one of the great entertaining films of all time, which still manages to be moving and morally aware despite its Hollywoodization of Kurosawa's vision.
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