When a handful of settlers survive an Apache attack on their wagon train they must put their lives into the hands of Comanche Todd, a white man who has lived with the Comanches most of his ... 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 <email@example.com>
The first man Calvera kills near the beginning of the movie has no wounds on his back after being shot and falling to the ground. When the villagers run to the body to look at the man, there are two wounds on his back. See more »
The Magnificent Seven. So descriptive of what we are about to see; so much honor, dignity and anticipation in those three words. I remember the first time vividly, though some forty-five years ago. I'd come in at the end of it, and the final battle was underway. There was Brynner, trapped against doors that would not give way for his retreat, and here comes a shouting, hard-riding comrade to his rescue - doomed to be the first who would fall. Astonishing intensity of gunfire and a limping Steve McQueen thrusts himself into the fray. Next, a vested, gloved gunman rounds a corner, stops, spies movement inside a house, coolly holsters his gun, kicks open the door and engages three men in a swift, deadly gunfight. Ten minutes later it was all over but my passion had been stoked. It would be a long, long time before I would again miss an airing of The Mag 7 from it's beginning.
Chris, the leader: Of course it's easy to see now that the King and Chris were the two roles Yul Brynner was born to play. They belong to him alone (so far no actor has been able to improve them). As the first of the seven he brought the aura of absolute authority needed for the role of a man who would be universally respected and obeyed by other men who were his martial equal. Though at times he is typically stiff and larger than life in this performance, he does come across at other moments as relaxed and dry-humoured.
Calvera, the adversary: Eli Wallach gives a wonderful performance as the menacing, yet wise-cracking bandit boss with a delightfully cynical view of life. Though he is appropriately menacing, you just can't keep from smiling as he expounds his experience of robbing "one little bank" in Texas.
Vin, the cowboy-come-gunfighter: Steve McQueen gives the most natural performance of them all. He truly never seems to be acting; rather, he seems to actually be the character. His every movement, gesture and facial expression look uncannily genuine. A very, very cool screen persona.
O'Reilly, the professional: Though the odds are stacked against, this is nothing new for him. He has faced and won against even more intimidating odds. Several times. Charles Bronson plays the part as ... well, as Charles Bronson. Plain and simply, you don't fool with this guy. To say O'Reilly is a loner is a massive understatement. Who better to play him than the "friendless" Bronson?
Lee, the hider: Revealed as having 'lost his nerve' I related to Lee in a truthful way as I could not really relate to the other heroes (except in my fantasies). On the commentary track of the DVD James Coburn advises that when actors invariably discuss who would play what part in a remake, most choose the role of Lee for themselves. Reviewers have noted that the brooding and darkness evident in Seven Samurai is largely absent from this adaptation but it is Lee who brings a little of it to this film. In his introductory scene the music takes an ominous tone. It signals clearly that there is something a little "off" about this character. South-eastern accented - Georgia or the Carolinas, he is educated, stylish and a very fast gun, probably arrogantly so in his past. The character is perhaps stylistically modeled on the real-life Doc Holiday. Fascinatingly different, he remains ever in the background, has little contact with the rest. There are two small instances that reveal the depth of his desperation late in the film: A villager says 'only the dead are without fear'. At that moment there comes into his eyes a look of profound realization as the answer in those words dawns on him. Later, as he quietly prepares to leave the village, he rifles his pocket to find nothing there. You can see in him that he knows too well the emptiness of his chosen life. Robert Vaughn was an adroit casting choice.
Britt, the perfectionist: Terrific part for James Coburn and he acknowledges that he wanted this one badly. He also relates in the commentary that the part was given to him in a last-minute decision. How significant was Britt of the seven? As Coburn says "everyone remembers the guy with the knife". He was so right for the part - lanky, stern faced and growl-voiced. There's nothing very mysterious about Britt. He simply loves the challenge of the fight and revels in his own prowess
Harry Luck, the scoundrel: The least interesting of the seven and I also sense that he would lose in a gunfight against any of the others. Brad Dexter does his best with the part, and he's good, but the depth of character just wasn't there to elevate him to the stardom the others came to enjoy.
Chico, the rookie: Despising his origins he dresses like a quintessential gringo gunfighter. He is determined to live what he believes to be the romantic life of the fast gun. Horst Bucholtz, new to American audiences, really runs with the part. He does an outstanding job at bringing a frenetic energy to the role of the youngest of the seven who wants badly to prove himself to them. In the final battle he is tireless - racing, leaping, killing with abandon. Bucholtz never really topped this role in his career.
The movie has a lot going for it, not the least of which is Elmer Bernstein's scoring of every scene, some superb cinematography (the crossing of the stream by the seven, the ride of the bandits through the village - really beautiful stuff), and the adept staging of some key scenes - for example, the first face off between Chris and Calvera. Absolutely gripping.
As a film it's far from perfect but I'm giving it a 10 anyway. How can I not? I watched it twenty seven times and that was before I got the DVD.
20 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?