Film Review – THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, USA, 128m, PG) ****
Western
dist. United Artists; pr co. The Mirisch Company / Alpha Productions; d. John Sturges; w. William Roberts; pr. John Sturges; ph. Charles Lang (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Elmer Bernstein; ed. Ferris Webster; ad. Edward Fitzgerald.
cast: Yul Brynner (Chris Larabee Adams), Eli Wallach (Calvera), Steve McQueen (Vin Tanner), Horst Buchholz (Chico), Charles Bronson (Bernardo O’Reilly), Robert Vaughn (Lee), Brad Dexter (Harry Luck), James Coburn (Britt), Jorge Martínez de Hoyos (Hilario), Vladimir Sokoloff (Old Man), Rosenda Monteros (Petra), Rico Alaniz (Sotero), Pepe Hern (Tomas), Natividad Vacío (Villager (as Natividad Vacio)), Mario Navarro (Boy with O’Reilly), Danny Bravo (Boy with O’Reilly), John A. Alonzo (Miguel), Val Avery (Henry), Whit Bissell (Chamlee), Robert J. Wilke (Wallace).
John Sturges’ remake of Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) is packed with iconic moments delivered with aplomb by a cast of future stars. A Mexican village is at the mercy of Wallach and his band of outlaws. The farming villagers are too afraid to fight for themselves and hire seven American gunslingers, led by Brynner, to help them fight back. The gunmen train the villagers to defend themselves and then plan a trap for the bandits. The film has become immensely popular over the years, largely due to its cast. Brynner is a commanding presence and McQueen the epitome of cool. Bronson and Coburn also get the opportunity to show their potential and Vaughn’s character is an interesting psychological contradiction. Buchholz is a little excitable as a proud Mexican out to prove himself. There are slow patches to navigate, but the shootouts are well-staged and exciting, if slightly over-choreographed. Bernstein’s rousing musical score has become a classic. Followed by three sequels – RETURN OF THE SEVEN (1966), GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1969) and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE! (1972) – and a TV series (1998-2000). Remade in 2016.
AAN: Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Elmer Bernstein).