By: Reel 127 (A Toast) –
A Mexican village is in trouble with local bandits and the only ones who can help them are a hired team of gunmen! The Magnificent Seven was originally created as a remake of the Japanese film Seven Samurai. Now a remake of the Magnificent Seven is coming out, talk about remake-squared! So let’s take a look back at the original Magnificent Seven, whose most lasting impact is creating the theme of Marlboro ads.
Back when cigarette ads were legal!
The cast is the most notable thing about this movie. After all the billing is in the title. You need to have a great cast put together for a “magnificent” group of seven. Boy did this film deliver with Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen. I was particularly impressed by how well they were able to balance the cast. Yul Brynner was clearly made to be the main character of the group, but at the same time they managed to give each character time to develop without getting too invested in one character over another. Also without taking away from the action of the story and pacing. This is one of the best early examples of a balanced ensemble cast.
King of Siam, Cowboy, and Rameses.
Is there any part a Russian can’t play?
One of the things to look for in Westerns is how well the cinematography is done. This is due to the large landscapes used for the location. Most Westerns take place in a single town, and Magnificent Seven switches that up with a main town but several other places along the way the cast goes to (much like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). With this change of pace for a Western there was a lot more work that went into the cinematography and it pays off in the end. The film was lucky enough to get Charles Lang as the cinematographer, a man with three decades of experience when this was made and at the peak of his work by then.
I appreciated that the story took the time to show that some of the people the Seven were helping didn’t want their help. That they were willing to deal with the bandits as a nuisance in their lives and that the Seven would just lead to bigger problems. It’s much easier to believe that there would be resistance within a community to a major change rather than everyone heralding these men as heroes. It’s things like this throughout the film that makes it more believable and as a result more enjoyable.
It’s a shame this film doesn’t get as much recognition as Butch Cassidy or Unforgiven. It’s a stand out of the genre that will continue to be as great as it is for decades to come. With the memorable cast and iconic score it would be hard for this to be forgotten over time.
Now I leave you with a song.
A song which will be stuck in your head for days.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time a random henchman is killed.
Do a Shot: every time one of the Seven is killed.
Finish Your Drink: when Calvera counts off the Seven.