Magnificent Seven, The (1960)

The Magnificent Seven (1960), produced and directed by John Sturges.

An adventure fantasy without any really serious moments. We spend a lot of time building up the heroic cast. (Could the same thing be said about Kurosawa's original? Have to think about that. Also reflect on which is better for seducing the viewer into a mythical setting: b&w 4:3 or color scope ratio? No answer to that one, I'm sure).

I never noticed before: the moving camera work during the village battle scenes is quite good. The pace flags when the gunfighters stop for self-reflection. In an odd twist our heroes have their butts handed to them and are kicked out of town, coming back for the big final 10 minutes.

They're all tough guys who know just what to do, that old "army buddy" thing they always have.

Curiously, Yul Brynner, a Russian/Jewish/Mongolian/Swiss Romani, is the master gunfighter and team leader. Horst Buchholz ("the German James Dean") plays Mexican, and Lithuanian-American Charles Bronson is supposed to be Irish-Mexican.

Eli Wallach is the bandit leader, one of his many "ethnic" roles. An aside: I remember an internet discussion once about "actor with the most ethnic roles". Wallach was a popular choice but I nominated Nestor Paiva, most often remembered as the boat captain in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). I suggested a companion competition for "actor least likely to have an ethnic role", that is, least likely to play anyone other than vanilla, white bread Anglo-Saxons. This takes some thought: even Rock Hudson was an Indian chief and John Wayne a Mongol warrior once. My nomination was Whit Bissell, who coincidentally is the undertaker at the start of this film.

Famous Elmer Bernstein score. Were some cues borrowed from the Japanese original?

Available on Blu-ray. The DVD is only middling.

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