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"The Magnificent Seven" (Blu-ray) - (Daniel)
Daniel Ruwe
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
Special Features:

See Below


The Magnificent Seven is a Western based on famous Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai. Kurosawa’s film is near universally regarded as a tour de force, a truly brilliant and complex fun. The Magnificent Seven, though it follows the original movie almost shot for shot, is not. But it’s still fun.***

The Magnificent Seven may be an inferior remake, but then, the original is so good that it’s possible to be very much inferior indeed and still have a pretty good movie. The remake loses the sociological tensions of the original, the innovative camerawork, and the complex characters—but it is still a nice solid movie on its own terms.*** Really, any action movie that has Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn has a lot going for it going in. Brynner is Chris, a gunfighter who might be disillusioned if he had any illusions to begin with. McQueen is Chris’ sidekick Vin. He doesn’t actually have a motorcycle to ride but it is there in spirit.***

They form a band of gunfighters to defend a Mexican village from marauding bandits, led by the wonderful Eli Wallach as Calvera, playing the sort of character he would later play in films like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He’s good, especially when playing against Brynner’s cool-as-ice character Chris.***

The Seven have to overcome overwhelming odds (there seem to be roughly forty bandits, few of whom, fortunately, know how to aim), the mistrust of the villagers, and their own personal demons. Harry Luck (Robert Dexter) joins the mission because he is convinced that the villagers have a secret cache of treasure. Lee (Robert Vaughn) is on the run, afraid of losing his nerve. Their aren’t any characters with motivations of Shakespearean (or even Kurosawaean) complexity, but the fact that they have any motivation at all makes them superior to about ninety percent of action movie heroes.***


When the Seven confront the bandits, they opt for the stand-in-a-semicircle-with-no-cover method of attack, then they jump behind wooden tables when the shooting starts while firing their guns from the hip. It works pretty well, actually, because the seven of them gun down dozens of enemies.***

Of course, now every action movie made in the past ten years uses that basic idea, except now no one has any idea of where any character is in relation to another and there are always lots of CGI explosions in the background. It sucks. The Magnificent Seven is innocent; in that the gunfights make sense visually, but it paved the way for a lot of cinematic atrocities.***

As good as the casting is, perhaps the best thing about the movie is Elmer Bernstein’s score. In many ways, it is a precursor to Ennio Morricone’s scores in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns. Bernstein’s music is an essential part of the movie, as much a part of it as the setting or characters.***

Considering that any of the top five or six billed actors are cool enough to carry a movie alone, their combined efforts turn The Magnificent Seven into possibly the coolest movie ever. Director John Sturges masterfully leveraged his terrific cast and produced one of the most fun Westerns of the sixties.***

Unfortunately, the original’s success inspired a slew of bad sequels. Considering that four of the seven died in the first movie, the possibilities for a sequel were obviously limited. Of the original cast, only Yul Brynner had any desire to star in the sequel Return of the Seven, which turned into a poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted mess. That movie was followed by Guns of the Magnificent Seven and The Magnificent Seven Ride, neither of which starred any of the main cast (Christ was played by George Kennedy and Lee Van Clef), and both of which were forgettable. These movies aren’t worth watching, but are included in this set if anyone wants to watch them anyway. ***

Audio and Video:

The last film in this series came out a good twelve years later than the first one, so there are obviously some differences in how the films look. However, generally the films look very good. They are all presented in their original aspect ratios. ***

The audio for all four films is very good. All of them feature DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound. All of the sound effects are good, though the decade-long gap between the films is noticeable as the sound effects improve.

Special Features:

There are some pretty good extras on this set, including commentaries by producer Walter Mirisch, assistant director Robert Relyea, and actor James Coburn and Eli Wallach. There is several short documentaries; “Guns For Hire: The Making of the Magnificent Seven,” “The Linen Book; Lost Images From the Magnificent Seven,” and Elmer Bernstein and the Magnificent Seven.” There is also a still picture gallery and the original trailers.

Final Words:

A Great Film get it on Blu-ray now


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