The Magnificent Seven
Directed by: John Sturges Cast: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Horst Buccholz Running Time: 2 hrs 8 mins Rating: PG Due Out: August 2, 2011
PLOT: Seven cowboys are put under contract to protect a town from a destructive bandit named Calvera (Wallach).
WHO'S IT FOR?: Fans of classic westerns have probably already seen it, but likely not to this quality. Even individual fans of Charles Bronson or Steve McQueen will enjoy seeing the younger versions of these future action stars. Newcomers to the movie looking for a "Red Dead Revolver"-like action will be rewarded with something bigger, and more meaningful.
It doesn't take a film historian to see that The Magnificent Seven is a special moment in Hollywood, with its alignment of future stars and the whole franchise that it kicked off. This movie alone can stand as a highly entertaining western, with some great dialogue, performances, and of course, Elmer Bernstein's score (which truly puts the "magnificent" in the film's title). It even features a strangely robotic performance from Yul Brynner, who must've been the smaller proto-type for what we now know as Vin Diesel.
The Magnificent Seven might have a fairly awesome gun battle at the end, but this movie offers much more. Its truly their personal traits that make them "magnificent," and not their ability to mow thugs down with one pistol, or hop over obstacles in the course of a bullet bonanza. (Although, watching James Coburn toss knives at bad guys with little ease is a great thing to watch.) The men are all fairly self-less, as shown in sequences in which McQueen feeds the hungry children of the protected village, or when Bronson makes friends with four young boys who look up to him more than their own fathers.
In other movies, this comes off as cheesy, especially when it can be done so randomly; as if "nice guy" is a foot note to their general actions (like when Steven Seagal saves a puppy in the gloriously bad Out for Justice). Here, since it's the main focus, it comes as a quite sincere gesture, and as a great message to all soldiers of what their priorities should be.
The extras on this Blu-ray seem to come from earlier prints of this movie, which collectors should be aware of. If you don't already know the story of how this movie came together, however, it's a riveting behind-the-scenes that is certainly one worth exploring on this disc. (Note: All three extras had a weird problem where the entire image would take up less than 1/4 of the total screen. This is not a problem with other Blu-rays I have. Just something for buyers to be cautious of.)
Doing a bit of Googling on the movie after having viewed it, it surprised me that this '60s movie came before Vietnam. Watching a movie like this, one would think this would be prime war time viewing. Hopefully, it still is today.
MOVIE SCORE: 8/10
Guns for Hire - The Making of The Magnificent Seven Elmer Bernstein and The Magnificent Seven The Linen Book: Lost Images from The Magnificent Seven Original Theatrical Trailers Still Gallery Audio Commentary Featuring James Coburn, Eli Wallach, and Walter Mirisch