The Magnificent Seven

Oh yes; continuing in the series of great classics, this evening we watched The Magnificent Seven (1960). Did those men do cool! Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Brad Dexter and, of course, Horst Buchholz as the kid (not to mention Eli Wallach as the bandit leader, Calvera). If I may brag pathetically, I actually saw Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai, thanks to my sixth form’s film society, before I did this film, which is closely modelled on it. In my opinion, both are still well worthwhile seeing. The Magnificent Seven has an excellent script. In addition to some great one-liners (‘In Texas, only the banks can rob the banks.’) and exchanges, it gets across the essential dilemma for the villagers – do they fight the parasitic, but intelligent, bandits or continue in a frustrating, but symbiotic, relationship? – and the essential paradox for the hired guns: ‘Only the farmers won. They are like the land. You are like the strong wind that rids the land of the locusts.’ Calvera’s puzzlement at the apparently altruistic behaviour of the gunmen is entirely credible. Some of the seven are seeking deliverance or redemption in one way or another, but their leader, Chris, is never able to explain why he decides to help the villagers. But we know, nevertheless, for this is what samurai do; ‘the path of the warrior is one of honour’.


  1. Hugo Kijne

    Maybe you should watch the first ‘True Grit’ with John Wayne before you see the Coen brothers’ version. The dialogues in the latter are much closer to Portis’ book but got a hilarious touch from the Coens.

  2. Vincent Eaton

    This film also made Steve McQueen’s career. His agent begged him not to take the film because he only had seven lines of dialogue. McQueen said, “Just watch me.” We did.

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