The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven (1960) movie poster

(1960) dir. John Sturges
viewed: 03/25/03 at Castro Theater, SF, CA

Well, I can scratch another cinema classic off of my list of films that I have never seen. And for The Magnificent Seven, I was able to scratch it off in style, seeing it on the big screen in a beautiful 70mm print, in its true glory.

This is one of those movies that plays on television with great regularity, yet somehow I had never seen it. The musical score is iconic and utterly familiar, as are some of the film’s images, though I know that I have never seen the film as much of it was fresh to my eyes. And here is a shocking confession: I have also never seen Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samuarai (1954), the film from which The Magnificent Seven was adapted, another peak in the cinema landscape. I have actually come close to seeing it, but have wanted to catch it on the big screen, too. Anyways, though these films are greatly known and respected, I hadn’t seen them.

I had seen A Bug’s Life (1998), which also played off the same premise, however. Though with digitally animated insects.

The film itself is pretty magnificent. It’s an excellent popcorn Western from the tail end of the period of the classic Westerns from Hollywood. Highly slick and entertaining, with excellent performances by Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson, among many others.

Brynner is particularly striking. With his sort of ambiguous ethnicity, inflected in his appearance and his accent, he is the embodiment of cool, sexy and somewhat exotic. This is a thought that ran through my head a lot during the film, that you could tell who the good guys were because they were so damn cool. Brynner would have to be their leader, handsomely dressed in all black, he is the coolest of the cool. However, it must be said that he seems preposterously unlikely a real world cowboy. If only the real wild west were to have contained such cool, stand-up guys. Or maybe it did? Who knows?

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