SVS: “The Magnificent Seven”

SVS: “The Magnificent Seven” May 9, 2014

MSevenPosterY’all remember that I love Westerns, right?

So the fact that I’m recommending one of the greats today — John Sturges’ legendary The Magnificent Seven — should come as a surprise to no one.

It’s streaming on AMAZON PRIME. Go thou forth and watch it and have an absolute blast.

Fed up with being brutalized and impoverished because of outlaw raids led by a merciless brigand, the besieged citizens of a small Mexican town hire seven American gunslingers to stave off the marauders once and for all.

I’m tempted to say that I’d be willing to recommend this film even if the only thing about it worth praising was Elmer Bernstein’s rousing score — which, yes, is really that good. Luckily, though, I don’t have to recommend it for the music alone, because the film is lousy with worthy components. Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, for example, playing a memorable duo of  (apparently/initially) hardened gunmen, and boasting one of the more entertaining introduction sequences in the Western canon. (It’s a real blast.  Heh.) Or the great Eli Wallach’s wonderfully-unhinged villain, Calvera. Or Charles Lang’s stunning wide-screen use of a host of a host of fantastic locations from south of the border. Or Charles Bronson’s Bernardo O’Reilly, the Irish-American mercenary whose bond with the town’s children provides the film with some of its finest moments. (Or my personal favorite of the Seven, James Coburn’s knife-throwing Britt  — perhaps the definitive Tall-Silent-Type.)

So many things to highlight here, and I haven’t even gotten to Renato Casaro yet. Or the man from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Or the fact that Steve McQueen desperately wanted to work on this project, but it conflicted with his TV schedule. So, being McQueen, he got himself into a car crash and shot the film while “out sick.”

Identifying a favorite’s practically impossible. Luckily, there’s no need to pick just one.

If you’ve got a bit of spare time, trying pairing this with its inspiration, Akira Kurosawa’s even-more-legendary Seven Samurai, from HULU PLUS. The similarities are fascinating; the differences, even more so. (And for those of you desperate for an animation version, try the insane anime Samurai 7, free-with-commercials from HULU, either DUBBED or SUBTITLED. Since A Bug’s Life is not available streaming.)

Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That’s why I never even started anything like that… that’s why I never will.

MSevenAttribution(s): All posters, publicity images, and movie stills are the property of United Artists/MGM and other respective production studios and distributors, and are intended for editorial use only.

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