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The Magnificent Seven Reviews

Very nearly a classic, this Americanization of Akira Kurosawa's THE SEVEN SAMURAI does a good job of mirroring the major themes and attitudes of the original while re-creating that monumental film in an occidental setting. However, Sturges's film fails to present its heroes with the style, grace, and dignity that Kurosawa accords his samurai warriors. Nevertheless THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is an excellent film and deserves the accolades it has received through the years. A small Mexican village is pillaged regularly by Wallach and his cutthroats. The quaking townsfolk don't have the courage to take on Wallach and his desperadoes so they decide to hire seven of the toughest hombres on that side of the Rio Grande: Brynner, McQueen, Bronson, Vaughn, Dexter, Coburn, and Buchholz. The Seven train the fearful townspeople to fight alongside them and set a trap for the wily Wallach and his group. There's not a weak performance in the film but that's to be expected with this cast, although Brynner, who had already won an Oscar for THE KING AND I, was the only "name" at the time the film was made. Although Coburn has little dialogue, his presence is strongly felt. It wouldn't be long before screenwriters were giving him plenty to say. In fact, the only member of the Seven who didn't rise in the acting ranks after this film was Dexter, who made a few more movies, then retired from the biz. Sturges's direction is the key to the film's quality. Just as he did in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK and THE GREAT ESCAPE, Sturges assembled a superb cast and skillfully put them through their paces. Bernstein's score also plays a major role in the film's success, and his main theme became an even more familiar part of American popular culture as the signature music for Marlboro cigarettes. The film spawned a number of sequels: RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE. Perhaps the ultimate testimony to the excellence of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is the sword that Kurosawa presented to Sturges after seeing the film.