'The Magnificent Seven' [Blu-ray]
(Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1960) 2011 / MGM)
Overview: Spectacular gun battles, epic-sized heroes and an all-star cast that includes Academy Award winners Yul Brynner and James Coburn, together with Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach and Charles Bronson, make 'The Magnificent Seven' a legend among westerns. Spawning three sequels and a successful television series, and featuring Elmer Bernstein's Oscar-nominated score, this stunning remake of 'The Seven Samurai' is a hard-pounding adventure and an enduringly popular cinematic classic.
Blu ray Verdict: If you have never known the plot of the 'Magnificent Seven,' a gang of Mexican bandits, about 30 of them, invade a village and demand their tribute. When met with resistance, a bullet in the belly is the villager's reward. What to do? They're just farmers, not hired guns. The elder of the village says go and buy guns!
Two men (played by Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen) overhear a funeral director lament that he cannot bury an Indian body in the cemetery because he'll get shot at. Apparently the town is so racist that to bury an Indian body into a white cemetery is stating you're an "Indian lover" and could get you shot!
After safely getting the funeral wagon to the plot (after much shooting, joking around and a little whiskey to keep ya warm), Brynner (Chris) is confronted by the villagers as to where to get guns, etc. They convey that they're being taken advantage of and want to get rid of this bandito.
Throughout the film the question is asked why Chris does this. Is it an honor thing? Certainly not money (20 dollars, even by 1895 standards is cheap). And could be he just likes the thrill of being a hired gun. It's a matter of honor and integrity that the audience is left to ponder.
What makes the film great are several themes: The camaraderie of seven men, who separate are pretty good but as a solid team are a force to be reckoned with. This theme has been repeated time and time again, but 'The Magnificent Seven' was the first film to do this successfully. It's been copied since.
Another theme is the music! Bernstein's theme is one of the most recognized and even earned an Oscar for that year. Also, each character gets his scene time. Each has his own problems and these are confronted. And not all the Seven make it out alive. But they all contributed, to a greater or lesser degree, to the successful liberation of the village.
And what of the villagers? Some resented being helped. Some resented having their lives complicated. What was the harm in letting this bandito come down and have some food? What a price to pay, freedom?
The scene of betrayal was especially poignant with me, really struck a chord. The realistic scenery, the horse and cowboy battles, the realism of the people and their plight, make it clear why this film has been copied, a TV series and several sequels have been made! And the new faces of actors who some would go on to bigger and better things - McQueen and Robert Vaughan as a few. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.