By KJ Hamilton
The Magnificent Seven – John Sturges – 1960
The first time I saw this film; I didn’t really pay attention to it. I was a kid, there was one TV in the house, and I wasn’t allowed to change the channel when the Westerns were on. I didn’t inherit my father’s love of classic, Hollywood Westerns, so I barely remembered the plot.
It’s a classic tale: a poor village in Mexico is terrorized by Calvera (Eli Wallach); who justifies his actions by explaining that he has to have a way to feed himself and his men. The villagers wish to reclaim their crops and their village, but the only thing they know how to do is farm land. So, they seek the advice of an elder, who sends them north to the United States to buy guns. Instead, the men decide to hire gunslingers to help them. Enter Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), a man who is not afraid to go against an entire town to bury a dead Native American who, even in death, was shunned. The villagers are fascinated with his confidence, and seek him out. They plead with Adams to help them win back their village. Adams accepts their offer and immediately hires more men to join him: Vin (Steve McQueen), Bernardo (Charles Bronson), Lee (Robert Vaughn), Harry (Brad Dexter) and Britt (James Coburn). Chico (Horst Buchholz) is a young wannabe gunslinger who rides along behind the group, and is eventually accepted. The Seven rides into town, but the villagers are so afraid of outsiders that they only come out to greet their heroes after provocation.