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The Magnificent Seven (McQueen Collection)
DVD disk
05.10.2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
The Magnificent Seven (McQueen Collection) order
Director:
John Sturges

Actors:
Yul Brynner - Eli Wallach
Steve McQueen - Charles Bronson
Robert Vaugh - James Coburn
Brad Dexter - Horst Buchholz

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In John Sturges' classic re-invention of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, a band of seven rogue gunmen lead by Chris Adams (Brynner) is hired out by Mexican peasants to rid their town of the dreaded Calvera (Wallach), a bandit who along with his crew, pillages the village and leaves it's inhabitants poor and starving.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

Once every few years, there comes along a film that has it all and even though in this age of half-assed sequels and cash-cow blockbusters the interval between these is getting longer and longer, at least we still have some old classics to remind us of some better days in Hollywood, when care went into moviemaking and stars were heroes rather than pretty-looking fodder for the supermarket tabloids. 1960 Gave us The Magnificent Seven, a brilliant remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai set in the old west and starring a handful of the biggest stars to come out of that era. It was also the film that thrust Steve McQueen at the forefront of American film as the King of Cool and with a cast that included Brynner, Bronson, Wallach and other huge stars of the time, it's a very beneficial trip down memory lane that's worth every minute once in a while. It also marks what can be termed the "middle ground" between the idyllic white hat western settings of films like High Noon and the ultra-grunge of Leone's spaghetti westerns.

A great deal of the appeal from this film is the vastly different background of each of the seven hired guns. Although each deals in death, they all had well-established reasons for ending up in the business and very different outlooks on it. The success was in establishing this without lingering on each character for long periods of time but rather by dealing out bits of information and by making their conduct consistent with their personalities. Every time I watch this film, I decide that one of them is my favourite of the bunch and strangely enough, it's always a different one (although I must admit the one who keeps coming back as favourite more often is Coburn's Britt. Cool as a cucumber, just like my love life!). Add to that Wallach's (yet again) awesome performance as Calvera and you've got enough talent on one screen to wipe out the entire casts of all of this year's Hollywood productions so far.

The Magnificent Seven also looks and sounds great. The classic score by Elmer Bernstein is fantastic. I remember watching this with my dad a few years back and him mentioning that ever since he'd seen this film in a small movie house of the old country in the sixties, he could still hum the score and as a matter of fact, a fistfight almost broke out between us when he decided to prove that by humming throughout the entire film. Family feuds aside though, it's a true pleasure to hear. There's also quite a bit of incredible action with stunts that would make Lee Majors green with envy and gunfight galore. It's not as brutally violent as Peckinpah's Wild Bunch but just as raw in it's depiction of the tremendous cost of, as McQueen says, "dealing in lead". If you've already seen this movie, no doubt it's inclusion in this Steve McQueen Collection will be added motivation to watch it again but if you're one of the poor wandering souls who has yet to check it out, then do yourself a favour and make sure you don't miss out on one of the best westerns in all filmdom.

THE EXTRAS

Full Length Audio Commentary with Stars James Coburn and Eli Wallach, Producer Walter Mirisch and Assistant Director Robert Relyea: Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch the date this was recorded on but what a pleasure to have such greats on tape discussing their work. Most of the talk focuses - and rightly so - on legendary director John Sturges but all men also share some great anecdotes about the film and their co-stars. A very valuable addition to this disc.

Guns For Hire: The Making of The Magnificent Seven (47 mins): Since it's an older film and I'm pretty sure there weren't people hovering around the set with handi-cams nor were Larry King and James Lipton there to proclaim every movie the "greatest ever" on every channel, I figured this would be a short re-hash of some old stories and tales. Instead, I was treated to a full and very informative documentary that gathered many insights and anecdotes from various stars and filmmakers such as James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Eli Wallach, Lawrence Kasdan and even (and I'm not kidding here...) Hollywood super-has-been Chazz Palminteri!! There's even some older footage of Yul Brynner dishing out about the film wish was really cool. This is a great documentary.

You'll also be able to catch two Theatrical Trailers and a Stills Gallery.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS

This is a classic so you hardly need my big ass to tell you what to do with it but the only disappointment with the disc as part of The Steve McQueen Collection is that it's the exact same disc that you can find on regular shelves and there's no added focus on McQueen or anything. As a matter of fact, all of the three other films in the collection (The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair and Junior Bonner) come in their regular edition and the only extra you're afforded with the McQueen set is the cardboard sleeve which means if you own any of these already, the set is immediately devalued by 25%. Up to you to make the call.

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