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Customer Review

on April 28, 2000
In my opinion, The Magnificent Seven is among the best movies of all time. It is made in the classic Western style, but perhaps due to the adaptation from the Seven Samaurai, it has a lot of the elements of modern movie characters: morally ambiguous anti-heroes who face a personal crossroads but ultimately choose the right path.
This movie adds new angles to the conventional Western plot. A group of 40 bandits led by a robust but ruthless leader named Calvera (Eli Wallach)continously raids a poor farming village for food and other provisions. A group of villagers go north of the border to enlist hired guns to protect them. Eventually, a cool gunslinger by the name of Chris (Yul Brynner) organizes a team of seven able mercenaries to defend the village for a meager fee. The group works well together and inspires the villagers to join the fight to drive Calvera out. After some success, the group suffers some adversity against considerable odds. In the end, both the visitors and the villagers learn about the price -- and payoff -- of resisting injustice.
This movie is truly driven by its great characters. Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, who plays Brynner's de facto lieutenant Vin, could have likely done this movie by themselves. Their chemistry reminds me of Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but with a drier humor. I would have loved to have seen them in more movies together.
I liked all of the Seven, but two others really stood out. Charles Bronson was impressive as the hard-edged O'Reilly, and played the role with a sense of humor and warmth without losing his stoic demeanor. Horst Buchholz was extremely impressive as the young gun ("Chico") who goes through an identity crisis as he is torn between the romanticism of being a gunslinger and the contrasting ethics of his heritage. Why wasn't he in more movies? Eli Wallach is superb as the boisterous, scenery-chewing Calvera, and Wallach brings gives a sense of humor and empathy to the role which distinguishes it from most movie villains I've seen. The village leaders were also very good.
The style and tone of this movie reminds me of the anti-hero type movies made in the late 60's and early 70's and the buddy/action-type movies of the current era. It also has two of the best cinematic gunfights I have ever seen. You owe it to yourself to at least see this one. I plan on adding The Magnificent Seven to my library and hopefully showing it to my kids someday.
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