Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven
seen on TV @ TCM

There's a wonderful novel that came out a few years ago called Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. It's about a small Mexican town in which most of the menfolk have gone north to America to find work, because little can be found in town. There are these three teenage girls who come up with a plan to save the town - a plan inspired by The Magnificent Seven.

They, along with the rest of the town, see the movie one night as part of a Yul Brynner twin bill, and they decide to take a trip over the border themselves and find seven men they can bring back to settle into town and (eventually) help repopulate it. They've never even left their town before, but their quest gets everyone's blessing and they set off on an unusual, but important, adventure.

The book is warm-hearted and very funny, with a lively and unique cast of characters, and though M7 is only the springboard for the main plot, Urrea makes good use of it. For example, there's a small rivalry between fans of Brynner and fans of Steve McQueen which rears its head during the screening of M7. Also, there's a character who's under the mistaken impression that Brynner himself is Mexican (he was actually Russian). Little things like these that help flesh out the townspeople. It's a delightful book that's well worth seeking out.

I thought I had already seen M7, and maybe I had, but I don't remember. Nothing looked terribly familiar as I watched it, but at least that meant I could watch it fresh. I've seen Seven Samurai, of course, though that was awhile ago. (Interesting that the opening credits acknowledged that it was based on 7S - you hardly ever see that in Americanized remakes of foreign films these days.)

Mostly, I thought of my father as I watched it. He loved his Westerns, and I feel fairly confident in saying that M7 was his kind of Western. I never had as great an appreciation for them while he was around, and I certainly wouldn't have known who Brynner was, other than the Pharaoh from The Ten Commandments. I wish I could've watched this with him. I imagine it would've given us a lot to talk about in terms of movies.

Not a whole lot more I can say about M7 other than it's a fun movie. I would make more comparisons to 7S except it's been a long time since I've seen it and I don't remember the details, although I'm sure M7 follows it closely. Never saw the sequel, don't feel like I need to - or do I?


  1. No. You don't need to see the sequel.

    For years I was fairly ambivalent toward "The Magnificent Seven". Other than Bernstein's score, on which I think a large part of the movie's popularity rides, I could find nothing to really applaud. Then, after years of prodding by my Kurosawa crazy sister, I finally sat down and watched "Seven Samurai". I seem to remember someone kneeling in front of the television in admiration, but that hardly seems likely. At any rate, once I knew where "The Magnificent Seven" was coming from I started cutting that movie some slack and, wonder of wonders, I found an enjoyable flick to go with Bernstein's score. Love Coburn. And after the crying Japanese farmers, those whiny Mexicans seemed quite admirable. One of these days I may even turn around on "A Bug's Life".

  2. I totally forgot to mention Elmer Bernstein's awesome score. Thank you.


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