Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1960 - THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is really the pretty good seven or maybe OK seven

Not much to add here, everyone knows that this is a remake of the Kurosawa film transported to Mexico as a western.  The director is John Sturges and while Sturges is a good director, he's no Kurosawa. 

At  over two hours watching the film was kind of a long slog.  Sturges strong points as a director was always in staging action and working with composition in wide screen.  Unfortunately Sturges probably should have put a little more time into the screenplay.  The film mostly takes the Seven Samurai plotline and condenses a  lot of that film's story structure which makes some of the film look a little choppy in places.  Towards the end the bandit leader traps the "Seven" and then lets them go with their guns.   The reasons the Mexican bandit leader gives for not killing the "Seven"  make absolutely no sense and the scene itself really has no reason to even be in the film.

The dialog also leaves a lot to be desired,  there are some pretty corny lines that come out of the mouths of these tough guys.  The gunfighters in this film are so nice they would fit right into a Mary Kate and Ashley Olson movie.  The Seven Samurai runs over three hours so it probably should be expected that The Magnificent Seven would lose a lot of the emotion and characterization that the Kurosawa film had. 

What the film does have going for it besides two excellent action scenes, is the super cool cast, almost iconic roles for every actor playing the "Seven."

The German actor Horst Buchholz plays a Mexican named Chico in a very silly piece of casting.  Buchohltz got stuck playing the inexperienced and reckless kid and he's OK although it's a pretty impossible part for any actor much less a German pretending to be a Mexican.

In the end the film is probably to mired in it's early 1960's conventionality to be the classic that a lot of people think it is.  Everything is spelled out and every plot point is very obvious throughout the film in that 1960's kind of way.

Sergio Leone must have watched this film a few times before he made the first of his spaghetti westerns.  The Mexican bandit leader played by Eli Wallach is clearly a warm up for Wallach's Mexican outlaw "Tuco" character in The Good The Bad and The Ugly.

128 minutes, either overlong or not long enough.

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