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The Magnificent Seven (1960)  

Review: written June 2007

Classic Ensemble Western

Simply put, The Magnificent Seven is a classic - a movie inspired by a greater classic, `Seven Samurai'. It has a truly elegiac and iconic quality that few other Westerns ever reached. The score, the acting, the actors who all (well, almost all) went on to become big stars, and a message of hope for the average man and redemption for men who are willing to stand up for them. Crucially there is a baddie who is fully fleshed out, in a wonderfully nuanced performance by Eli Wallach - a part which is often overlooked in the success of the movie. And of course that instantly unforgettable Elmer Bernstein score. The significantly lesser sequels fail massively in two respects - firstly, none of them have a baddie as fully fleshed and worthy of the fight as Wallach. Instead, the `good guys' become the focus, with the baddie filling a mere two dimensional part of the story. Secondly, John Sturges who directed the original excelled as an ensemble director - every character in the original is memorable and given their moment to shine. Sure, looking back some of those gun fights might seem less thrilling to a modern viewer and it’s definitely a long film – but compared to other films from the same era, it has aged remarkably well.

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