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The Magnificent Seven (1960)

by on 2013/06/24

magnificent_seven“If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

* * * *

Ego is a funny thing.

Hacker Renders once told me that the legendary Steve McQueen (The Great Escape) did things in his scenes in this movie to deliberately distract from the other actors’ performances – specifically those of the legendary Yul Brynner. Every time Mr. McQueen was on screen, I couldn’t help but notice these little and not-so-little gestures – and I guess that was the point.

McQueen would flip a shiny coin between his fingers, take his hat off, look intensely at it, then don it again, and check his gun. It was all quite successfully distracting. Mission accomplished.

I also read that Yul Brynner, for his part, was particular about appearing taller than McQueen in shots. He’d build up a little mound of dirt on his mark before each scene. McQueen would reportedly kick it down every chance he got.

Ego in spades. Ego games.

Okay, this was a tangent. But I do love tangents so. This movie has already been reviewed on this site by a man who understands this film and its origins better than I.

No, ego games for me. Well, at least not on this blog. Er, right  now.

Jealousy is a funny thing. There’s some of it in this story. There’s the jealousy between the farmers and the gunmen they hire to defend their village. The farmers’ envy the gunmen’s freedom and courage. The gunmen, made up of Charles Bronson (Death Wish), James Coburn (The Great Escape), Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Werner Buchholz envy the farmers’ homes and hearths.

There’s the kid, the loner, the guy who is good with a knife, the panicky guy with night terrors, the slick conman, the likeable hero and the flinty leader. They have their jealousies too.

Then there are the bad guys. They are fond of a regular meal but they don’t want to go so far as to earn it. They are jealous of the folks that can support themselves. Some people are like that.

There’s a nice emotional underpinning and honesty in this film, ebbing and flowing under a nicely constructed plot.

I do love it when a plan comes together. And this plan does, after a fashion. I also love a good villain and Eli Wallach (Godfather III), is at the top of his evil game here.

Westerns are best when they teach us a little bit about human nature. This one does in a distractingly entertaining way, fuelled by turbo-powered egos.

* * * *

Rated PG

128 minutes

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