"A pallid, pretentious and over-long reflection of the Japanese original.' New York Times
Given it's iconic status in the western moviescape, it may come as a surprise to hear that John Sturges' 1960 movie, The Magnificent Seven was largely a box office disappointment - during the year of its original release it placed well behind movies such as the Elvis Presley vehicle, G I Blues. But when the film was released in Europe it became a smash hit, being particularly popular in the UK and Germany.
The film doesn't really put a foot wrong in the way it is structured - the first part of the film deals with the seven coming together. Next they arrive at the Mexican village and there are some great character moments here, but ironically it is Hortz Buckholz (the actor most forgotten by participants in pub quizzes when asked to name the seven actors) who shines the brightest. He has some great moments, not less his discovery of the women the villagers have hidden from the American gunmen. Steve McQueen also stands out as does James Coburn - between them these two give us the two coolest most laid back characters in the entire movie. The middle section of the film sees the seven training up the villagers and they initially drive off Calvera (Wallach) and his men but the film builds up the tension for the return of Calvera and the final climatic shoot-out.
The real star of the movie though is the lean script - the dialogue is particularly good with few words wasted and virtually every line carries the story forward in some way. Though of course the action scenes, particularly the gunfights are excellently blocked and acted out.
'The old man was right, only the farmers won. We lost.' Chris' (Brynner) final line as he and McQueen
ride off into the sunset.
A western then that truly is magnificent.