The Magnificent Seven (1960) Parent Review
Rumors abound around the off-screen feuding between Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen on the set of The Magnificent Seven. Still, whatever happened when the cameras were off doesn’t seem to have impacted the shelf life of this Wild West tale.
Based on Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese film Seven Samurai, the US version stars a huge list of actors—many of whom went on to become Hollywood mainstays in the following decades. While the movie originally failed to make an impact at the box office, it eventually achieved American Classic status thanks in part to the growing popularity of the cast and the production’s haunting musical score (which received an Oscar nomination).
In the story, a group of banditos led by a grimy revolutionist named Calvera (Eli Wallach) pillages a small Mexican village on a yearly basis, taking their food and whatever valuables they can find. Unable to defend themselves, the farmers put together the last of their money and send three men out to buy weapons. Instead, they come back with seven hired guns.
Although it is hard to image assassins with consciences, Chris Adams (Yul Brynner) and Vin Tanner (Steve McQueen) don’t like bullies. Rather they justify their career choice by ridding the world of undesirables. Also recruited are hard-drinking Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), citified Lee (Robert Vaughn), in-it-for-the-money Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), knife-throwing expert Britt (James Coburn) and wannabe tough-guy Hilario (Jorge Martinez de Hoyas). They make up a odd ensemble, with the last five having less honorable motivations, so it is little wonder that when the bullets begin to fly between the gunslingers and the bandits, some of the townsfolk fear they’ve made the wrong decision by employing these protectors.
Running for more than two hours the film moves at a slow trot compared to today’s action movies. The content is tamer as well. Showdowns that result in extensive gunfights and multiple deaths feature a minimal amount of blood and gore. Language concerns and sexual content are on the light side too.
Unlike many depictions of Wild West outlaws, this script explores the fears and misgivings some of the mercenaries face and even exposes their gentler side. That goes against many of the gunfighter stereotypies, yet manages to give these protagonists a sense of humanity. And perhaps that is why The Magnificent Seven has earned its spot on the list of legendary Westerns.Directed by John Sturges. Starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson. Running time: 128 minutes. Theatrical release October 23, 1960. Updated August 19, 2015
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Magnificent Seven (1960) here.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) Parents Guide
Why do Chris and Vin agree to help the Mexican villagers, even though there won’t be any remuneration for the job? How does the film define good guys, good bad guys and bad guys in this script? Why does the story choose to show a soft or vulnerable side to these gunslingers?
While the film was not a box office success in America, it was wildly popular when it released in Europe. How do films affect the way we see other cultures or countries?