Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Things to Know About "The Magnificent Seven"

1. The Magnificent Seven (1960) is a pretty faithful adapatation of Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai (1954)--except that the American Western is 79 minutes shorter! It does have a scene not in the original: the one where Chris (Yul Brynner) and Vin (Steve McQueen) drive the hearse to boot hill.

2. Yul Brynner was the only one of the original cast to appear in a sequel. He reprised the role of Chris for Return of the Seven (1966), which featured Robert Fuller (Laramie) as Vin. In subsequent movies, Chris was played by George Kennedy (Guns of the Magnificent Seven) and Lee Van Cleef (The Magnificent Seven Ride!).

3. Steve McQueen fidgets with his hat frequently during the film--allegedly in an attempt to draw attention to himself. He wasn't a star yet and, in fact, was still headlining the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive.

4. Brynner was already a star, of course, but four other Seven actors went on to achieve film or television fame: McQueen, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson. In fact, McQueen, Coburn, and Bronson reteamed for the 1963 classic The Great Escape. As for the rest of the Seven, Horst Buchholz was already considered a promising newcomer and subsequently appeared in Billy Wilder's One Two Three. That leaves Brad Dexter--who played Harry--as the odd man out. Dexter never came close to stardom, but had a long career as a supporting player; he appeared in several films with best pal Frank Sinatra.

5. In his autobiography, Eli Wallach wrote: “The one regret I had in making The Magnificent Seven was that I never heard Elmer Bernstein’s musical score while making the film. If I had heard that score, I think I would have ridden my horse differently.” Wallach originally wanted to play the Buchholz role--until he read the script and realized that the villainous Calvera was the juiciest part.

6. Elmer Bernstein's music score didn't gain fame until part of it was used in Marlboro cigarette commericials. The Philip Morris Tobacco Company licensed Bernstein's music in 1963 for a Western-themed ad campaign and the rest is history. In fact, it became widely known as the "Marlboro theme." A 1967 album was released called The Music from Marlboro Country, which included musical tracks from The Magnificent Seven and Return of the Seven.

7. Robert Vaughn appeared in two other versions of The Magnificent Seven. He played a mercenary in Battle Beyond the Stars (1977), a low-budget remake that transplanted the premise to an outer space colony harassed by John Saxon's villain. Vaughn's character was "adopted" by the colonists' children (as Bronson's character was by the peasant children in the original). Then, for the 1998-2000 CBS TV series The Magnificent Seven, Vaughn guest-starred as a judge on six episodes.

12 comments:

  1. One other thing Rick, the music was never issued as a soundtrack LP. It wasn't till the The return Of The Seven which used the same soundtrack. I have The UA Records Lp.

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    1. That's a real oddity for such a famous score. But really, the score wasn't that widely known until Marlboro made the theme popular.

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  2. One of my all time favorites, Rick. My brother and I have been known to watch it and mouth the dialogue. I mean, we ain't kidding. Ha. I played hooky from school so I could spend the day at the movies. Saw this three times!

    The music is superb. I'd always wondered why there was no soundtrack recording.

    Didn't Brad Dexter save Frank Sinatra from drowning in the ocean? That's why they became close friends. At least that's what I read a while ago.

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    1. Yes, during the shooting of None But the Brave i believe, but Brad kept reminding him of it and eventually fell by the wayside.

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  4. I loved these facts, Rick -- makes me want to watch the movie (which, if I'm not mistaken, I've actually never seen all the way through). What a cast, though! I really will have to check it out.

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  5. This is my absolute favorite western, Rick. Character-driven, but plenty of action, fantastic actors and the best music west of the Mississippi. I always thought it so interesting when I saw it that I recognized everybody except Brad Dexter! Oh, and my favorite personal anecdote is that I was thrilled to get to see The Seven Samurai on TV after I had seen Magnificent Seven. It was in Japanese of course, subtitled, and I had to leave the room to change the baby, so I asked my husband to turn the TV up so I could follow it. Of course that didn't do any good since they were speaking Japanese! LOL! Fun article, Rick!

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  6. I love Eli Wallach's quote about riding his horse differently had he heard the soundtrack. I've never seen this film in its entirety, but I completely understand what he's saying.

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  7. I really enjoyed this seven on "Seven" post!

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  8. Who built the hearse wagon? There were many beautiful coaches built in that time and this is one of them.

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  9. Another little-known fact: the film was originally to be called THE MAGNIFICENT EIGHT until jealous co-stars Brynner & McQueen demanded that all my scenes be cut out.

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  10. When Brynner caught McQueen doing the hat trick (leaning down off his horse to scoop up a hatful of stream water) he told him that if he kept on doing it, Brynner would just take his hat off, and McQueen would disappear. You'll note Brynner's hat stays on for almost the entire flick. The Marlboro Company's contract kept the ST for the movie from being released. The music only made it out for "Return of the 7."

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