Saturday, October 11, 2014

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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 seriesWanted: Dead or Alive.

4. Brynner was already a star, of course, but four other Sevenactors 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 inBattle 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.

1 comment:

mybillcrider said...

I could spend way too much time there.