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The Magnificent Seven (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 19, 2011 by  



An exciting Western that is well-directed and features an all-star cast, fans of “The Magnificent Seven” will no doubt enjoy this 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the film!

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Images courtesy of © 1960 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Magnificent Seven

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1960

DURATION: 128 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Mono, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011

Directed by John Sturges

Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni

English Screenplay Adaptation by William Roberts

Produced by John Sturges

Executive Produced by Walter Mirisch

Associate Producer: Lou Morheim

Music by Elmer Bernstein

Cinematography by Charles Lang

Edited by Ferris Webster

Art Direction by Edward Fitzgerald

Set Decoration by Rafael Suarez

Starring:

Yul Brynner as Chris Larabee Adams

Eli Wallach as Calvera

Steve McQueen as Vin Tanner

Charles Bronson as Bernardo O’Reilly

Robert Vaughn as Lee

Brad Dexter as Harry Luck

James Coburn as Britt

Horst Buchholz as Chico

Jorge Martinez de Hoyos as Hilario

Rosenda Monteros as Petra

Robert J. Wilke as Wallace

Val Avery as Henry

Whit Bissell as Chamlee

Academy Award Winner Yul Brynner stars in the landmark Western that launched the film careers of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn.  Tired of being ravaged by an army of marauding bandits, the residents of a small Mexican village seek help from seven American gunfighters.  The only problem?  It’s seven against 50!  Also featuring Eli Wallach and Robert Vaughn and set against Elmer Bernstein’s Oscar Nominated score.  Director John Sturges thrilling adventure belongs in any Blu-ray collection!

In 1954, filmmaker Akira Kurosawa released the film “Seven Samurai” which took the world by storm.

Several years later, a loose US adaptation of the film was written by William Roberts (“Red Sun”, “The Donna Reed Show”) and given a western setting.

And directing the film would be John Sturges (“The Great Escape”, “Bad Day at Black Rock”, “The Eagle has Landed”) and would feature an all-star cast which included Yul Brynner (“The Ten Commandments”, “The King and I”, “Westworld”), Steve McQueen (“The Great Escape”, “Papilon”, “Bullit”), Charles Bronson (“Once Upon a Time in the West”, “The Dirty Dozen”, “The Great Escape”), James Coburn (“The Great Escape”, “Charade”), Robert Vaughn (“Bullitt”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”), Brad Dexter (“The Asphalt Jungle”, “Von Ryan’s Express”) and Horst Buchholz (“Life is Beatiful”, “Tiger Bay”).

The film would be considered one of the top American films of all time (#79 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Thrills”) and was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” and was voted #8 on AFI’s “100 Years of Film Scores”.

The film would lead to three sequels: “Return of the Seven” (1966), “Guns of the Magnificent Seven” (1969) and “The Magnificent Seven Ride” (1972).

“The Magnificent Seven” is about a Mexican village which is raided by bandits led by Calvera (played by Eli Wallach) and they often terrorize the village by doing what they want with the women, taking their money and crops of the poor farmers.

In desperation and knowing the men can’t fight the bandits, the leaders of the village travel to the American border to buy weapons in hopes they can defend themselves and this is where they meet a man named Chris (played by Yul Brynner).  Chris tells them that if they want to survive, they will need to hire experienced gunfighters for their defense which is much more cheaper than buying weapons and ammunition for the entire village.  The villagers plead for Christ to lead them but he tells them that one man will not protect them from bandits, but he will do it if they have more men.

And sure enough, Chris begins to recruit seven men who would join him in order to protect the village.  From his friend Harry Luck (played by Brad Dexter) who thinks that Chris is looking for treasure; Vin (played by Steve McQueen) who needs money because he spent it all on gambling; Bernardo O’Reilly (played by Charles Bronson), a half Irish-Mexican gunfighter; the knife wielding Britt (played by James Coburn); Lee (played by Robert Vaughn), the man on the run and the inexperienced hothead Chico (played by Horst Buchholz).

Despite that Chava and his bandits have an edge by the number of bandits he has, Chris and friends help the villagers protect themselves by teaching them how to shoot and fight.

When Calvera comes with his bandits, Calvera realizes that the villagers have hired armed men and after a brief fight, the seven manage to take on Calvera and his men with ease.    While the villagers are happy to see the seven take on Calvera and his bandits with ease, some of the villagers fear that maybe for the sake of their family, hiring gunmen may hurt them more than hiring them to fight for them and thus fear and dissension hits the villagers who are confused whether or not to support the people they hired.

What will happen when Calvera returns to the village with more men?

VIDEO:

“The Magnificent Seven” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1).  For a film shot back in 1960, it was great to watch this film and see a good amount of detail!  From the grime and sweat on the faces of the characters, the detail on the bricks and windows.  Colors are very good, back levels are nice and deep and while I did notice some color fluctuations and a few white specks, I didn’t notice any compression artifacts or any major problems.

If anything, fans of the film should be happy with the overall picture quality!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Magnificent Seven” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Mono, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  While the film is primarily dialogue driven, I did notice the horse hooves playing through the surround channels, as with the Elmer Bernstein’s musical score.  The bullets and explosions also sound good via lossless and for the most part, for 1960 film, I did like the fact that a 5.1 DTS-HD lossless track was added along with the original monaural soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Magnificent Seven” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary by Producer Walter Mirisch, Assistant Director Robert Relyea, and Actors James Coburn and Eli Wallach– A wonderful commentary featuring in-depth information about the film. 
  • Guns for Hire: The Making of The Magnificent Seven – (46:54) A wonderful featurette about how “The Magnificent Seven” was adapted from Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” and the competitive nature of the talent in the film.  Also interviews with talent and producers.
  • The Linen Book: Lost Images from The Magnificent Seven – (14:48) Maggie Adams, head of MGM’s photo archive talks about the discovery of “The Magnificent Seven” linen book and also a few of the stars talking about the photography in the book.
  • Original Theatrical Trailers – Featuring two trailers.
  • Still Gallery – (4:05)

“The Magnificent Seven” was the first of several Westerns to be based on Akira Kurosawa’s popular film.

While the film adaptation of “The Magnificent Seven” is much different than the “Seven Samurai”, the timing of the film was perfect as Westerns were still popular in America and it was one of the few films to see an all-star cast (albeit when many of them were younger) and for the most part, a wonderfully directed film by John Sturges.

While today, the subject of guns for hire, protecting the unfortunate is part of the banality of modern Westerns, part of the the uniqueness of “The Magnificent Seven” was that it was based on an impressive film but this time carried out into a Western atmosphere.  Acting by all men were well-done and with the all-star cast, it is no surprise that there were ego’s involved in the film and you can see Steve McQueen really trying to do his best to upstage Yul Brynner in the film.

In fact, one of the greatest inclusion for this anniversary Blu-ray release is the fact that we get to learn what took place behind-the-scenes of the making of the film.

It’s important to note that there is no difference with this 2011 Blu-ray release compared to what is inside “The Magnificent Seven” Collection.  The main thing is these films are now being released individually and if you own the set, no need to buy this Blu-ray release.  With that being said, if you own the 2006 Collector’s Edition on DVD, you may want to hang on to that release as it does have the Sir Christopher Frayling audio commentary track not included on this Blu-ray release.

“The Magnificent Seven” is a satisfying Western with one heck of a memorable score but while I felt the “Seven Samurai” was a much better film in terms of character development and pacing, “The Magnificent Seven” was still very entertaining and great to see how the adaptation would be carried out as a Western.

I just remember when I first watched the film and seeing how different the film was compared to the original Kurosawa film for the last half hour, I did enjoy the action sequences and for the most part, the personality differences amongst each of the hired guns.

I felt at the time that “The Magnificent Seven” was an exciting film and for the Blu-ray release, I’m quite confident that fans of the film or for those looking for Westerns on Blu-ray should definitely check this movie out.  While, I wouldn’t call it one of the great Westerns ever made, it’s still an entertaining film.

While the sequels did not do any justice for this film (the quality of the films literally slowly go downhill from the second sequel to the next), if you are a Western fan, “The Magnificent Seven” is definitely recommended!

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