Yul Brynner / Chris
Yul Brynner as Chris
“I’ve been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.”
It’s said that the idea of (“An Americanization of the film, Seven Samurai (1954)”) to The Magnificent Seven, was Yul Brynner’s idea.
In any case, it’s no secret who the Star of this film was: Yul himself. And a magnificent Star he was – surely one of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood history.
The whole success of the film and it’s cast – one the the major Western Classics even carries to this day – where constant rumours or a remake swirl. A remake, which would possibly be an impossible task in it’s challenge to find Stars of the stature or a Yul Brynner – and the rest of the cast. A very daunting task.
Brynner cemented his image as Western Film Star and went on to appear in several spin-offs – none of which were as imposing as Magnificent Seven – yet still worthy of a look due to Brynner’s Star power.
Alas dying far too early at the age of 65 from lung cancer.
Yul Brynner Western Filmography
The Magnificent Seven / 1960
Invitation to a Gunfighter / 1964
Return of the Seven / 1966
Villa Rides / 1968
Adios, Sabata / 1970
Catlow / 1971
Westworld / 1973
Steve McQueen / Vin
“We deal in lead, friend.”
Billed 3rd behind Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach, McQueen’s shameless antics to steal scenes is the stuff of movie legends – as McQueen evidently feared Brynner’s notable charisma would overshadow him – and eventually started a one-upmanship duel between Brynner and McQueen throughout the filming. Steve, of course, eventually went on to become a big Star and success in his own right – and I wonder if they both didn’t share a chuckle about all this later on.
In the long run, it’s interesting that both of these great Stars seemed to pass before their time: McQueen of cancer at age 50 and Brynner of cancer at age 65 – both from smoking.
Tragic, as both would have undoubtedly continued to make good work.
Steve McQueen Western Filmography:
Tales of the Wells Fargo / TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance
Trackdown / TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance (2)
Wanted: Dead or Alive / TV Western / 1958 Series Star / 1958 – 1961
The Magnificent Seven / Co-Star / 1960
Nevada Smith / Star / 1966
Junior Bonner / Star (Directed by Sam Pekinpah) / 1972
Tom Horn / Star / 1980
James Coburn / Britt
“Nobody throws me my own guns and tells me to ride on. Nobody.”
James Coburn Western Filmography
1959 Ride Lonesome
1959 Face of a Fugitive
1960 The Magnificent Seven
1963 The Man from Galveston
1964 Major Dundee
1967 Waterhole No. 3
1971 Duck, You Sucker! / Renamed A Fistful of Dynamite for U.S. release
1972 A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die / Renamed Massacre At Fort Holman for U.S. release
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Sam Peckinpah
1975 Bite the Bullet
1990 Young Guns II
1996 Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right
2000 Texas Rangers
Charles Bronson / Bernardo
Bronson seemed (to me) to be a man that had paid his dues (he had) and this seemed to shine through his on-screen persona.
But he had that soft side too – as we see with the kids in The Magnificent Seven. Maybe that comes from his upbringing in a real life family of 14 brothers and sisters.
When we are introduced to Bronson in The Magnificent Seven we encounter him chopping wood. You better believe that no acting was necessary. And he could just as easily have been swinging a pick.
It’s a smart casting trick: choosing people who don’t need to act.
Bronson’s unique looks, however, allowed him to play roles of different cultures and races. Mexicans, Indians … his name in The Magnificent Seven is Bernardo O’Rielly … Italian Irish ?
CHARLES BRONSON /
Charles Dennis Buchinsky
WIKIPEDIA: Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. During the McCarthy hearings, he changed his last name to Bronson, fearing that Buchinsky sounded “too Russian”; the name was taken from Bronson Avenue in Hollywood, where the famous gated entrance to Paramount Pictures is located.
He was one of fifteen children born to a Lithuanian (Lipka Tatar) immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Bunchinski, who later adjusted his surname to Buchinsky to sound more “American”, hailed from the town of Druskininkai. Bronson’s mother, Mary (née Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He learned to speak English when he was a teen, before that he spoke Russian and Lithuanian.
Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. As a young child, Bronson did not initially know how to speak English and only learned the language while in his teens. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died. Young Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine itself. He earned $1 for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that, at one time, he reportedly had to wear his sister’s dress to school because of his lack of clothing.
In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.”
“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
~ Charles Bronson / The Magnificent Seven.
Robert Vaughn / Lee
“Till you lose your nerve. You can feel it. Then you wait … for the bullet in the gun that is faster than you are …”
Lee is probably the most complicated Character of the Seven.
Vaughn’s and (Director) John Stuges’ portrayal of Lee is be-gloved, dapper, dudish, white shirted, articulate gentleman gunsfighter – with a string tie,
who had lost his nerve and his touch.
A washed up gunslinger.
A bit of a tragic figure to be sure … only redeemed moments before his death – a death we sense is somewhat of a relief for him from the torture of the failure that he feels himself to be.
It’s pretty well telegraphed to us from the beginning that Lee will not be one of the Seven who rides off into the sunset.
Robert Vaughn Western Filmography
Good Day for a Hanging (1958)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Gunsmoke (1956) Guest
Frontier (1956) Guest
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) Guest
The Rifleman (1958) Guest
Law of the Plainsman (1959) Guest
Wichita Town (1959) Guest
Laramie (1960) Guest
The Man from Blackhawk (1960) Guest
Bonanza (1961) Guest
The Blue and the Gray (1982 mini-series)
Horst Buchholz / Chico
I wonder if people really appreciate the acting of Horst Buchholz in The Magnificent Seven? I doubt it.
Here’s a young German actor who comes over here … and does a Mexican Hat Dance, a mock bullfight, handles the romance, the action, some comic relief, and is also brilliant in the several dramatic scenes including the famous ‘audition scene’ with Yul Brynner. Displaying a breadth and depth of emotion throughout the movie.
Pretty heady stuff.
Brynner and Buchholz …. renegotiating
el toro !
Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros
Brad Dexter / Harry Luck
Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
The Magnificent Seven
Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn
Let’s call it Luck … bad luck, because sadly, strangely, unfairly, movies often all boil down to that intangible element called Charisma.
You either got it … or you don’t.
The Magnificent Seven
The proof is in the most famous trivia question of Western Film:
“Who was that Seventh guy anyway?”
Even when people are shown his picture …
most people STILL don’t know his name.
Playing Harry Luck.
Against the other members of the Seven … Brad simply fell into shadow.
Oh, Brad Dexter was cast correctly for his part alight – as the cynical member of the Seven who was ‘just in it for the money’.
But most everyone else in the cast was already an established Star (Brynner, McQueen, Wallach) – or moving swiftly up the ladder toward bright daylight (Bronson, Coburn, Bucholz and Vaughn).
Brad simply fell back – and never quite made it.
Brad Dexter / Veljko Soso
April 9, 1917 – December 11, 2002
Yet Dexter still had a successful film career that spanned some 50 years and included at least 40 movies.
Luck had nothing to do with it.
Eli Wallach / Calvera
“My first Western was called The Magnificent Seven.”
~ Eli Wallach
Eli Herschel Wallach (born December 7, 1915)
Eli Wallach is 97 years old.
In his acting career Wallach appeared in approximately 90 films and 85 Television shows.
“I never dreamed I would do Westerns.”
~ Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach Westerns
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
How the West Was Won (1962)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Mackenna’s Gold (1969)
Long Live Your Death (1971)
Shoot First… Ask Questions Later (1975)
Wallach says he once received a letter from the Pope who told him that his favorite Wallach Movie was The Magnificent Seven.
“As an actor I’ve played more bandits, thieves, killers, warlords, molesters, and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at.”
~ Eli Wallach
Below is my favorite Wallach scene from the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I heard Wallach say that Director Sergio Leone basically gave him free reign to improvise that scene any way he wanted.
Amazingly, by today’s standards for Western Badguys, Wallach was a pretty nice chap. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly he may be Ugly and ornery, but he’s basically comic relief, while Eastwood and Van Cleef handle the drama.
Likewise, in The Magnificent Seven, after Wallach and his gang get the drop the Seven, he merely scolds them … and then lets them go! THEN, he gives them back their guns !!! Nice guy. The Seven promptly ride back and kill all the bandits – including Wallach.
He’s also pretty clean … nice red shirt and vest … no tortilla stains, no spitting, cussing, abusing, raping … a little bit of pillaging … but that’s it.
And those peons … in immaculate white togs.
Fact is, the Mexican government was furious at the way Mexicans were depicted in a previous Western, Vera Cruz (starring Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper) and therefore placed people on the set whose job it was to censor any negative depictions of Mexico or Mexicans.
Funny, but nobody seems to notice this … unless someone points it out.
“I always end up being the evil one, and I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
~ Eli Wallach
Let’s ride !