Massive UPDATE: The Magnificent Seven Page …

16 Feb

The Magnificent Seven Official Soundtrack theme … Elmer Bernstein

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YUL BRUNNER 2

Yul Brynner / Chris

Yul Brynner official pic magnificent seven

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
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Steve McQueen / Vin

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“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
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James Coburn / Britt

james coburn

“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
1984 Draw!
1990 Young Guns II
1994 Maverick
1996 Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right
2000 Texas Rangers

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Charles Bronson / Bernardo

CASTING charles bronson

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 ?

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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.”

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“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
~ Charles Bronson / The Magnificent Seven.

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Robert Vaughn / Lee

Yaughn as Lee

ROBERT VAUGHN 2

“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.

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Robert Vaughn Western Filmography
Good Day for a Hanging
 (1958)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
TV Work:
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)
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Horst Buchholz / Chico 

Horst Buchholz

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

Brynner and Buchholz …. renegotiating

Horst Bucholz bullfighter

el toro !

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

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Brad Dexter / Harry Luck

Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
The Magnificent Seven

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The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven - Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn

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.

Brad Dexter

Playing Harry Luck.

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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.

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Brad Dexter / Veljko Soso
April 9, 1917 – December 11, 2002

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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.
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Eli Wallach / Calvera

“My first Western was called The Magnificent Seven.”
~ Eli Wallach

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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.

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“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.
Nicely done.

Bandito ?

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.
Sorry.
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“I always end up being the evil one, and I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
~ Eli Wallach

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Let’s ride !

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17 Responses to “Massive UPDATE: The Magnificent Seven Page …”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong February 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    This is the movies Garry watches the most often, with which he can recite every single line, knows the back story of each character and actor. With the consequence that I know them too. LOTS of neat back stories for the stars of this movie. The Seven Samurai in Japanese was literally “The Magnificent Seven.” FYI.

    • jcalberta February 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      I’ve still got a lot of editing to do and things to add. But I don’t really want to make it into a book – that’s likely already been done anyway. I am aware of where the story comes from. It was a sweet idea to adapt it to a Western setting.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

        Some of the stuff that happened on the set … McQueen stealing the scenes with Brynner furious, but nothing he could do about it. Everybody thought Bronson was weird … he apparently was a rather odd bird. Garry quotes lines from this movie ALL the time.

  2. Rick February 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    I liked the entire cast except for Robert Vaughn. For some reason, I don’t think he fits.

    • jcalberta February 16, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      In my suggestions for the cast of a M7 remake, apart from Brynner’s role, I found Vaughn’s to be hardest to recast.

  3. cindybruchman February 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    Such a great film! I heard Quentin Tarantino was going to do a remake but the project was shelved.

    • jcalberta February 17, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

      Not sure if he was going to do a ‘remake’ exactly? I’d be surprised. But somebody leaked the script which upset Tarantino immensely so he said the project was off. But I can’t see that would stop it. ??
      Personally, if there is going to be remake, I’d rather see somebody else do it anyway.

  4. Matt Recktenwald June 20, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Nobody writes about & mebbe I’am the only one who likes it – the television series “The Magnificent Seven” from 1998-2000. Michael Biehn (from “Tombstone”, he was Johnny Ringo, spitting Latin proverbs) played Chris with the name-addendum of Larrabee. Besides Biehn in the role of a stiff & cagy loner there was a bunch of good & enthusiastic actors like Eric Close, Dale Midkiff, Andrew Kavovit, Rick Worthy, Andrew Starke, Ron Perlman (okay, not the best rider under the stars – but he played with so much verve). Female lead was the incredible beautiful Laurie Holden. And in a cameo was thas last survivor of the original 7 – Robert Vaughn.

    I like the feel of that series: It has a good solid cast, it has a good solid cast of heavies (p.e. Barry Corbin, Tyne Daly). It is in respect of the authenticity of clothing, weaponry & the whole setting MUCH better than the original (here the costumes looked as just taken from a TV Show, especially the around the early 196ies very popuar fast draw gun rigs). This series deals with the stories of former slaves as well as with the story of the Muscogee-Seminoles. For me – as a big fan of the Sturges-movie, especially because as a German – this series gave the whole thing a new twist.

    Maybe I am wrong – but I like it. Especially because the series showed (in the role of Buck Wilmington played by Dale Midkiff) cowboys doin’ in a town what the original cowboys did: havin’ a good time i.e.v. treeing the town, raising a little hell, drinking beer’n booze & chasing the women.

    Oh — one person should not be forgotten: Michelle Philips (yeah,from “The Mamas and the Papas”-fame and from “Dillinger” with the unforgotten Warren Oates). She played the mother from one of the “7” & she stole every scene she was in: it’s the sheerest pleasure!

    Now for someone completely different: Horst Buchholz (with two “h”, please). Buchholz was a REAL Berliner, his nickname was “Hotte” (it’s the corruption of his Christian name). Such a sad life. Could have been a BIG star all over the world. Born in 1933, he played since 1952 here in Germany everything, was the man for the roles of young rebels as in “Die Halbstarken” as well as for movies like “Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull” (after a book of one of our most famous novelists, Thomas Mann) & was in political comedies, like Wilders “One, Two Three” from 1961. He had so much acting stamina, so much energy – a little bit like James Dean, from which one of his first big roles was influenced. But he had a broader range. And he was handsome & charismatic. The story goes, that he was on the wishlist for playing Karl May’s incredible famous Mescalero-chief Winnetou (but this was the role what helped to make the French nobleman Pierre Brice one of Germany’s biggest stars of the 1960ies).

    Referring to his International success and stardom, I think “7” was the highwater mark for Buchholz. He was in Billy Wilders incredible funny, lighthearted & fast-pacing comedy “One, Two, Three”, but this movie dealed with a German-Russian-American plot in Berlin right at the beginning of the 1960ies. Therefore, it went out of the movie theaters, when that damned political gang in Eastern-Berlin started to build the Berlin-wall. To make a long story – “One, Two, Three” bombed (but was a success after his re-release in 1985 or so).

    A shame. Because for me as a German, that movie showed the world such wonderful FUNNY acting of good German-speaking actors (besides Buchholz people like Hanns Lothar, Lilo Pulver or Ralf Wolter). I think until Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” there was never an International movie with so many good German actors. And we have good ones, believe me! Not only Christoph Waltz (who is from German nationality, but describes himself as an Austrian, because of his birth & his upbringing there).

    The career of Horst Buchholz went down in the 1960ies & 1970ies. Because of “One, Two, Three”, Buchholz disdained the role of Sherif Ali in one of the most famous movies of all times – “Lawrence of Arabia”. So, this role went to Omar Sharif & the rest is history. Finally, Buchholz came back to Europe with his wife Myriam & his two kids, played theater & arthouse movies as well as some television stuff. In his later years he had to try even a hand as the host of an incredible lousy TV show. You know: He was old & needed the money – let’s forget it!

    One of his last International movies was in 1992 “Aces: Iron Eagle III”, an action flick with with an – as always – solid Lou Gossett jr. in the leading role & with beautiful bodybuilding queen Rachel McLish (who was perfect as an action lady, but not as an actress – but she was MUUUUUUCH better than Brigitte Nielsen in “Red Sonja”). Buchholz had a minor role in Wim Wenders’ famous movie “Faraway, So Close!” from 1993. And he was in Roberto Benigni’s just wonderful & heartwarming “La vita è bella” from 1997, and he played theater again. But in these days you could see in the face of Buchholz that he was not healthy any longer. He looked worn & too old for his age. As far as I know he had personal problems (his drinking, his bisexuality). He died in 2003 with 69 years – too early.

    IMHO: Immediately after “7” he lived in fear to get typecasted as Mexican in Westerns. BTW: Mario Adorf, another world-class German actor (with Italian roots, too), feared the same after his role of Sergeant Gomez in Peckinpah’s underrated milestone “Major Dundee” (Besides that: it’s so sad that Adorf missed the chance to play Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” – writing about movies is writing about missed chances…).

    Anyway. I want so say this: “Thank you so much!” Because you pointed to the real fine acting of Buchholz in “7”. He looked not strange on a horse, fitted in the Wildwest-scenery, was able to transport his enthusiasm to the audience. He and the exciting Rosenda Monteros – yeah, such a nice innocent couple, it was & is so heartwarming to look on. First love and such.

    Imagine: His first Western, within a cast of stalwarts like McQueen and Coburn, who were real Westerners, within a cast with a diva like the highly talented Brynner and within a cast with another diva – Bronson, who was with his complex personality one of the strangest movie actors ever & who was, is and will be one of my alltime favorites. Buchholz delivered his part with an incredible easiness. An easiness which is (as in the case of Dean Martin) always the product of real hard, dedicated work. I am not counting lines & words & acting time & such, but I think, it was Buchholz who had after Brynner and McQueen the biggest acting part – but, maybe, I am litte bit biased or prejudiced here.

    Oh yes – one thing: I would like to know what John Sturges thought of him.

    So, just what I have to say. And, please, ignore my poor grammar …

    Matt Recktenwald

    • Marilyn Armstrong June 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Horst wasn’t afraid of anything in Hollywood. He was homesick. He went back to Germany where he became the best known TV personality in his native country. He didn’t do much movie work, though he probably could have.

    • jcalberta June 21, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your letter. I know there are many Western Movies fans in Germany.

      No need to apologize for liking The Magnificent Seven TV show.
      You’re right – it had a good cast.

      – I first noticed Michael Biehn from the movie ‘Aliens 2’. He had a great role in that too.
      – Ron Perlman has had a very sucessful career. I first recall seeing him in the movie ‘Quest for Fire’ (1981) – a good movie too – some of which was filmed in the Alberta Badlands.
      – Michelle Philips has been good in everything she’s done. She has a strong scene presence.
      – The M7 episode with Robert Vaughn was a nice touch.

      Unfortunately, TV is all about and popularity and money = Ratings. Many excellent TV shows do not survive.

      Horst Buchholz was a talented actor. He could do anything: comedy, drama – able to portray a wide range of emotion and expression. I always thought he could have had a much bigger international career.
      I liked “One, Two Three” (1961) – a good movie – and with the great James Cagney too.

      You’re right: Peckinpah’s “Major Dundee” is an under-appreciated Western.

      “writing about movies is writing about missed chance” you said. Very true. Many actors have damaged their careers by refusing certain Roles – while others have risen to stardom in those parts.

      Buchholz was indeed very good in the Magnificent Seven. No question about that.

      Thank you for your comments.

  5. Matt Recktenwald June 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Shame on me:I forgot a few words:

    2nd paragraph: (…) It has a good solid cast of heroes, it has a good solid cast of heavies. (…)

    6th paragraph: (…) To make a long story short – “One, Two, Three” bombed (but was a success after his re-release in 1985 or so). (…)

    Jeeeezes, as they say…

  6. didier April 12, 2015 at 6:33 am #

    Hi JC !
    There’s now an exposition about Yul Brynner in Lausanne (Switzerland) and until next september. You can read:
    http://www.riowestern.com/yul-brynner-exposition-a-la-fondation-bolle-de-morges-suisse/
    They gave to me a big poster of Yul Brynner, and also a 2 cards. If you want one of these cards, I can send it to you, as a gift. Then give me your adress !

    • jcalberta April 27, 2015 at 11:45 am #

      Thank You Sir !!! Apology for not responding sooner – your posting got by me somehow.

      And WELCOME !!!

    • jcalberta April 27, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      Thank you so kindly. He was a powerful actor.

      Your Western Blog is magnifique !!!

  7. Dixie Burge October 12, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    Everyone seems to write only about the 7. Heck, the only reason I watch the movie is to see Eli Wallach as Calvera! When he isn’t on the screen, I simply mark time until he shows up again. Without the character of Calvera, there Is no conflict, no reason for the 7 gunmen to be hired or even to be there! From the first scene after the beginning credits, when Calvera and his bandits ride into the village and pillage it, the stage is set for the rest of what takes place in the movie. I don’t think I am amiss to say that he’s the reason for all the action and derring-do of the hired gunmen. But of course, most people seem to forget that in favor of the macho charms of good-looking Brynner, McQueen, Buchholz, etc…or they simply miss it altogether.

    • jcalberta October 12, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

      The Mag 7 (1960) in high on many Western fans Top Ten lists. It is generally regarded as one of the Greatest Westerns of all. Myself, I’ve watched it over and over. It has many great scenes and ensemble cast – including Wallach – that is almost unmatched in film. It’s an important Western. I wish Wallach had more free reign with his role, but Mexican officials interfered immensely with the production and wouldn’t permit any serious negative depictions of Mexicans. Thus Wallach’s Calvera is really a much milder bandito than could have been depicted. He was still very good though.

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