The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven Official Soundtrack theme … Elmer Bernstein

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Yul Brynner official pic magnificent seven

Yul Brynner

“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 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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McQueen as 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

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“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

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“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”

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 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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Robert Vaughn / Lee

Yaughn as 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
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)

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.

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Brynner and Buchholz …. renegotiating

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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
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The Magnificent Seven

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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.

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.

“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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All images are exactly as found. 

22 thoughts on “The Magnificent Seven (1960)”

  1. Now that the remake has actually happened, I’m not ashamed to say I haven’t watched it, and have no plans to watch it in the future, except unintentionally. I’m too attached to the original, and Eli Wallach as Calvera in particular. It would be too depressing to see others in the place of those stars, and in Wallach’s place especially! 😕

    1. It won’t hurt you to see it. You probably have some idea what to expect. It’s slick modern movie making. It’s pretty well formula stuff though. Sort of like a music video – uses a lot of special effects in an attempt to sell a song. Often a poor song. The body count is high.

      The sad thing is that there are people around – and actors – who could have done something better. Yet it’s really a magical thing when a Classic (like the original) and all it’s components come together – the Director, the Writing, the Actors – a fluke collaboration. There’s no ‘formula’. Sturges deserves the most credit – but without that incredible cast – Brynner, Wallach, et al – it wouldn’t have happened.
      I really saw no ‘inspired’ vision behind the remake.

      1. Pretty much what I thought. I guess it doesn’t mean that much to me to see it. Maybe I’m getting too old and set in my ways. Or maybe I have a one-track mind: I would, indeed, miss Eli too much!

    1. Howdy .. YES, that’s on most Western fans Top Ten List. They are working on a remake starring Denzel Washington. But we don’t look for it to be a Classic as the original.

  2. Another one of my favourites. What a great blog – all my favourites in one spot. Open Range, Last of the Mohicans, Magnificent Seven, Vera Cruz and…and…and! Thanks for the great pieces.

    1. Thank you very kindly. I have a few more to post up there – and a lot of editing and updating to do. I have to say that my appreciation for many Westerns deepens once I take a closer look at them.

      1. I’ve been looking – and looking – at A Man Called Horse. And the more I look, the more I see. It’s a problem, because I get hooked and held up – when I outta be moving along. Oh well, I do enjoy it all and I hope others do too.

  3. I agree that it is not likely to equal the original cast. It was just a once in a lifetime case where all these stars and future stars were available at the same time.

    That was the problem with the TV Series of The Magnificent Seven. The audience didn’t know, or care to know any of the actors. The only 2 I can recall was Ron Perlman and Dale Midkiff. Perlman was known for the TV Series Beauty and the Beast and as Hellboy on the big screen. He is a good actor. Midkiff, in my opinion, is a grade B TV-Movie actor. I recall he played Elvis in one of them. Their characters were most likely based on characters from Return of the Seven and Guns of The Magnificent Seven that were played by James Whitmore and Warren Oates, respectively. The Leads, Chris and Vin were played by 2 actors I am not familiar with, Michael Biehn and Eric Close. The only actor associated with the original movie was Robert Vaughn, who occasionally appeared as the local circuit judge.

    I am afraid any big screen remake will run into the same problem.

    The remake of Oceans Eleven was able to get a cast of stars together, and turned it into a successful franchise, so we hope the same can be done with The Magnificent Seven, but I am not very confident that it can be done.

    1. They haven’t given up on it yet.
      It can be done, but it’s daunting. You need some good people to put it together – good writing – good director – great cast …
      I took a stab at the casting:
      What do you think of that?? Pretty expensive bunch .. but do-able.

      1. Not bad. I really like Viggo as Vin and Defoe in Bronson’s role.

        I was really surprised that Denzel was approached for the lead. Did you notice the report always showed him with a shaved head like Brenner? I wonder if he would go for that look if he accepts the part.
        He might make an interesting Chris. I think I would prefer him over Cruise.

        I was thinking maybe Leonardo DiCaprio in the Horst Bucholz role, but his salary would probably equal the budget for the entire film.

        Leonardo’s Django co-star, Jamie Fox proved to be a pretty good western actor, too. Maybe they could have him as one of the seven. I am not predjudice, or anything, but I never considered a black actor until I watched the report with Denzel. The Seven are hired guns and social outcasts, so it would be likely some of them would be black. History shows there were a lot of black cowboys out West, even if they were not represented by the Hollywood Westerns of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

        I don’t think I could sit down and come up with a complete cast, as you did, I complement you for that. Most of my favorite Western actors are, like me, too old to do this movie. Maybe I can come up with a cast for a remake of The Over The Hill Gang and cast Eastwood, Costner, Duvall, Sam Elliott, Gene Hackman, Donald Sutherland, and people like that.

      2. I don’t get tired of Westerns – not enough being made i say. so your idea goes well with me. My M7 would break the bank I think, but would definitely draw a crowd.
        I’ll have to check on Washington’s M7 … see if there’s an update.

  4. I had never heard of Horst Bucholz before this movie and never saw him again afterward. I noticed in the movie posters, almost everyone one of them has him billed higher than Bronson and Vaughn and equal to Wallach and McQueen, so he must have been known to someone. Was he a star in Germany?

    You mentioned Eli Wallach as a nice, clean bandito. I read in an interview, where he pointed out that he did not want to be the typical, dirty Mexican Bandit. He wanted to show that he enjoyed the ill-gotten gains of his profession, thus the red silk shirt and fancy vest.

    An ironic piece of trivia: Yul Brenner debuted the character Chris in the first 2 movies, But the character was played by Lee Van Cleef in ‘The Magnificent Seven Ride’ because Brenner was committed to another movie ‘Adios, Sabata’ playing the title role, which was a character debuted by Van Cleef in 1969. It was as if they traded movie franchises that one time.

    Van Cleef went back to the role for ‘Return of Sabata’ in 1971, but Brenner never played Chris again. George Kennedy assumed the role for ‘Guns of The Magnificent Seven’ in the second sequel in 1969.

    1. There have been several futile attempts to re-capture the magic of The Magnificent 7. Most fall way short. Western fans would dearly love to see a decent remake. BUT the stumbling block is assembling 7 actors to equal the original cast. And I don’t think that can be done. Do you?

  5. Yul Brynner also went on spaghetti western (Adios Sabata, 1971)… and Robert Vaughn also, in a (late) italian western called Renegade (1987) with Terence Hill. But the one to become very famous in the spaghetti-western Universe is Charles Bronson.

      1. Please list all of Charles Bronson’s Westerns. Thanks! P.S. I love your choice of favorite Westerns.

  6. One of the greatest westerns of all time. When it came out it was largely ignored at first, but is now considered to be one of the great ground breaking motion picture events. After Magnificent Seven westerns changed profoundly. Within a few years Clint Eastwood was starring in his spaghetti westerns and Sergio Leone had made Once Upon a Time in the West.

    Magnificent Seven is interesting in that it was not a traditional western at all; rather it is an epic masterpiece with a huge cast and almost non-stop action. In this film there is no lone gunman bravely facing down the bad guys on his own; instead there are multiple bigger-than-life characters including the great Eli Wallach as the villainous bandit chief.

    Almost all of the principle actors went on to become major stars in their own right. Yul Brynner, of course, was already a major Hollywood Star, but soon Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Robert Vaughn went on to match him in popularity and box office appeal. And Wallach is one of the great film villains of all time.

    One of the interesting things to watch in the film is the continual attempts of Steve McQueen to steal every scene. Watch him, as he takes off his hat, fiddles with something in the background, or moves around to attract the attention of the viewer away from the centre of the scene. Eventually this became so annoying to Brynner that he told McQueen that if he removed his hat one more time he would do the same; and his bald head would eclipse everything in the shot.

    Great film and number one on my list.

    1. McQueen’s antics were almost obnoxious. And uncalled for – he had enough charisma to hold his own. He admitted later to what he did, saying that he feared Brynner’s obvious Stardom would eclipse him if he didn’t try to upstage Yul.
      As you mention, some of the Stars in The Magnificent 7 went on to Star in Spaghetti Westerns: Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach.

    2. McQueen’s antics were almost obnoxious. And uncalled for – he had enough charisma to hold his own. He admitted later to what he did, saying that he feared Brynner’s obvious Stardom would eclipse him if he didn’t try to upstage Yul.

      As you say, some of the Stars in The Magnificent 7 went on to Star in Spaghetti Westerns: Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach. It was an important Western and I’m just about to post an Update on the rumoured Remake.

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