Eli Wallach

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven

In the Mexican village of Ixcatlan, the villagers have an ongoing problem with being raided by Calvera (Eli Wallach) and his band of thieves.  They ride into the village, rape the women, and take most of the village’s food, leaving the villagers to starve.  Few people are brave enough to try to stand up to Calvera, and those who are are killed.  After one raid, three of the villagers decide to put a stop to it.  They visit the village elder for advice, who suggests buying some guns.

The villagers head to a town near the border to buy guns.  When they arrive, they arrive just in time to watch Chris (Yul Brynner) and Vin (Steve McQueen) drive a hearse with the body of a Native American through town.  Some residents don’t approve of a Native being buried in the cemetery and try to shoot at the hearse as it passes, but Chris and Vin have no problem returning fire.  That evening, the villagers approach Chris about buying guns and explain their situation to him.  Even though the villagers don’t have much to offer in the way of payment, Chris offers to round up a team of gunslingers to go to the village, teach some of the villagers to use guns, and help them take care of Calvera.

Chris’ team of gunslingers includes himself, Vin, Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), Britt (James Coburn), Lee (Robert Vaughn), and Chico (Horst Buchholz).  When they ride in to Ixcatlan, the villagers are initially fearful of the gunslingers and all the women hide from them, but they eventually become close to the villagers.  The day after arriving in Ixcatlan, three of Calvera’s bandits are found near the village and it’s believed they had been sent to get information to plan another raid.  The gunslingers get to work training the villagers to fight Calvera.

When Calvera rides into the village again, Chris, Vin, and Britt are waiting for him.  Calvera is unfazed and offers to split the loot with them, but they don’t back down.  A gunfight ensues, but Calvera’s men aren’t ready for one and the gunslingers and the villagers are able to take out many of Calvera’s men.  Later, Chico disguises himself and sneaks into Calvera’s camp and finds out they are low on food so the raid will be coming soon.  Chris plans a raid on Calvera’s camp, but when they arrive, the camp is empty.  Upon returning to Ixcatlan, they find it taken over by Calvera.  This time, Calvera is ready for a gunfight and a number of villagers, as well as Bernardo, Lee, Harry, and Britt, are killed in the battle. Chris guns down Calvera.

The following day, Chris, Vin, and Chico help bury the dead.  Chico decides to stay in the village with Petra (Rosenda Monteros), a girl he has fallen in love with.  Chris and Vin prepare to ride off and the village elder tells them that only winners here are the villagers.  As they leave town, they realize just how true that is.

I feel like every time I write about a Western, I mention that I’m not a huge fan of Westerns.  But every year that I do Blogging Under the Stars, I do end up watching at least one Western that I enjoy and this year, that Western seems to be The Magnificent Seven.  I loved The Magnificent Seven!  It’s one of those movies that just grabs my attention from the beginning and doesn’t let it go until the very end.  With a great screenplay, first rate direction from John Sturges, and a, well, magnificent cast, The Magnificent Seven proves to be an exception to the idea that remakes aren’t a good idea.  I’ve had a copy of this movie for a long time and never got around to watching until now and I’m kicking myself for not taking a look at it sooner.  It’s loaded with thrills and excitement.  Simply wonderful!

What’s on TCM: December 2010

December can only mean one thing: Christmas movies galore!  Up this month are plenty of traditional Christmas classics along with a few off-beat ones that will certainly please fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  In addition to that, every Thursday in December, TCM will be saluting living legend Mickey Rooney by playing 24 hours of his movies, including every Andy Hardy movie and all his pairings with Judy Garland.  Speaking of living legends, a new episode of Private Screenings will be premiering this month featuring Liza Minnelli.  To celebrate, TCM will be taking two nights to showcase some of the best movies by Liza, Judy, and Vincente.  This month’s guest programmer is Eli Wallach, who has made some very stellar choices.  Fans of John Wayne will be glad to hear that on December 22, there will be 24 hours of nothing but John Wayne.  When New Year’s Eve rolls around, why not bid 2010 adieu with Cary Grant movies all day and Marx Brothers movies all night?  And to top it all off, the final two installments of the Moguls and Movie Stars series air this month on the first two Mondays and Wednesdays.

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