In 1960, Director John Sturges, would turn a 1954 motion picture masterpiece, by Japanese Director Akira Kurosawa, into a classic American Western that would spawn three sequels. Sturges' picture would have a theme song, composed by Elmer Bernstein, that would top the Billboard and Foreign Charts.
The story begins with Japan's "Toho Studio" in the productive year of 1954. That year's films included "The Invisible Man", "Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto", the World War Two love story, "Farewell Rabaul", and eight other feature films. One of those eight others was the:
七人の侍 (SEVEN SAMURAI) released April 26, 1954
Now, Kurosawa turned to feudal Japan and wanted to make a motion picture about a day in the life of one Samurai. However, the Director and Screenplay Writer came upon a story of a group of Samurai who defended some farmers against a warlord. The result was his classic "Seven Samurai" instead.
The screenplay was a collaboration between Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, 1950's "Rashomon" and 1952's "Ikiru", and Hideo Oguni, 1952's "Ikiru".
The Seven Samurai:
Toshiro Mifune portrayed "Kikuchiyo". The actor had worked with Akira Kurosawa since playing "Matsunaga" in 1948's "Drunken Angel". Mifune's other characters for the Director included, "Detective Murakami" in 1949's "Stray Dog", "Tajomaru the Outlaw" in 1950's "Rashomon" and "Denkichi Akama" in 1951's "The Idiot".
Takashi Shimura portrayed "Kambei Shimada". Besides being known as the leader of the Samurai. Shimura appeared in several of Akira Kurosawa's other films. He was "Sanada" in 1948's "Drunken Angel", "Chief Detective Sato" in 1949's "Stray Dog" the "Woodcutter" in 1950's "Rashomon" and "Kanji Watanabe" in "Ikiru"
However, it is his role as a paleontologist in another 1954 Toho production. That to many Science Fiction Fans, far overshadows "Seven Samuari". The motion picture was a strong allegorical anti-nuclear bomb story and would spawn a major franchise recognized around the World. The title was "Gojira" and Takashi Shimura portrayed "Dr, Kyohei Yamane".
Above Takashi Shimura in 1954's "Seven Samurai" and below in 1954's "Gojira".
Daisuke Kato portrayed "Shichiroji". Kato first appeared on-screen prior to World War 2 in 1936 and was seen in the 1941 production of "The 47 Ronin". The character actor appeared as a "Policeman" in 1950's "Rashomon" and portrayed a "Yakuza" crime member in 1952's "Ikiru".
Isao "Ko" Kimura portrayed "Katsushiro Okamoto". Kimura portrayed "Shinjiro Yusa" in 1949's "Stray Dog" and was a medical "Intern" in 1952's "Ikiru".
Minoru Chiaki portrayed "Heihachi Hayashida". Chiaki portrayed "The Girlie Show Director" in 1949's "Stray Dog", "The Priest" in 1950's "Rashomon", "Mutsuo Kayama, the Secretary" in 1951's "The Idiot" and "Noguchi" in 1952's "Ikiru".
In 1955, Chiaki portrayed the tragic "Koji Kobayashi" in "Gojira no gyakushu (Counter Attack of Godzilla)" aka: "Godzilla Raids Again".
Above Minoru Chiaki in 1954's "Seven Samurai" and below, on the right, in 1955's "Godzilla Raids Again"
Yoshiro Inaba portrayed "Gorobei Katayama". This was only the actor's third motion picture and he would be seen in Akira Kurosawa's 1957's "Throne of Blood". Which was a Feudal Japan adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth".
Shinpei Takagi portrayed "The Bandit Chief". Takagi had been acting since 1922 and initially retired in 1935, returned for one motion picture in 1949, retired, returned in 1954 for "Seven Samuari", retired once again and then was brought out of retirement for Akira Kurasawa's 1957's "Throne of Blood". His final feature was Kurosawa's 1961 "Yojimbo", with Toshiro Mifune, and that was turned into Sergio Leone's "Fistful of Dollars" in 1964.
Kokuten Kodo portrayed "The Village Elder, Gisaku". Kodo started film acting in 1923 and portrayed the "Old Landlord" in 1949's "Stray Dog" and "Jumpei" in 1952's "The Idiot".
In 1954, he portrayed the "Old Fisherman who speaks to the Reporter at the Village ceremony", in "Gojira" and in 1955 was the "Tribal Chief" in "Mountain Snowman". That was extremely cut and re-edited into 1958's "Half-Human", almost entirely removing Kodo's role.
Keiko Tsushima portrayed "Shino", a young girl posing as a boy. Tsushima would have 79 roles to her film credit between 1947 and 2002.
The basic plot was divided into two sections with an intermission. The running time of the feature was Three Hours and Twenty-Seven minutes.
Bandits are unknowingly overheard planning a raid on a village of farmers once the harvest is in. Those who overheard go to their Village Elder, "Gisaku", for his wisdom and he relates hearing about a village that hired a Samurai to protect them against bandits. As they have no money to pay any Samurai, "Gisaku" advises to find "Hungry Samurai".
A group is sent out to locate some "Hungry Samurai" for the village to feed in trade for protection. They come across "Kambei", who is an aging but experience "ronin", in the process of rescuing a young boy held captive by cornered thief. After saving the boy, a young inexperienced Samurai, "Katsushiro", asks to be the older man's disciple. The farmers approach, but the old Samurai is reluctant to help them and then, after some thought, agrees.
"Kambie" now recruits other Samurai for the defense of the farmers village. These include his old friend "Shichiroji", and the friendly, but willy "Gorobei". Next, it's the good-natured "Heihachi" and the master swordsman "Kyuzo", but because time is short, the untried "Katsushiro" becomes the sixth member of the group.
As the six samurai head for the village, they're being followed. Finally this wild man, "Kikuchiyo", who claims to be a Samurai and carries an alleged family scroll as proof, confronts the others. However, the scroll is not for a man as old as "Kikuchiyo", the six refuse his request to join them, but he keeps following.
Once at the village, they find everyone in hiding. Feeling insulted, "Kikuchiyo" rings the village alarm bell and the people come out of their homes and beg from the protection of the, now, "Seven Samurai". Slowly, the villagers and Samurai form a comradeship and defenses are built. While "Katsushiro" is also forming a relationship with "Shino", a farmer's daughter masquerading as a young boy, because of her father's misbelief that the group of Samurai would rape her.
"Kikuchiyo" brings the other six men armor and weapons the villagers have collected. It's obvious that they came from either finding dead Samurai, or the villagers killing individual Samurai. The others want to refuse the much needed armor, because of its source. In an outburst by "Kikuchiyo", the truth that he is also a farmer comes out, he lectures the six about how Samurai have treated farmers with disrespect and forced them into labor. The moment completes a bonding of all "Seven Samurai".
Three Bandit Scouts are spotted and two killed. Against the Samurai's wishes, the farmers kill the one surviving Bandit Scout and this leads to a pre-emptive strike against the Bandits.
The Bandits lauch a retaliatory attack on the village and meet new fortifications as several of them die, but so does "Heihachi". On the outskirts of the village is an old mill that "The Village Elder, Gisaku", lives at and he refuses to go to the village for safety. The Bandits attack the mill and "Gisaku's Family" attempts to save him. All, but a baby die! Who, after being rescued by "Kiksushiro", causes the strong Samurai to break into tears, because he is also an orphan.
The Bandits attack again and "Gorobei" is killed! Later that night "Kambei" predicts, that due to their diminishing numbers, that Bandits will launch an all-out attack. Meanwhile, the relationship between "Shino" and the young Samurai "Katsushiro" is finally discovered by her father. He beats his daughter until "Kambei" and the villagers intervene. "Shichiroji" tells everyone that the two lovers should be forgiven, because their young and passions always run high before a battle.
The following morning there is a torrential downpour and "Kambei" orders the remaining Bandits and their leader to be let into the village for the final confrontation.
As the battle nears its end, the Bandit hides in a hut with women, but also has a gun. He shoots and kills "Kyuzo". Enraged, "Kikuchiyo" charges into the hut and is shot, but manages to kill the Bandit leader before dying himself.
In the end we lost this battle too. The victory belongs to the peasants, not to us.
I've already mentioned the titles of some of Akira Kurosawa's work based upon two classic Russian authors and one Elizabethan playwright. Six years after the original release date of the "Seven Samurai". American Director John Sturges would move Feudal Japan to the American West and be the first to do the reverse on Kurosawa, but before I go into his motion picture. I would suggest reading my article, "William Shakespeare By Akira Kurosawa: Kurosawa By America and Italy" located at:
The article does mention the follow motion picture.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN released October 12, 1960
The motion picture was Directed, as I have previously mentioned, by John Sturges. Among his work prior to this motion picture are, the sometimes overlooked Civil War Western from 1953, "Escape from Fort Bravo", starring William Holden, Eleanor Parker and John Forsythe and 1955's "Bad Day at Black Rock". Which sounds like a Western but is not, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan and a pre-"Forbidden Planet", Anne Francis. Not forgetting 1957's "The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas and the World War Two drama, 1959's "Never So Few", starring Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida and Peter Lawford.
The screenplay gives full credit to its source, Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni and then adds two American writers. The first is Walter Bernstein, the 1948 Film-Noir, "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands", starring Joan Fontaine and Burt Lancaster, and 1960's "Heller in Pink Tights", starring Sophia Loren, Anthony Quinn and Margret O'Brien. The second writer is Walter Newman, the excellent Kirk Douglas vehicle, 1951's "Ace in the Hole", and the adaptation of Fyodor Dostevsky's 1866 novel "Crime and Punishment". As the 1959 updated, "Crime and Punishment U.S.A.", starring George Hamilton in his first motion picture.
As I also mentioned in my introduction, the music and lyrics for "The Magnificent Seven" were written by composer Elmer Bernstein. Bernstein only won one "Academy Award" for his music, but was nominated 14 times. Among his most recognizable scores, besides this motion picture, are, Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 "The Ten Commandments", 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird". 1963's "The Great Escape", 1978's "Animal House" and 1984's "Ghostbusters". However, a Hollywood composer must start somewhere and for Elmer Bernstein. The start was with two 1953 low budget 3-D entries, "Robot Monster" and "Catwomen of the Moon".
Elmer Bernstein's score was nominated for an "Academy Award for Best Score of a Dramatic, or Comedy Motion Picture", but lost. However, the "American Film Institute" still lists it, as of this writing, at "Number 8" on the 25 Best American Film Scores.
The Magnificent Seven:
Note: I am giving the full character names, when known, that are on the screenplays, but not necessarily ever mentioned in the motion pictures.
Yul Brynner portrayed "Chris Larabee Adams". Although Brynner had been acting on television since 1944. It was the recreation of his original Broadway role of "King Mongkut of Siam", in the 1956 motion picture version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I", that brought the actor to the attention of Hollywood and audiences worldwide. That role was immediately followed, in the same year, by portraying "Rameses" in Cecil B. DeMille's epic remake of his 1923 "The Ten Commandments". In 1959, Yul Brynner was again a biblical personage. in Director King Vidor's, "Solomon and Sheba", co-starring with Gina Lollobrigida.
Both versions of "The Ten Commandments" and the movie, "Solomon and Sheba", are part of my article "The Bible According to Hollywood". Which starts in the silent Era and goes into the 1960's. As Directors such as Cecil B. DeMille, Robert Aldrich and John Huston turn the pages of the Old and New Testaments into accepted sex. My in depth article can be read at:
Steve McQueen portrayed "Vin Tanner". Mc Queen had been kicking around on television since 1952. Then in 1958, two events in September, changed all of that. The first, came on September 6th, when "Steve" McQueen first appeared as "Josh Randall" on televisions "Wanted Dead, or Alive".
The second, came on September 10th, when still billed as "Steven" McQueen. The 28 years old actor, appeared in a low budget Science Fiction film that became a cult classic, "The Blob". That film would lead to a role in John Sturges' 1959 "Never So Few" and a motion picture career.
Sturges had wanted McQueen as "Vin Tanner", but Actor-Director-Producer Dick Powell owned "Wanted Dead, or Alive" and wouldn't let him do the feature. McQueen, a known race car driver, faked an accident and while he was "Recuperating", filmed "The Magnificent Seven".
Horst Buchholz portrayed "Chico". The role was a composite of "Kikuchiyo" and "Katsushiro Okamoto" from the "Seven Samurai". Buchholz was a German actor, sometimes referred too as the "German James Dean", who had been acting in West German motion pictures since 1951. In 1959, he was seen in his first English language motion picture. This was the British crime thriller, "Tiger Bay", co-starring with Haley Mills, of Walt Disney's original "The Parent Trap", and her father, distinguished British actor, Sir John Mills.
"The Magnificent Seven" was only Horst Buchholz's second English language motion picture.
Charles Bronson portrayed "Bernardo O'Reilly". Charles Burchinsky started on-screen acting in 1949. Burchinsky is probably best remembered for portraying "Igor" in the 1953 3-D motion picture, "House of Wax". In 1955, for the live television production of "A Bell for Adano", his new manager had Burchinsky change his last name to the more "American Sounding" Bronson. Like Steven McQueen, 1958 was a major year for Charles Bronson. In May, he starred in Roger Corman's "Machine Gun Kelly", and in October, although it only lasted for one season, his own television series "Man with a Camera". In 1959 Bronson also joined the cast of John Sturges' "Never So Few".
Robert Vaughn portrayed "Lee". Since 1955 Vaughn was also doing television work. Although in 1956 he was both a "Spearman" and a "Hebrew at the Golden Calf" in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments". In 1958, both Robert Vaughn and Director Roger Corman claimed not being associated with American International Pictures "Teenage Cave Man", because that wasn't the title, "Prehistoric World", of the motion picture they made. Vaughn had 8th billing in 1959's "The Young Philadelphians", starring Paul Newman and Barbara Rush, and then it was back to television until this feature film.
In 1980 Robert Vaughn portrayed "Gelt", basically "Lee" with a little bit of Charles Bronson's "Bernardo" added, in Roger Corman's Science Fiction version of "The Magnificent Seven", "Battle Beyond the Stars".
A look at Robert Vaughn's "Teenage Cave Man" and "Steven" McQueen's "The Blob", are part of my article, "I Was A Teenage Werewolf: 1950's Teenage Horror Movies" at:
Brad Dexter portrayed "Harry Luck". Supporting Character Actor Dexter started in 1940, with the role of "A Student", in the James Stewart and Margret O'Brien anti-Nazi, "The Mortal Storm". In 1947 he was in the Douglas Fairbanks and Maureen O'Hara, "Sinbad the Sailor", in 1952 it was "Macao" starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, and in 1956, Brad Dexter had 6th billing in "Between Heaven and Hell", starring Robert Wagner and Terry Moore. Then he became strictly a television actor until this feature film.
James Corburn portrayed "Britt". Corburn had been appearing strictly on television since 1953 and this was his first feature film. "Seven Samuari" was a favorite of the actors, at the time Corburn had seen it 15 times, and when he heard about this motion picture, he wanted in. He only got the role after both Sterling Hayden and John Ireland turned it down.
Two days before the release of "The Magnificent Seven", James Corburn became the star of the television series "Klondike", unfortunately it last for only six episodes and was cancelled. A year later he co-starred in the television series "Acapulco", which lasted for eight episodes, before being cancelled. James Corburn's second motion picture was the 1962 World War 2 drama, from Director Don Siegel, "Hell is for Heroes". He had 5th billing behind, Steve McQueen, Bobby Darin, Fess Parker and Harry Guardino. Corburn would come into his own with the great "James Bond" spoof, 1967's "Our Man Flint".
Three Other Major Roles:
Eli Wallach portrayed "Bandit Chief Calvera". Wallach first appeared on-screen in a 1951 episode of television's version of the radio Horror program "Lights Out". His first motion picture, 1956's "Baby Doll", earned the actor the "BAFTA" for "Best Newcomer" and a "Golden Globe" nomination for "Best Supporting Actor".
This motion picture was only Eli Wallach's second feature film and the Brooklyn born, Jewish actor, played his first Hispanic role. Two other Hispanic roles would be seen in the 1962 Cinerama production "How the West Was Won", and, as "Tuco, the Ugly", in Sergio Leone's 1966 Spaghetti Western, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". While in 1965's "Genghis Khan", Wallach portrayed "The Shah of Khwarezm", and in Peter Boyle's 1974 "Crazy Joe", he was "Don Vittorio".
Vladimir Sokoloff portrayed "The Old Man". Sokoloff studied at the "Moscow Art Theatre", but started his on-screen career between Germany and France in 1926. Sokoloff was a master of foreign accents and mannerisms. He was 8th billed in 1940's "Comrade X" starring Clark Gable and Heddy Lamarr, in 1943 he was 5th billed in the Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman version of Ernest Hemmingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and in 1945, Sokoloff, dropped to 13th billing in 1945's "Back to Baatan".
Rosenda Monteros portrayed "Petra". Monteros was a Mexican actress and "The Magnificent Seven" was only the first of two English language features for the actress. Her second came from the British "The House of Hammer" and was 1965's "SHE", starring Ursula Andress.
"Calvera" and his Bandit band attack small villages throughout Mexico. The picture opens with them riding into a farm village to take what they want, but a man decides to fight back and is shot dead by "Calvera". After the Bandits leave, the villagers go to the "Old Man" for advice. He gives them a gold watch and tells these men to collect from the other villagers and go across the border to buy guns.
Three of the villagers arrive in a small border town as a funeral is about to take place.
They observe a traveling salesman arguing with "Chamlee, the Undertaker", played by Whit Bissell, 1954's "Creature from the Black Lagoon", 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" and "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein", and 1960's "The Time Machine", that he's paid for a funeral and wants it completed. The undertaker has no problems with burying "Old Charlie", except that he was an Indian, and certain elements of the town don't want him buried even on "Boot Hill". The undertaker can't find a driver for the coach, because there are men waiting to shoot anyone who brings it there.
Watching the exchange is "Chris", who says he'll ride the coach, and "Vin" decides to ride shotgun. As the two gunfighters exchange introductions and the dialogue implies that they're of a dying breed. The funeral coach is followed by the townspeople and two stage coach drivers. All have put up the money to "Chamlee" to repair the coach should it be shot up.
After the body is delivered for burial, the two gunfighters separate and that evening "Chris" is visited by the three farmers. He tells them it is easier to buy men than guns.
The four go down to the local saloon and "Chico" comes in and approaches "Chris". "Chico" has heard "Chris" is hiring gunfighters and he wants to join him. However, the young man makes a fool of himself in a simple test from "Chris" and leaves. One of the farmers remarks that he is young and the gunfighter remarks he might not live to see old age.
"Vin" now joins the four men. He mentions having heard of work in Mexico for some farmers and "Chris" replies that these are the farmers and explains the job. Each gunfighter gets twenty dollars, food and a place to sleep. "Vin" replies that he was just hired as a store clerk and one of the farmers says that working in a store is a respectable job, but not, in "Vin's" mind for a gunfighter.
"Vin" asks "Chris" how many men does he have and the gunfighter in black raises one finger. "Vin" holds up two---
Now the search for other men begins. The two find "Bernardo O'Reilly" chopping wood for his breakfast. "O'Reilly" mentions the hundreds of dollars he's received in the past, but admits twenty dollars sounds like a lot at the time. When asked where he'll be, replies right were he is chopping wood.
Next, the two men go to the railroad yards and watch "Britt" prove that he can throw a knife faster than the taunting man, "Wallace", played by Robert J. Wilke, 1952's "High Noon", Walt Disney's 1954 "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and 1981's "Stripes", can draw his gun and fire.
As "Britt" walks away, after loosing his job, "Chris" approaches him and now they're four. The night they go to a shack behind a store. Cautiously the two open the door to find "Lee" sitting on a bed.
"Lee" had been hired to kill a man and did his job too well. There were brothers and he is now being pursued and in hiding. He is also plagued by nightmares of fallen enemies and choices wrongly made. Going to Mexico is a perfect escape from the pursuers, if not his self doubt.
Back in his hotel room there is a knock on the door and again with caution, "Chris" opens it, to reveal "Harry Luck". "Luck" wants to know what the deal is and "Chris" attempts to talk him out of it, because this is not "Harry's" type of work. However, "Luck" is convinced that "Chris" is hiding the real reason for going and it's either gold, or silver.
Note: The screenplay and Director Sturges is showing the audience the changing American West through the motivations of each of the five gunfighters to go with "Chris". As they are now faced with the creeping closeness of "Civilization".
The next morning the six gunfighters and the three farmers leave for Mexico, but keep observing that at a distance "Chico" is following them. One morning, he has seemed to have disappeared, and the nine men keep riding until at a stream they find "Chico" cooking fish. He invites the nine to join him, but "Chris" invites "Chico" to join him.
They now arrive to a seeming empty village and meet the "Old Man". Who tells them the villagers are simple farmers and frightened of the gunfighters!
Suddenly, the church alarm bell rings out and the villagers come running from their homes in confusion. Up in the bell tower stands "Chico", who goes down and out the church door to lecture the villagers as to why they've come to help them.
NOW WE ARE SEVEN!As the group now interacts with the villagers, one thing stands out, there are no young women. "Chico" has ridden out to the countryside and finds a lone, old bull, plays matador, but also notices someone watching him.
"Chico" chases the stranger, only to discover he's actually "Petra".
Now, the young women are returned to the village. As in the "Seven Samurai", there is a budding romance between "Chico" and "Petra", but there is no father involved. While eating a large dinner, it is revealed that the villages are giving the seven men the majority of their food, and this is corrected. The training of the men continues.
This will results in a shootout and the death of eight more of "Calvera's" men. He takes his remaining men and leaves as the villagers rejoice. However, "Chris" knows they will return and the seven go out to his camp to find it deserted. Upon returning to the village, they are ambushed by "Calvera" as the frightened villagers have sold out their seven defenders.
"Calvera" makes his first mistake of letting the "Seven" go. As he believes that farmers are not worth fighting over. The "Seven" prepare to leave and "Chris" and "Vin" admit they've grown to like the farmers. "Bernardo" gets angry at the three boys, who have attached themselves to him, because they call their fathers cowards. Adding to this, "Chico" says he hates the farmers, but "Chris" tells the young man it is because he is also a farmer from a village like this one. To which "Chico" replies, that it's men like "Calvera" that make the farmers the cowards they are.
The "Seven" are escorted out of the village and at some distance from it. "Calvers's" men return their guns, the second mistake made by "Calvera". A debate takes place and all, but "Harry Luck" want to return to the village and kill the bandits. "Harry" leaves, and the others turn toward the farmers.
This all leads to the climatic battle, the return of "Harry", and the deaths of four of the "Seven".
When "Calvera" is cornered and dying. He still wants to "WHY" the "SEVEN" came back for farmers?
In the end, only "Chris", "Vin" and "Chico" remain and as the three start to ride away. "Chico" realizes his love for "Petra" and where he belongs, says good-bye to his friends, and turns back to become a farmer again.
The Director for the picture was an excellent choice in Burt Kennedy. Kennedy had started in 1956 as a screenplay writer for Randolph Scott Westerns. His work would eventually include the films he also Directed. Those included the Henry Fonda 1967 Western, "Welcome to Hard Times", the same years John Wayne and Kirk Douglas "The War Wagon", James Garner's 1969 "Support Your Local Sheriff" and its 1971 sequel, "Support Your Local Gunfighter". Along with the John Wayne, Ann-Margaret, Rod Taylor and Ben Johnson, 1973 "The Train Robbers".
The hard assignment of writing a sequel to one of the most known Westerns went solely to television writer Larry Cohen. This was his first feature film and he had been writing for television since 1958.
Four of the original characters return in Cohen's screenplay, "Chris", "Vin", "Chico" and now his wife, "Petra".
Elmer Bernstein returned and wrote the score. He was again nominated for an "Academy Award", but many consider this score essentially a rewrite of his 1960 film score.
The New Seven:
Robert Fuller now portrayed "Vin Tanner". Fuller started out with uncredited small roles in feature films in 1952. Two years later, he had an on-screen credited role in the forgotten television series "The Man Behind the Badge". Then it was back to uncredited roles in both films and television until 1957's Science Fiction movie "The Brain from Planet Arous". From that point on, Fuller was receiving on-screen credit on several television programs. In 1959, Fuller had his first starring role, this was the Western television series "Laramie", and that lasted through 1963. Also, in 1959, Robert Fuller did double duty. appearing on television "Wagon Train" into 1965.
Julian Mateos portrated "Chico". This was the only English language movie for the Spanish philosophy student turned actor. Who in 1981 ended his career in a Spanish television mini-series portraying "Miguel de Cervantes" the author of "Don Quixote".
Warren Oates portrayed "Colbee". Oates was appearing on television Westerns at the time, but right after this production. The actor was seen in both 1967's "Welcome to Hard Times" and the Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger drama, "In the Heat of the Night".
Claude Atkins portrayed "Frank". Like Warren Oats, Western character actor Claude Akins, was basically appearing on television Westerns when he made this film. He would also appear, in 1966, in the forgotten Chuck Connors and Michael Rennie Western, "Ride Beyond Vengeance".
Virgilio Teixeira portrayed "Luis Delgado". The Portuguese actor had appeared in Spanish and Portuguese language films since 1943. His first English language motion picture was the excellent 1956 "Alexander the Great", starring Richard Burton and Frederick March. Teixeira had the role of "Ali" in Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen's 1958 "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and a uncredited role in Director Anthony Mann's 1961 epic "El Cid", starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.
Jordan Christopher portrayed "Manuel". Christopher was also an American television actor and appeared in the forgotten television series "Secrets of Midland Heights", 1980 to 1981, and the Christopher Walken 1983 Science Fiction, "Brainstorm".
Fernando Rey portrayed "The Priest". Considered one of the greatest of Spanish actors. Rey is probably best known to American audiences as "Frog One" in both the William Friedkin Directed 1971, "The French Connection", and its sequel, 1975's "The French Connection II", both starring Gene Hackman.
Emilio Fernandez portrayed "Loca". Without on-screen credit, between 1930 and 1933, Fernandez appeared in five Bob Steele "B" Westerns, an Adventure picture with William "Stage" Boyd and Victor McLagen and as a dancer in "Flying Down to Rio". The motion picture which introduced the dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers,. Next, Emilo "El Indio" FernAndez, appeared in the first of his "Mexican Revolution" motion pictures that became his trade mark. These films would make Emilio Fernandez one of the most famous of Mexican actors.
Above left is Emilio Fernandez and right the familiar face of Rodolfo Acosta
This is basically a reworking of the original motion picture with a couple of changes. The movie opens with a group of armed riders coming into the same Mexican village from 1960's "Magnificent Seven" and rounding up men, chaining them together, and starting a forced march into the desert for unknown reasons. Among those taken is "Chico" and now "Petra" goes in search of "Chris".
The story switches to a Mexican town and the bull ring. There "Chris" is watching the bull fights as "Vin", whom he hasn't seen for the last six years, spots him. "Vin" joins "Chris" and they watch a young man, "Manuel", jump into the bull ring to fight the bull as a matador. The owners of the ring attempt to stop him, but "Chris" and "Vin" get the crowd to support "Manuel" and the young man fights the bull to cheers from the onlookers.
"Manuel" thanks "Chris" and "Vin" and leaves them, but are reunited at a "cockfight" in which "Manuel" wins. However, a man challenges him and it's up to "Chris" to again protect the young man.
"Petra" shows up and tells "Vin" and "Chris" what happened to "Chico" and the others. Now, it's time to create the new "Seven".
The six men take "Petra" to her home. Leaving her safe, the six men head out into the desert after discovering the farmers are being used to rebuild a small village and it's destroyed church. "Chris" rides into the site and meets "Lorca", "Lopez" and the "Priest".
"Chris" learns the rebuilding, by large rancher "Lorca", is to honor his two dead sons that died in the village years ago. Returning to the other five men, "Chris" formulates a surprise attack to rescue "Chico" and the other workers. The attack works by driving out "Lorca", "Lopez" and their men, but the "Seven" now prepare for the obviously coming counterattack. However, the farmers are cowered and afraid to fight.
The final battle takes place and both "Chris" and "Lopez" discover that "Lorca's" son's were killed, because of his lack of leadership and not the heroic way he kept telling people. "Chris" confronts and kills the rancher and "Lopez", fed up with everything, takes the remaining men with him and leaves.
The battle has left "Frank", "Luis" and "Manuel" dead. "Chico" decides that he will rebuild the village and the church with the "Priest".
The audience next sees the desert village being populated by farmers and their families including "Petra". "Chico" and the "Priest" plan to make the village prosperous once again."Colbee" has met a Mexican girl and, his ways reformed, will help "Chico" and the "Priest", making the village his new home.
The movie ends, as the original, with "Chris" and "Vin" riding away.
The third entry in the series was released three years later.
THE GUNS OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN released May 28, 1969
The screenplay was by Herman Hoffman. Hoffman started writing screenplays and directing in 1934. At the time of this film, Herman Hoffman was a major television director and in some cases with his own screenplays. "Vin Tanner", "Chico" and "Petra" are not in this movie, but "Chris" remains from the original characters.
The Third Seven:
George Kennedy now portrayed "Chris Larabee Adams". Yul Brynner was offered the role, but declined. Producer Walter Mirisch offered George Kennedy, who had just won the "Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor" for 1967's "Cool Hand Luke", that starred Paul Newman. Kennedy had just been seen in 1968's "The Boston Strangler" and would follow this picture with Director Burt Kennedy's 1969 Western, "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys", co-starring with Robert Mitchum.
James Whitmore portrayed "Levi Morgan". Science Fiction fans know Whitmore from 1954's "THEM!", but he also played opposite Nancy Davis, pre-Reagan, in 1950's "The Next Voice You Hear". While fans of musicals knew James Whitmore from the 1953 3-D version of Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate" and the 1955 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!". In 1964, Whitmore portrayed real life White reporter John Finely Horton. Who had his skin medically treated to turn him black, so he can experience life as an African-American in "Black Like Me!". Later, James Whitmore wore Ape make-up in 1968's "Planet of the Apes".
Monte Markham portrayed "Keno". Markham first appeared on a two part episode of 1966's "Mission Impossible" and his first feature film was Director John Sturges 1967 "Hour of the Gun". Then he starred in the 1967, one season television series, "The Second Hundred Years". Markham had 4th billing in Director William Castle's 1968 "Project X" prior to this picture and then became strictly a television actor.
Reni Santoni portrayed "Maximiliano 'Max' O'Leary". Santoni started his career writing comedy and discovered motion pictures, playing gangster types, hard cases, and junkies in 1962. However, in this picture, he has, once again, the "Chico" role.
Bernie Casey portrayed "Cassie". This was the actors first on-screen role and he would follow this with films such as Director Ralph Nelson's 1970 "Tick, Tick, Tick", Director Roger Corman's 1972 "Boxcar Betha" with Barbara Hersey and David Carradine, play the title character in the 1972 made for television movie, "Gargoyle", and co-star with Tamara Dobson in 1973's "Cleopatra Jones".
Scott Thomas portrayed "P.J. Scurlock". Thomas only has 17 on-screen credits between 1967 and 1986. "Guns of the Magnificent Seven" was his sixth appearance.
Above, Scott Thomas, George Kennedy and Bernie Casey.
Joe Don Baker portrayed "Matt Slater". "Slater" is probably the most interesting character in this movie. Baker started on-screen acting in a 1965 episode of the Anne Francis television series "Honey West", had a non-credited role in "Cool Hand Luke" and otherwise appeared on television until this feature film. Later, the character actor would be seen in two "James Bond" movies with two actors playing the character, 1987's "The Living Daylights" and 1995's "Goldeneye". He was also in 1995's "Congo" and Tim Burton's 1996 "Mars Attacks".
Michael Ansara portrayed "Colonel Diego". Ansara actually started on-screen acting in 1944, but it was the 1956 to 1958 television series "Broken Arrow". In which he played Jeff Chandler's role of Apache Chief "Cochise", from the James Stewart 1950 motion picture, that finally brought him fame. Along with following that series with "The Law of the Plainsman", as a Native American U.S. Marshall, and in his personal life. Michael Ansara's marriage, at the time, to actress Barbara Eden.
Michael Ansara was not a Native American, but was born in what became Syria. Hollywood hardly ever used Native American actors to play Native Americans for decades. Although there were a few actual Native American actors. My article; "Native American's Hollywood Style" looks at this issue and can be read at:
Tony Davis portrayed "Emilio Zapata". Based upon Davis' age at the time. We can use it to place the story line as approximately 1889. Zapata served in the Mexican Revolution between 1910 and 1919. I could not locate a still with Davis in it.
The film opens with a meeting of revolutionaries led by "Angel Quintero". Suddenly, "Colonel Diego" arrives with his troops and demands "Quintero" give himself up. This leads to a shootout and "Quintero" gives his Lieutenant, "Maximiliano 'Max' O'Leary", $600 dollars, to use for the revolution against "President Diaz". The real "Diaz" was in office between 1884 and 1911.
"Keno" keeps claiming the horse is his, but nobody will listen. Then a voice is heard, and "Chris" says, there is a way to prove who the real owner is! The Sheriff and the real order ask how? To which "Chris" replies, let the horse tell you. The real owner agrees and "Chris" walks over to "Keno", who he's never met, and as the two talk, places him in front of a watering trough. Knowing the horse is thirsty, it does as expected, but now the real owner draws his gun and is shot by "Chris". The two-leave town in a hurry followed by "Max".
Next, the three arrive at a mine as dynamite goes off causing a cave-in and trapping some men. "Cassie", the dynamite expert, warned the others they were using too much, but the Black "Cassie" is blamed for the cave-in. "Cassie" now becomes the fourth member of the new group.
Next, "Keno" and "Chris" are in another town with a side-show. On stage is a man calling himself "Buffalo Bill", who does a gunfighter routine.
In reality, this is the ex-Confederate Officer "Slater". Whose left arm is useless from an old war wound. He makes five and the group goes to a saloon to discuss things. When "P.J.", a gunfighter dying from tuberculous approaches and asks "Chris", if he can join them? Lastly, "Chris" and "Keno" visit "Levi Morgan", an old knife fighter turned married man, but they need him.
The "Seven" now head for Mexico posing as Americans looking for silver.
Outside of the prison, housing "Quintero" in a cage in the ground, the seven men observe the situation and "Chris" decides to ride with "Keno" into the fortified prison. Before being able to enter, he gets a lot of information from a talkative guard. Inside, he sees several men tortured by "Colonel Diego" as "Angel Quintero" is forced to watch.
They now meet a little boy named "Emiliano Zapata" and, at a rest stop with local villagers, a girl, "Tina", played by Wende Wagner, seems to fall for the ailing "P.J.".
Now, arriving at the rest location, "Lobero" learns that instead of guns, which he wanted, "Max" hired gunfighters instead. "Lobero" tells everyone that he will not help release "Angel Quintero" and takes his men with him. Again, his "Lieutenant" was listening to "Lobero's words and observing the response of "Chris Larabee Adams".
Now realizing he is going to need help, "Chris", organizes a raid on a group of prisoners being escorted to "Colonel Diego". In the rescued group is "Emilio Zapata's" father.
When it looks like "Colonel Diego" is going to win in the end. Riding into the fire fight are "Carlos Lobero's" men, but without him. During the fighting, "Chris" asks "Lobero's Lieutenant" where the Bandit Chief is at, and is told "Lobero" suffered a "Stomach Ache".
As with the other two motion pictures, not all of the "Seven" live. "Chris", "Levi" and "Max" remain and the films ends with "Chris" and "Levi" riding out into the sunset. As "Max" realizes he's still has the $600 dollars and "Angel Quintero" tells him that "Chris" and the others were not fighting money.
Which brings me to the final entry of the original series.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE aka: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN 4 released August 1, 1972
Two points of interest about this feature film.
The first is that it was the only one of the four shot completely in the United States and mainly in California's "Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Park".
The second is that its the most violent of the four films.
The picture was Directed by George McCowan. Between 1960 and 1971, McCown only worked on television programs. In 1972, besides this picture, he Directed the Horror film "Frogs", and then returned to television.
The screenplay was by television writer Arthur Rowe. Rowe started television work in 1952 and in 1971 was one of three screenplay writers for the World War One motion picture "Zeppelin". This motion picture was both his second feature film screenplay and his last. As Arthur Rowe returned to television writing through 1982.
The Final Original Series Seven:
Lee Van Cleef was "Chris Larabee Adams", but not as in the three previous films. Van Cleef started his acting career as "Jack Colby" in the Gary Cooper classic Western, 1952's "High Noon". The actor appeared next on many television series including "Space Patrol" and "B" Westerns. In 1953, Lee Van Cleef killed Stop Motion Animator's "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms". In 1956, Lee Van Cleef was the younger brother in Howard Hughes' "The Conqueror", starring John Wayne as the older brother that becomes "Genghis Khan". Also that year, he co-starred with Peter Graves in Director Roger Corman's cult Science Fiction "It Conquered the World". During Italy's Spaghetti Western period, Lee Van Cleef appeared in many Westerns including two by Director Sergio Leone. Van Cleef was "Colonel Douglas Mortimer" in 1965's "For A Few Dollars More" and "Angel Eyes, the Bad" in 1966's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".
I have mentioned Spaghetti Westerns a few times, but Italy wasn't the only county making their version of the American West. My article, "American Western's European Style" is found at:
Luke Askew portrayed "Mark Skinner". Askew portrayed intense bad guys both on television and in motion pictures. In 1967, he was one of the prisoners in "Cool Hand Luke", in 1968 he was a soldier in two War movies. The first set in Vietnam, was John Wayne's "The Green Berets" and the secon,d the William Holden World War Two, "The Devil's Brigade". While in 1969 he was a man on the highway in "Easy Rider".
Pedro Armendariz, Jr. portrayed "Pepe Carral". Born in Mexico City, and the son of one of John Ford's Stock Company actors. The majority of Armendariz, Jr.'s work was in the Mexican cinema an with a occasional American production. Among Armendariz, Jr.'s films are the 1969 Mexican "Las Vampires", the Anthony Quinn 1968 "Guns for San Sebastian", 1974's "Earthquake" featuring George Kennedy, the 1981 Fay Dunaway made for TV movie "Evita Person" and the 1989 "James Bond" film "License to Kill".
James Sikking portrayed "Andy Hayes". Sikking started out as a "Union Sergeant" in Director Roger Corman's 1955 "Five Guns West", but basically appeared on television and in a occasional motion picture.. He would portray "Howard Hunter" in 144 episodes of televisions "Hill Street Blues" from 1981 through 1987 and "Dr. David Howser" in 97 episodes of "Doggie Howser, M.D.".
Above, left to right, Michael Callen, Lee Van Cleef and James Sikking.
William Lucking portrayed "Walt Drummond". Lucking had been in television acting since 1965 and this was his first motion picture and he returned to television acting.
Ed Lauter portrayed "Scott Eliot". Character actor Lauter, became a familiar face, if not a name, in several film genres. Among his work outside of television are 1975's "French Connection II" and the Charles Bronson "Breakheart Pass". He was also seen in the 1976 "King Kong" and Stephen King's 1983 "Cujo".
Four Other Major Roles:
Ralph Waite portrayed "Jim McKay". Waite is probably best known as "John Walton, Sr." on television's "The Walton's" from 1972 through 1981. However, he appeared before and after that series in several television programs and motion pictures starting in 1966. Among his early film work are, 1967's "Cool Hand Luke", the Jack Nicholson 1970 "Five Easy Pieces, Burt Lancaster's 1971 "Lawman, and Charles Bronson's 1972 "Chato's Land"
Stephanie Powers portrayed "Laurie Gunn". In 1963, Powers was John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara's daughter in "McLintock", on 1966 television she was "The Girl From Uncle" and portrayed Robert Wagner's wife on "Hart to Hart" from 1979 through 1984.
Gary Bussey portrayed "Hank Allen". Bussey started out in two psychedelic 1960's movies without on-screen credit. These were 1967's "The Love-Ins" and 1968's "Wild in the Streets". Next, it was a mix of television and feature films until this picture. In 1974, the actor was seen in the short lived, 8 episode, television series, 1974's "Texas Wheelers" and in 1976, Gary Bussey had third billing behind Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in "A Star is Born". Which he followed with the title role in "The Buddy Holly Story".
Mariette Hartley portrayed "Arrilla". Hartley started on-screen acting in Director Sam Peckinpah's 1962 Western, "Ride the High Country", starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. In 1964 the actress had 11th billing in Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie", starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. She became a television actress after that film with an occasional motion picture such as this.
"Chris" and "Noah" continued south and the two realize by tracking "Shelly Donovan". That they're circling back to "McKay" and the famers. Distant gunfire is heard and when "Chris" and "Noah" arrive at that location. They find some of the farmers dead, but no "Jim",
"Chris" and the others head straight for "De Toro's" hacienda and raid the place for supplies. They also discover his woman, played by Rita Rodgers, and kidnap her. Thereby, leaving a strong message to the Bandit Chief. When the new "Magnificent Seven" arrive in Magdalena with their captive the women want to get at her but "Chris" asks "Laurie" to watch her closely.
"Chris" next lays down some rules after putting the men on one side of the saloon and the women on the other.
"Chris" tells the two groups that they must be able to work together and for the women to choose a man, "Laurie Gunn" chooses "Chris". Next, the women are trained in fast loading the weapons for their man.
Now an elaborate trap for the Bandits is set up by "Chris". Construction worker, "Scott Elliott", is put in charge and with the women construct ditches, barbed wire fences, and some hidden barriers.
"De Toro" attempts a second attack, but by then the defenders are at a second line of defense. Dynamite is now used and when "De Toro" retreats a second time. They have left "Walt", "Hayes" and "Elliott" dead and "Noah" wounded. "Chris" and "Laurie" move the women, their children, and their prisoner into the town's mission church.
Awaiting "Juan De Toro's" final assault, "Chris" tells "Laurie" that his final plan will be to lure the remaining Bandits into the church and blow it up with planted dynamite. "De Toro" attacks, "Pepe" is killed, "Laurie" releases "Juan De Toro's" woman, who runs out into the street and is accidently killed by the Bandit. The momentary shock gives "Chris" the chance to kill the Bandit leader and end it.
"Chris", "Noah" and "Skinner" are the only remaining men and the three decide to stay in Magdalena and start new lives.
So ended the original four motion pictures.
On September 8, 2016 a new version of "The Magnificent Seven" was released Directed by Antoine Fuqua. On-screen credit for this production was given to both Akira Kurosawa's 1954 "Seven Samurai" and John Sturges original 1960 "The Magnificent Seven".
Although the movie did well initially at the box office and the politically correct seven, seen above, had some traits of the characters in the original 1960 motion picture. Reviewers were mixed over the feature and if a remakes should have been done in the first place. Of course, should those three sequels have been made either?