The Magnificent Seven is a 1960 American western film directed by John Sturges. It is a western-style remake based on Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. The film stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz who play a group of seven American gunmen who are hired to protect a small agricultural village in Mexico from a group of marauding Mexican bandits. The film's musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein.
A Mexican village is periodically raided by bandits led by Calvera (Eli Wallach). As he and his men rode away from their latest visit Calvera had promised to return for more booty and loot the village again.
Desperate to prevent this the leaders of the village travel to a town just inside the American border to buy weapons with which to defend themselves. While there they approach a veteran gunslinger Chris (Yul Brynner). He suggests that they hire more gunfighters for their defense instead stating that such men would be cheaper than guns and ammunition. They ask him to lead them, but Chris turns this down telling them that a single man is not enough. They keep asking him and then he finally agrees. Chris recruits six other fighting men, even though the pay offered is not very much.
First to answer the call is the hotheaded inexperienced Chico (Horst Buchholz), but he is rejected. Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), an old friend of Chris, joins because he believes Chris is looking for treasure. Vin (Steve McQueen) signs on after going broke from gambling. Other recruits include Bernardo O'Reilly (Charles Bronson), a gunfighter of Irish-Mexican heritage who is also broke cowpuncher Britt (James Coburn), fast and deadly with his switchblade and Lee (Robert Vaughn), who is on the run and needs someplace to lie low until things cool down. Chico trails the group as they ride south and is eventually allowed to join them.
Even with seven the group knows they will be vastly outnumbered by the bandits. However their expectation is that once the bandits know they will have to fight they will decide to move on to some other unprotected village, rather than bother with an all-out battle. Upon reaching the village the group begins training the residents. As they work together the gunmen and villagers begin to bond. The gunfighters enjoy a feast prepared by some of the women, but they realize that the villagers themselves are starving so that the gunfighters will have enough to eat. They then stop eating and share the food with the village children. Chico finds a woman to whom he is attracted, Petra (Rosenda Monteros) and Bernardo befriends the children of the village although he can never imagine himself as one of the villagers.  Although these paternal tendencies will have fatal consequences the villagers come to respect and even admire him.  Lee meanwhile struggles with nightmares and fears the loss of his skills.
Calvera comes back and is disappointed to find the villagers have hired gunmen. After a brief exchange the bandits are chased away. Later Chico, who is Mexican and thus blends in infiltrates the bandits' camp and returns with the news that Calvera and his men will not simply be moving on as had been expected. They are planning to return in full force as the bandits are also broke and starving and need the crops from the village to survive.
The seven debate whether they should leave. Not having expected a full-scale war some of the seven, as well as some of the villagers are in favor of the group's departure, but Chris adamantly insists that they will stay. They decide to make a surprise raid on the bandit camp but find it empty. Upon return to the village they are captured by Calvera's men who have been let into the village by those villagers fearful of the impending fight. Calvera spares the gunfighters' lives because he believes that they have learned that the farmers are not worth fighting for and because he fears American reprisals if they are killed.
Calvera has them escorted out of town and then contemptuously returns their guns and gunbelts.
Despite the odds against them and despite their betrayal by the villagers all of Chris's group except Harry decide to return and finish the job the next morning. (Harry refuses to go back and face what he believes is certain death against such unfavorable odds). During the ensuing battle Harry returns in the nick of time to rescue Chris from certain death but is shot and fatally wounded. Bernardo is shot and killed protecting children he had befriended; Lee overcomes his fear of death and kills several men before he is shot dead. Britt is also slain but not before sticking his switchblade into the ground where he falls. Seeing the gunmen's bravery the villagers overcome their own fear grab whatever they can as weapons and join the battle. The bandits are routed and Calvera is shot by Chris. Puzzled he asks why a man like Chris came back but dies without an answer. The Old Man in village is saying goodbye to them and claims: "You're like the wind — blowing over the land and ... passing on ... ¡Vayan con Dios!" As the three survivors leave, Chico decides to stay with Petra. Chris and Vin ride away, pausing briefly at the graves of their fallen comrades. Chris observes, "The Old Man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We'll always lose."
- Yul Brynner as Chris Adams
- Eli Wallach as Calvera
- Steve McQueen as Vin
- Horst Buchholz as Chico
- Charles Bronson as Bernardo O'Reilly
- Robert Vaughn as Lee
- Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
- James Coburn as Britt
- Vladimir Sokoloff as The Old Man
- Jorge Martínez de Hoyos as Hilario
- Rosenda Monteros as Petra
- Whit Bissell as Chamlee the Undertaker
- Rico Alaniz as Sotero
- Natividad Vacío as Miguel
- Robert J. Wilke as Wallace
- Val Avery as Henry the Corset Salesman
- Bing Russell as Robert, Henry's Traveling Companion
Producer Lou Morheim originally bought the rights to Seven Samurai with plans to have Anthony Quinn as lead; according to Variety Brynner "got the rights away from Quinn" and brought Sturges into the project as director based on the latter's work on Gunfight at O.K. Corral. In spite of Morheim's involvement Sturges "insisted on sole producer credit" both Morheim and Quinn brought suit over the events with Morheim settling for an associate producer credit and Quinn denied the $630,000 in damages he sought.
Script credit was also a subject of contention. Walter Bernstein a blacklisted scriptwriter was commissioned by Morheim to produce the first draft "faithfully" adapted from the original script written by Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni and Akira Kurosawa; when Mirisch and Brynner took over the production they brought on Walter Newman whose version "is largely what's on screen." When Newman wasn't available to be on-site during the film's principal photography in Mexico, William Roberts was hired in part to make changes required by Mexican censors. When Roberts asked the Writers Guild of America for a co-credit Newman asked that his name be removed from the credits.
Filming began on March 1, 1960, on location in Mexico, where both the village and the U.S. border town were built for the film. The first scene shot was the first part of the six gunfighter's journey to the Mexican village prior to Chico being brought into the group.
The film was shot in Panavision; an anamorphic format.
Sequels, remakes and adaptationsEdit
The film's success inspired three sequels:
None of these were as successful as the original film. The film also inspired a television series, The Magnificent Seven, which ran from 1998 to 2000.
The plot of The Magnificent Seven directly inspired the 1980 sci-fi film Battle Beyond the Stars which included actor Robert Vaughn as one of the seven mercenaries hired to save a farming planet from alien marauders.
The 1986 comedy Three Amigos directly parodies many aspects of The Magnificent Seven, from the hiring of a team of Americans to defend a small Mexican village to the training of the villagers by the mercenaries to the megalomaniacal over-the-top character of the Mexican gang leader.
The plot of Stephen King's 2003 novel Wolves of the Calla is loosely based on The Magnificant Seven. In the story, gunslinger Roland Deschain and his allies defend a small village from a raiding party that steals children once a generation. The name of the village "Calla Bryn Sturgis" is a nod to John Sturges, and the similarity leads to Roland's allies from 20th century New York realizing that they are taking part in a similar story.