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The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven (1960 poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Sturges
Produced by John Sturges
Screenplay by
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Charles Lang
Editing by Ferris Webster
  • The Mirisch Company
  • Alpha Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) October 12, 1960 (1960-10-12)
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Money made $9.75 million (rentals)

The Magnificent Seven is a 1960 American Western film directed by John Sturges. The screenplay, credited to William Roberts, is a remake – in an Old West-style – of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai (itself initially released in the United States as The Magnificent Seven). The ensemble cast includes Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, and Horst Buchholz as a group of seven gunfighters and Eli Wallach as their main antagonist. The seven title characters are hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a group of marauding bandits led by Wallach.

The film was released by United Artists on October 12, 1960. It was both a critical and commercial success and has been appraised as one of the greatest films of the Western genre. It spawned three sequels, a television series that aired from 1998 to 2000, and a 2016 film remake. Elmer Bernstein's film score was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score and is listed on the American Film Institute's list of the top 25 American film scores. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


A gang of bandits led by Calvera periodically raids a poor Mexican village for food and supplies. After the latest raid, during which Calvera kills a villager, the village leaders decide to fight back. They send three villagers carrying their few objects of value to try and barter for weapons.

In a town just inside the United States, the villagers find Chris, a veteran Cajun gunslinger, and approach him. Chris advises that they instead hire gunfighters to defend the village, as "men are cheaper than guns." At first agreeing only to help them recruit, Chris eventually leads the group.

Despite the meager pay, Chris finds five willing gunmen. They include Vin Tanner, a gunfighter gone broke from gambling; Chris' friend Harry Luck, who assumes Chris is hiding a much bigger reward for the work; the Irish Mexican Bernardo O'Reilly, who has fallen on hard times; Britt, an expert in both knife and gun who joins purely for the challenge involved; and the dapper, on-the-run gunman Lee, plagued by nightmares of fallen enemies and so haunted that he has lost his nerve for battle. On their way to the village, they are trailed by the hotheaded Chico, an aspiring gunfighter whose previous attempts to join Chris had been spurned. Impressed by his persistence, Chris allows him into the group.

Arriving at the village, they work with the villagers to build fortifications and train them in combat. They note the lack of women in the village until Chico stumbles upon Petra and discovers the women that had been hidden. The gunmen begin to bond with the villagers, and Petra pursues Chico. When Bernardo points out that the gunmen are being given the choice food, they share it with the village children.

Three of Calvera's men are dispatched to reconnoiter the village; due to a mistake by Chico, the seven are forced to kill all three. Some days later Calvera and his bandits arrive in force. The seven and the villagers kill eleven gang members and run the rest out of town. The villagers celebrate, believing Calvera will not return. However, Chico infiltrates Calvera's camp and learns that Calvera will return, as they are short on food. Some villagers fear reprisals and call for the gunfighters to leave. Even some of the seven waver, but Chris insists that they stay.

The seven ride out for a pre-emptive raid on Calvera's camp but find it abandoned. Returning to the village, they are captured by Calvera and his men, who have colluded with some of the villagers to sneak in and take control. Calvera spares the seven's lives, part believing they have been disillusioned by the betrayal, and part fearing reprisals from their friends across the border.

Preparing to depart, Chris and Vin admit they have become emotionally attached to the village. Bernardo likewise gets angry when the boys he befriended call their parents cowards. Chico declares that he hates the villagers; when Chris points out he grew up as a farmer as well, Chico angrily responds that it is men like Calvera and Chris who made the villagers what they are.

The gang escorts the seven gunmen from the village and returns their weapons. The seven debate their next move. All agree to return and fight, except Harry, who believes the effort is futile.

The gunmen infiltrate the village and a gunfight breaks out. Harry, who has had a change of heart, returns in time to save Chris's life but is himself fatally shot. Harry pleads to know what they were fighting for, and Chris lies about hidden gold to let Harry believe he died for a fortune; Harry smiles before dying. Lee finds the nerve to burst into a house where several villagers are being held, shooting their captors and releasing the prisoners to join the fight, but is gunned down as he leaves the house. Bernardo, shot protecting the boys he befriended, tells them as he dies to see how bravely their fathers fought. Britt dies after killing many bandits and exposing himself from cover. Chris shoots Calvera, who demands to know why he came back for the village. The remaining bandits flee.

After Chico decides to stay with Petra, Chris and Vin bid farewell to the village elder. The elder tells them that only the villagers have won, whereas the gunslingers are "like the wind, blowing over the land and passing on." As they pass the graves of their fallen comrades, Chris admits the elder was right.


The Seven

The Magnificent Seven cast publicity photo
Cast publicity photo of "The Seven". Left to right: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and James Coburn


  • Eli Wallach as Calvera, the bandit chief
  • Vladimir Sokoloff as the old man of the village
  • Jorge Martínez de Hoyos as Hilario
  • Rosenda Monteros as Petra
  • Rico Alaniz as Sotero
  • Pepe Hern as Tomás
  • Natividad Vacío as Salvador
  • Robert J. Wilke as Wallace
  • John A. Alonzo as Miguel
  • Roberto Contreras as Luis
  • Whit Bissell as Chamlee, the undertaker
  • Val Avery as Henry, the corset salesman
  • Bing Russell as Robert, Henry's traveling companion
  • Valentin de Vargas as Santos, a Calvera henchman
  • Joseph Ruskin as Flynn



Lou Morheim acquired rights to remake the film in the US for $2,500. He later signed a deal with Yul Brynner's production company, who bought the rights from Morheim for $10,000 up front plus $1,000 a week as a producer and 5% of the net profits. Anthony Quinn was lined up to star with Brynner as director but later Martin Ritt was appointed as director with Brynner starring.

Brynner approached producer Walter Mirisch with the idea of remaking Kurosawa's famous samurai film. However, once Mirisch had acquired the rights and finalized a deal with United Artists, Brynner was sued for breach of contract by Quinn, who claimed that he and Brynner had developed the concept together and had worked out many of the film's details before the two had a falling-out. Quinn ultimately lost his claim because there was nothing in writing.

The film's title comes from the initial American localized title of Seven Samurai, which was initially released under the title The Magnificent Seven in the United States in 1955.


Script credit was a subject of contention. Associate producer Morheim commissioned Walter Bernstein, a blacklisted scriptwriter, 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 onscreen." When Newman was unavailable to be onsite 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.


Sturges was eager to cast Steve McQueen in the picture, having just worked with him on the 1959 film Never So Few, but McQueen could not get a release from actor/producer Dick Powell, who controlled McQueen's hit TV series Wanted Dead or Alive. On the advice of his agent, McQueen, an experienced race car driver, staged a car accident and claimed that he could not work on his series because he had suffered a whiplash injury and had to wear a neck brace. During the interval required for his "recuperation", he was free to appear in The Magnificent Seven.

James Coburn was a great fan of the Japanese film Seven Samurai, having seen it 15 times, and was hired through the help of co-star and former classmate Robert Vaughn, after the role of the expert knifethrower had been rejected by actors Sterling Hayden and John Ireland.


The film was shot by cinematographer Charles Lang in a 35mm anamorphic format using Panavision lenses. Location shooting began on March 1, 1960, in Mexico, where both the village and the U.S. border town were built for the film. The location filming was in Cuernavaca, Durango, and Tepoztlán and at the Churubusco Studios. The first scenes were the first part of the six gunfighters' journey to the Mexican village prior to Chico being brought into the group (which director Sturges noted in later interviews as the moment he had cast "six prima donnas" and would need to keep tighter control of the actors than was usual).

During filming there was considerable tension between Brynner and McQueen, who was displeased at his character having only seven lines of dialogue in the original shooting script. (Sturges had told McQueen that he would "give him the camera".) To compensate, McQueen took numerous opportunities to upstage Brynner and draw attention to himself, including shielding his eyes with his hat, flipping a coin during one of Brynner's speeches, and rattling his shotgun shells. Brynner would often build up a little mound of earth to make himself look as tall as McQueen, only to have McQueen kick the dirt out of place when he passed by. When newspapers started reporting about a rivalry, Brynner issued a press statement saying, "I never feud with actors. I feud with studios."



The film's score is by Elmer Bernstein, with orchestrations by Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes. Along with the readily recognized main theme and effective support of the story line, the score also contains allusions to twentieth-century symphonic works, such as the reference to Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, second movement, in the tense quiet scene just before the shootout. The original soundtrack was not released at the time until reused and rerecorded by Bernstein for the soundtrack of Return of the Seven. Electric guitar cover versions by Al Caiola in the U.S. and John Barry in the U.K. were successful on the popular charts. A vocal theme not written by Bernstein was used in a trailer.

In 1994, James Sedares conducted a re-recording of the score performed by The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, which also included a suite from Bernstein's score for The Hallelujah Trail, issued by Koch Records; Bernstein himself conducted the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for a performance released by RCA in 1997, but the original film soundtrack was not released until the following year by Rykodisc. (Varèse Sarabande issued this album in 1996, and reissued it in 2004.)

  1. Main Title and Calvera (3:56)
  2. Council (3:14)
  3. Quest (1:00)
  4. Strange Funeral/After The Brawl (6:48)
  5. Vin's Luck (2:03)
  6. And Then There Were Two (1:45)
  7. Fiesta (1:11)
  8. Stalking (1:20)
  9. Worst Shot (3:02)
  10. The Journey (4:39)
  11. Toro (3:24)
  12. Training (1:27)
  13. Calvera's Return (2:37)
  14. Calvera Routed (1:49)
  15. Ambush (3:10)
  16. Petra's Declaration (2:30)
  17. Bernardo (3:33)
  18. Surprise (2:08)
  19. Defeat (3:26)
  20. Crossroads (4:47)
  21. Harry's Mistake (2:48)
  22. Calvera Killed (3:33)
  23. Finale (3:27)

At the 33rd Academy Awards, the score was nominated for Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, losing to Ernest Gold's score for Exodus. In 2005, the score for The Magnificent Seven was listed at No. 8 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 25 American film scores.

In other media

Bernstein's score has frequently been quoted in the media and popular culture. Starting in 1963, the theme was used in commercials in the U.S. for Marlboro cigarettes for many years. A similar-sounding (but different) tune was used for Victoria Bitter beer in Australia, as was a similar-sounding (but different) tune for the introduction to the National Geographic television show. The theme was included in a scene of the James Bond film Moonraker.

Other uses include in the 2004 documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11; in the 2005 film The Ringer; in the 2015 film Hardcore Henry; as entrance music for the British band James, as well as episodes of The Simpsons that had a "Western" theme (mainly in the episode titled "Dude, Where's My Ranch?"). The opening horn riff in Arthur Conley's 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music" is borrowed from the theme. Canadian band Kon Kan use the opening bars of the theme in their single "I Beg Your Pardon". Celtic Football Club (Glasgow, Scotland) used the theme music whenever Henrik Larsson scored a goal. The 2008 J-pop song "Ōgoe Diamond" by AKB48 also used part of the main theme.

The Cheers episode "Diane Chambers Day" (season 4, episode 22) revolves around the bar denizens being invited to watch The Magnificent Seven and ends with them singing an a cappella version of the theme.

The Mick Jones 1980s band Big Audio Dynamite covered the song as "Keep off the Grass" (although this cover was not officially released). In 1995, the KLF also did a drum and bass cover of the main title as "The Magnificent"; it was released under the group alias One World Orchestra on the charity compilation The Help Album.

In 1992, the main theme of The Magnificent Seven came into use on a section of the Disneyland Railroad at Disneyland Paris. Portions of the theme play as the train exits the Grand Canyon diorama tunnel behind Phantom Manor, enters Frontierland, and travels along the bank of the Rivers of the Far West.

The "Main Title" was used as an intro tune on many nights of Bruce Springsteen's 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour. The theme was played as the E Street Band entered the stage, adding to the dramatic atmosphere in the stadium.



The film opened on October 12, 1960, in a thousand theaters across the South and Southwest of the United States.

Other media


Three sequels were eventually made: Return of the Seven (1966), Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969), and The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972). Yul Brynner returned as Chris Adams for Return of the Seven, but was replaced in the sequels by George Kennedy and Lee Van Cleef. He was the only member of the cast to return for any of the sequels. None were as successful as the original film.

Television series

The film also inspired a television series, The Magnificent Seven, which ran from 1998 to 2000. Robert Vaughn was a recurring guest star, a judge who hires the seven to protect the town in which his widowed daughter-in-law and his grandson live.


In 1981, The Clash released a song, "The Magnificent Seven", the third single from their fourth album, Sandinista!, which references the title of the 1960 film.

Unofficial remake

The 1980 science fiction film Battle Beyond the Stars was a remake of The Magnificent Seven set in space. A group of mercenaries, including ones played by George Peppard (as a character known only as "Space Cowboy") and Robert Vaughn (playing essentially the same character as in The Magnificent Seven) defend farmers from space raiders on the planet Akir, home of the Akira (named after Seven Samurai director Akira Kurosawa).


The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the film with the same title, was released in 2016, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starred Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier and Peter Sarsgaard.

On April 14, 2023, it was announced that MGM is rebooting many of its film franchises, including a TV adaptation of The Magnificent Seven.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: The Magnificent Seven para niños

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