Film / The Magnificent Seven

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They fought like seven hundred!

Note: This page covers the film. For the ensemble/plot trope, see The Magnificent Seven Samurai.

Vin: I guess right about now you kinda wish you'd given your crops to Calvera, huh?
Hilario: Yes. And no. Both at the same time. Yes, when I think of what he might do. No, when I remember the feeling in my chest this morning as I saw him running away — from us. That's a feeling worth dying for. Have you ever... felt something like that?
Vin: Not for a long, long time. I, uh, I envy you.

An epic 1960 Western translation of Seven Samurai, directed by John Sturges and featuring an All-Star Cast including Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, and James Coburn.

Mexican villagers plagued by a band of bandits send a few of their number to the border to buy guns so they can defend themselves. They end up hiring seven gunmen to defend the village instead.

Action-packed and featuring an unforgettable music score by Elmer Bernstein, The Magnificent Seven has has so much testosterone that a girl risks getting pregnant just by watching it. Numerous film historians call it one of the last great "classical" Westerns (i.e., Westerns prior to the rise of the Spaghetti Western subgenre).

Followed by several sequel films and a 1998-2000 TV series.

Return of the Seven, the first sequel, has the village from the first film be raided by marauders who carry off fifty men into the desert, one of them being Chico, who chose to return and settle down after the first film. Chico's wife goes to the other survivors of the first Band of Seven, Chris and Vin, who recruit five new members to save Chico and the other villages from a mad rancher who is using them as slave labor.

Guns of the Magnificent Seven, the second sequel, has a Mexican revolutionary (and a cousin of one of the villages from one of the previous films) seek out and hire Chris to form a third iteration of the Band of Seven to overthrow a sadistic militarist.

The Magnificent Seven Ride, the final sequel, has Chris, now married and a US Marshal, be recruited by an old friend of his turned Bounty Hunter to form a new Band of Seven to defeat the bandit lord De Toro.

The series, meanwhile, has no connection to the film quadrilogy at all.

A remake of the first film was released in September 2016, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke heading the cast.


Examples of tropes included:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Britt kills a bandit fleeing on horseback with a single pistol shot from a longish distance. When Chico calls it the best shot he's ever seen, Britt calls it the worst - he had aimed for the horse, because he wanted to take one of the bandits alive and question him about the strength of the bandit group.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Vin and Hilario have the page quote conversation in the middle of a firefight. The scene where Lee wakes from a nightmare and talks about losing his nerve counts, too.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Akira Kurosawa loved the film so much that he gave director John Sturges a samurai sword.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Given that the bandits' leader is given zero characterization and five minutes of screen time in Seven Samurai, Calvera received one of these in spades.
    • Not to mention, a single Japanese source film ended up being adapted into four American films, so there's a lot of expansion going on after what originally marked the end of the story.
  • Affably Evil: Calvera qualifies as either this or Faux Affably Evil. Either way, he's too much fun to watch. During the making of the film, Yul Brynner (Chris) remarked that Eli Wallach was too benevolent.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Calvera's death is surprisingly poignant. As he sits slumped against a wooden rail, mortally wounded, he desperately tries to understand why the seven returned to save the village.
  • And Starring: "And introducing Horst Buchholz" appears at the very end of the cast, separate from his six Magnificent co-stars and Eli Wallach. This wasn't Buccholz's first movie role, but it was the first time American audiences got a good look at him.
  • Anyone Can Die: What did you expect from a western based on a film by Akira Kurosawa?
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Seven wonder why the bandits keep attacking them instead of going off to find easier pickings. They learn that the bandits haven't eaten in days and if they don't get the village's food they will starve.
  • Avengers Assemble: Chris ends up delivering The Call.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Chico, like his partial counterpart Kikuchiyo in the original.
  • Badass Boast: "We deal in lead, friend."
    Chris: No enemies?
    Lee: Alive...
    • The latter is subverted in a later scene with Lee, who bitterly echoes the line before admitting that he's lost count of his enemies.
  • Bald of Awesome: While any role Yul Brynner has played qualifies for this trope, his performance in this film stands out the most.
  • Bandito: Calvera and his gang certainly qualify.
  • Batman Cold Open: The film does a Western variation (escorting a dead Indian to a cemetery whilst under fire) of the Batman Cold Open from Kurosawa's original. It both establishes Chris and Vin's creds as awesome gunslingers and solidifies their respect for each other.
  • Beard of Evil: Calvera.
  • Big Bad: Calvera, leader of a band of rapacious and desperate bandits.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The seven killed all of the bandits, but four of the seven also died. One of the survivors gives up on adventure, while the other two ride off to a future without prospects.
    The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We'll always lose.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Chris does this to two of the gunmen preventing him and Vin taking the dead Indian to the cemetery. It's played with a bit more realism than many examples: the men thus disarmed are visibly injured and bleeding afterwards.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Chico really hates farmers.
    • The film lifted this directly from Seven Samurai: the seventh samurai, Kikuchiyo, tries hard to become a samurai and constantly boasts and showing off — before he tearfully admits that he came from a family of selfish farmers.
  • Brownface: The Polish-American Jewish Eli Wallach plays a Mexican bandit. And not for the last time, either.
  • Call to Agriculture: Chico, in spite of explicitly stating in an earlier scene that he had no intention of settling down, does exactly this at the end.
  • Canon Foreigner: Of all the characters, Lee is the only one who isn't directly adapted from Seven Samurai (instead filling the space left open by combining Kikuchiyo and Katsushiro into Chico). His characterization as a fighter who's lost his nerve would have been unbecoming of any samurai.
    • Harry's natural counterpart is Gorobei, yet shares none of his characterisation.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Lee scrambles across the room in a panic when he awakens from a nightmare.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: This happens a couple of times during the Avengers Assemble section, but the best example of the trope happens when Harry returns for the Final Battle.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Britt's knife-throwing subverts this trope; in the final gunfight, he draws the blade, but gets killed before he can throw it.
  • Clothing Damage: Chico's hat gets a whole shot through it. Britt gives a sombrero to replace it, which comes in handy when infiltrating Calvera's camp.
  • Composite Character: Chico was written as a combination of Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo from the original film.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Chris wears rich, dark-colored clothing but is a hero.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vin is full of extremely deadpan snark. O'Reilly is also an example, somewhat less deadpan:
    Chris: Morning. I'm a friend of Harry Luck's. He tells me you're broke.
    O'Reilly: [chopping wood] Nah. I'm doing this because I'm an eccentric millionaire.
  • Debut Queue: As in the original film, the seven are introduced one scene at a time.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: During their first confrontation, Chris tells Calvera to ride on. Calvera doesn't take it well.
  • Dream Team: The seven consist of six of the best gunmen around and one rookie.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Chico successfully infiltrates Calvera's camp in a sombrero.
  • Due to the Dead: Chris's initiative to deliver Old Sam to Boot Hill to be buried against all odds is his Establishing Character Moment.
  • Dwindling Party: As in the original, four of the seven die. Whereas in the original, the samurai were killed as the story progressed, here, they all die in the climax.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Vin and Chris volunteer to drive a hearse containing an Indian up to Boot Hill despite the protests of the townspeople.
    • Britt besting a gunmen with a knife. Twice.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Calvera is appalled at how little religion people have. Didn't stop him from robbing a church, though.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: How the seven are introduced.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The seven defended a poor Mexican village with their lives. Why?
  • Evil Is Hammy: Calvera owns every scene he's in with relish.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: O'Reilly was once a highly-paid Bounty Hunter, but now works chopping wood for his breakfast so he's willing to accept the measly pay the villagers are offering.
    "Twenty dollars? Right now, that's a lot."
  • Fanfare: A great one by Elmer Bernstein.
  • Fastest Gun in the West: Britt is fast with both guns and knives. Early in the movie, he shows just how fast he is by using a thrown knife to kill an opponent who has a gun.
  • Foreign Remake: It was adapted from Seven Samurai, and made with Akira Kurasawa's blessing.
  • Friend to All Children: Bernardo.
  • Friendly Sniper: O'Reilly is on sniping duties on the rooftops.
  • Girly Run: If you look closely, you'll notice that Calvera runs like this.
  • The Gunslinger: The film takes place in the Wild West; of course it has some of these.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Chico. The rest of the group tries to dissuade him from going along with them, since they believe that his pride is only going to get himself killed.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen:
    • O'Reilly was a well-paid Bounty Hunter; now he has to chop wood for a living, so even the measly pay the villagers are offering is a fortune.
    • Lee trying to catch flies in his hand. "There was a time I could have got all three."
  • I Choose to Stay: In the end, Chico decides to abandon his ambitions of becoming a gunfighter and settles down in the village.
  • I Gave My Word
    Harry: Well, there comes a time to turn Mother's picture to the wall and get out. The village will be no worse off than it was before we came.
    Chris: You forget one thing. We took a contract.
    Vin: Not the kind any court would enforce.
    Chris: That's just the kind you've got to keep.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills
    • The film plays it straight in some instances: several characters make shots on the run, shoot guns out of hands, and make otherwise improbable shots. It doesn't do this as badly as other Westerns from the same era, though.
    • The film averts this, too: Britt — acknowledged as one of the best gunmen of the group — takes several seconds to line up a pistol shot from a longish distance, and he still claims to have missed his intended target (see Accidental Aiming Skills above).
  • Instant Fan Club: Bernardo gets one of these, though it doesn't do him much good.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Played with. Britt shoots a bandit off his horse at long range. After Chico compliments him, he demurs: "I was aiming for the horse."
    • In the big fight scenes, however, there are several instances of horses falling down from being shot, or being dragged down. They appear to be well-trained stunt animals.
  • Irony: Lee is a wartime deserter "hiding in the middle of a battlefield".
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Discussed:
    Calvera: "What I don't understand is why a man like you took the job in the first place, hmm? Why, huh?"
    Chris: "I wonder myself".
    Calvera: "No, come on, come on, tell me why".
    Vin: "It's like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, "Why?""
    Calvera: "And?"
    Vin: "He said, "It seemed to be a good idea at the time.""
  • Jerkass: Wallace, the abrasive, bragging Sore Loser who tries to prove that he's faster than Britt. Thankfully, Britt puts him in his place.
  • Knife Nut: Britt uses a throwing knife in a gunfight — and wins.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: This film serves as the co-Trope Namer.
  • Lawful Good: Chris doesn't take all that much convincing to help out an improverished Mexican village with their bandit problem. Even when the going gets tough, he never once considers abandoning them, despite the fact that the pay for the job is rather poor (twenty dollars plus room and board) and he makes it clear that, when he promised to protect those farmers, he meant it.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Chico lacks the patience of his more seasoned comrades, running into a shoot-out and nearly getting his head blown off and attempting to pistol-whip Calvera. In the latter case, Chris stops him from getting himself killed then and there.
  • Let Them Die Happy: As Harry dies, he tells Chris that he'd "hate to die a sucker" and asks one more time what the big secret was, prompting Chris to assure him that they were fighting for "Gold. Sacks of it."
  • Meaningful Name: Chico means "Kid" in Spanish.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 3, because some small amounts of blood are shown during some of the acts of violence. There's even a relatively early blood squib on Bernardo O'Reilly during the final shootout.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Bernardo O'Reilly: "Irish on one side, Mexican on the other, and me in the middle."
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Who made up the Magnificent Seven? Six actors who became major stars — and Brad Dexter. (Horst Buchholz had a huge career in Germany.)
  • Naïve Newcomer: Chico.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Britt is challenged to a Duel to the Death by a Sore Loser of a speed contest, he effortlessly dispatches the gunslinger with a single lethal throw.. Subverted in the final battle. After running out of bullets Britt draws his knife, and is shot and killed before he can throw it.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Vin answers the question in Evil Cannot Comprehend Good above with a story about a man he witnessed jumping buck naked into a patch of cactus. "He said it seemed like a good idea at the time."
    • It's never explained why Lee was looking for the Johnson Brothers, although it's easy to hazard a guess.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Yul Brynner (Russian) and Horst Buchholz (German) both sport their natural accents; the film tries to Handwave this by making Brynner's character a Cajun and Buchholz's a Mexican.
  • The Notable Numeral: We'll give you one guess.
  • Only in It for the Money: Harry Luck is convinced that there has to be some kind of hidden profit motivating Chris and the others to take on such an apparently unprofitable job, and spends most of the film trying to find out what it is. He is, accordingly, the only one of the seven who decides to walk away after Sotero sells them out to Calvera, when it becomes clear that there is no profit to be had. Subverted when Harry returns during the final shootout, saving Chris at the cost of his own life.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Subverted rather well. Calvera lets the seven go by taking their weapons and riding them out of town. His justification? An old Mexican quote: "A thief who steals from another thief is pardoned for a hundred years." Of course, he assumed that they were just Hired Guns who'd skip town the moment they were paid... By the end of the film, Calvera finds his assumptions were very, very, wrong.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Calvera tries this by letting the Seven live: besides not expecting them to come back, he doesn't want their friends returning for revenge. But this winds up being a huge, ultimately fatal miscalculation on his part.
    Britt: No one throws me my own gun and says "Run" Nobody.
  • Profane Last Words: Two examples. After a group of young Mexican villagers say Bernardo's name as he dies from his wounds, he responds by saying, "That's damn right." The first casualty out of the Seven, Harry Luck, has this to say as he himself dies:
    Harry Luck: Well... I'll be damned. [dies]
    Chris Adams: Maybe you won't be.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The film lampshades this with the "only the farmers won" speech, just as the original film did.
  • Quick Draw: Chris uses this in his attempt to convince Chico to go home: he tells Chico to clap as fast as he can before casually drawing his gun between the closing hands and inviting Chico to match the feat.
  • The Quiet One: James Coburn's character, Britt, has eleven total lines of dialogue; Robert Vaughn's character, Lee, has sixteen total lines.
    • Britt's lines also tend to be short. In his introductory scene, he only speaks five words.
  • Rated M for Manly: Between Calvera and the titular seven, if you weaponized these levels of shear badassitude you could easily kill millions.
  • The Real Heroes: Bernardo tells the kids that hang around him that their father's are the real heroes since being a farmer and a dad means lots of hard work and responsibility. He says he's never had the courage to do that, which is why he's a gunslinger.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Lee, who had struggled with cowardice throughout the whole movie, dies five seconds after he saves a group of villagers. Harry dies when he saves a cornered Chris from certain death.
  • Rugged Scar: Invoked, then inverted. While looking for gunmen to hire, one farmer suggests one that has lots of scars on his face, thinking that scars are a sign of toughness. Another farmer replies that "The man for us is the one who GAVE him that face."
  • The Runt at the End: Chico tags along behind the other more experienced gunslingers on the ride to the Mexican village.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Annoyed with Chico, Vin and Chris sarcastically suggest that he go and ask Calvera his plans for the night. Chico does exactly that, infiltrating Calvera's camp and even speaking directly with Calvera under the cover of the particularly dim fire in the camp. Without being discovered as a spy, Chico slips away from Calvera's camp, returns to the village, and tells everyone the awful truth that Calvera's men are starving and have nowhere else to turn for food.
    • The children tell Bernardo if he dies there will always be fresh flowers on his grave, he replies "such a comfort". The sarcasm flies over the kids' heads.
  • Say My Name: Bernardo invokes this as he dies. Chris and Britt also both end the scene introducing Britt with it:
    Chris: Britt.
    Britt: Chris.
  • Sequel: Return of the Seven (1966), Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969), The Magnificent Seven Ride (1972). Save for Yul Brynner in Return, none of the original cast appear in any of these.
  • Setting Update: The film transplants a story set in feudal-era Japan based on a story from Bronze-Age Greece into the Wild West.
  • The Siege: The film's last fight follows the bandits' attempt to siege the village.
  • Smug Snake: Calvera is pompous and loves to hear himself talk.
  • South of the Border: All four films take place in Mexico.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The Village Elder, who died in Kurosawa's film, survives in this film. Chico, as a composite of Kikuchiyo (who died) and Katsushiro (who survived), makes for a half-example.
  • The Stoic: Pretty much every one of the seven — except Chico — falls under this trope; the other six have seen so much in their day that it takes a lot to unnerve them.
  • Super Fly Reflexes: Lee's sitting at a table wrestling with his personal demons. Three flies appear by his cup, his hand flashes out and...
    Lee: [sighs] "One... Time was when I would have got all three".
  • The Team Wannabe: Chico.
  • Token Romance: Chico and Petra.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The Trope Codifier for Western filmography.
  • Twilight of the Old West: A constant undertone throughout the film. Many of the Seven are facing the prospect of becoming has-beens without a purpose in the newly "civilized" West—and it's indicated that this is a major reason they accept the job: it makes them feel needed. (This parallel's Kurosawa's original film, where the samurai are ronin who are suffering the end of the feudal era of Japan.)
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: A small group of the villagers betray the Seven and allow Calvera into the village after they learn that Calvera cannot simply move on and raid another village, which was what they had hoped would happen when he discovered that the village had hired gunmen. The Seven understand their reasoning, even defending their actions when their children denounce them as cowards, and still return to save the village after Calvera released them far from the territory.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Bernardo's Instant Fanclub follows him everywhere and tries to help him in any way; they get him killed in the final battle when they distract him during a gunfight.
    • Earlier, Calvera is talking to Sotero about how they tried to rob a church, only to find nothing worth taking. A bandit watching nearby helpfully adds that they took what was there anyway. Calvera doesn't appreciate the remark very well.
  • Wall Slump: Lee's death falls under this trope.
  • Wasteland Elder: The Old Man is probably the ur-example for the Western.
  • The Western
  • What You Are in the Dark
    Harry: Come on, Lee. If they want to get killed, let 'em.
    Chris: Go ahead, Lee. You don't owe anything to anybody.
    Lee: Except to myself.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: The villagers hide their women because they're afraid the hired guns will rape them. Chris acknowledges that their fears are not entirely unjustified (not all gunslingers being as noble as the seven, after all) but opines that "you might have given us the benefit of the doubt."
  • Young Gun: Chico may be a young hot-head, but he proves to be both good with his gun and rather clever.


"The old man was right. We lost. We always lose."
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