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Thursday, 21 April 2016


There is a new film coming soon. The Magnificent Seven stars Denzel Washington. Here's the trailer:

I have watched Seven Samurai (1954), starring Toshiro Mifune, a few times over the years and, dozens of times more, the 1960 John Sturges remake, The Magnificent Seven, starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz, not forgetting Eli Wallach as Calvera. It is a brilliant film with several of the actors in the early stages of pretty good onward careers. As I watch it, I can lip-synch most of the script, it is that familiar to me. Elmer Bernstein's score is, of course, top class. 

After The Magnificent Seven (1960), there were three sequels:
Return of the Seven (1966) with Brynner and Robert Fuller;
Guns of the Magnificent Seven with George Kennedy
The Magnificent Seven Ride! with Lee Van Cleef

Each film milks the plot of seven gunslingers thrown together to take on a seemingly impossible challenge, basically saving people from some bad guys. The three sequels are pretty poor in comparison to the original.

During 1998 - 2000, there was a 22-episode TV series starring Michael Biehn and Eric Close, with occasional guest star appearances by Robert Vaughn. It was a so-so attempt to stretch the idea even further but it does has some good things in it.

Now, someone has decided to have another go at reinventing the idea for today's audience. I'm 62 and old school. I can see that younger audiences might appreciate this new film because they do not carry the baggage of affection and nostalgia but people of my generation who love the Sturges film might well gasp as I did when I watched the trailer. I will watch the film but I'm not looking forward to it.

There is a problem with remakes. The recent Lone Ranger effort was a mess, as was The Man From C.L.U.N.K.L.E. The A-Team starring Liam Neeson was rubbish and Dad's Army left a lot to be desired. In fact, I'm trying to think of a successful TV to film remake that worked for me. The Fugitive (1993) with Harrison Ford comes to mind. A couple of years ago, there were plans to remake The Rockford Files for television starring Dermot Mulroney but, thankfully, that idea was canned after a pilot. As I write, I remember Denzel Washington's The Equalizer, another example of attaching a familiar title to a thinly related idea.

I really have no problems with movie companies having a go at remaking things. It is part of the creative agenda to try. Good ideas deserve to be reproduced. But, when push comes to shove, it's the end result that counts. Who knows, I might love this new version. But if I don't, rather like Yul Brynner's Chris said to Eli Wallach's Calvera: "Ride on."

If they ever try to remake "The Searchers", adios.

Happy trails.

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