Hollywood is remaking The Magnificent Seven, one of my favorite westerns. (Darn, I wished they had asked. I could have sold them material for a great, new western script.) The original film was made in 1960 and broke new ground for Westerns. The loner, with or without a sidekick, was nowhere to be found. Instead, an ensemble cast kicked up so much dust with twenty eight hoofs that filming became difficult at times. The Magnificent Seven introduced antihero gangs to theatrical westerns. Previously there were western antiheros, notably Shane and Hondo, but these were deeply flawed characters rather than outright bad guys called upon to do good. Nine years later, The Wild Bunch seems to have taken most of the credit for elevating antiheroes who flock together.
The Magnificent Seven is a buddy story which heavily relies on the chemistry of the characters. This played out exceptionally well in the original and hopefully will work for the remake as well. Of course, everything was not always copacetic on the sets of the original film. Throughout the entire movie, Yule Brynner never removed his hat to expose his bald head. Steve McQueen was such a notorious scene stealer that he exasperated Brynner, who took him aside and threatened to remove his hat if McQueen upstaged him again. Legend has it that McQueen behaved himself for the remainder of the shoot.
The new Magnificent Seven is due in 2016, directed by Antoine Fuqua, and staring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Luke Grimes, Wagner Moura, Haley Bennett, Matt Bomer, and Peter Sarsgaard. Let’s hope it’s as good as the first one.