Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1960. The Mirisch Company, Alpha Productions, Alpha. Screenplay by William Roberts, based on the screenplay Shichinin No Samurai by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni. Cinematography by Charles Lang. Produced by John Sturges. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Production Design by Edward Fitzgerald. Film Editing by Ferris Webster. Academy Awards 1960.
Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is remade for the Hollywood screen as the quintessential western, easily adapted thanks to Kurosawa’s own love of the classic American genre. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and a host of others are gathered up to help protect a tiny Mexican village from marauders (led by Eli Wallach) who terrorize its inhabitants and steal their food, leaving the people in even worse abject poverty than nature has already primed them for. John Sturges keeps it quicker than Kurosawa did, a mere 130 minutes versus the Japanese master’s three-and-a-half hour epic, and as a result the film isn’t as much of a character piece as its predecessor. Lack of comparative depth aside, however, it does feature some wonderfully manly performances, is shot with all the glorious vistas necessary for a great western, and moves along at a chomping good pace. You won’t even mind that for some reason, a good number of the cast have European accents (Horst Buchholz makes his starring debut and, despite the prestige of the picture, never really went anywhere with it).