A group of Mexican farmers, tired of being harassed by Eli Wallach and his cruel banditos, hire badass Yul Brynner to assemble a team of gunfighters (Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Charles Bronson among them) in this classic 1960 western adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. Returning to video in a much-needed letterboxed version, The Magnificent Seven, if nothing else, is proof that every widescreen movie should be released to video in this form. There are compositions here that just don't make sense in a truncated version, and sweeping vistas and shots that play like The Magnificent Four in the more common pan-and-scan version. As for the film itself, it holds up very well: Though lacking some of the depth of Kurosawa's version, it's a marvelous piece of entertainment with tense action complemented by charismatic performances from its stars. It's also a reminder, worth examining in the middle of the summer-movie season, that entertainment on a grand scale doesn't have to jettison good storytelling.
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