THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)

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Christopher

I’ve seen this movie so many times now but it’s never become dull or uninteresting. The story in this film seems very textbook but I think that’s part of what makes it so great. We become acquainted with the main villain in the first scene of the film. We get to meet our main character in an exciting carriage ride which has us rooting for him from the very beginning. We meet our team and what makes them above average. And finally we get to see the battle unfold and who does and doesn’t make it to the end.
My favorite of the seven is hands down James Coburn’s character, Britt. To me he has the greatest setup of the seven.  He comes off cool when people he works with argue that he can’t do what he says he can: draw quicker with a knife than a pen. Once this is put to the test a man is dead and we know exactly who’s the perfect fit for the team!
I saw this many years before I saw Seven Samurai but finding that connection in high school was my first real exposure to Kurosawa. If that hadn’t happened I don’t know what I would of done if I didn’t have Ikiru to watch a hundred times.
I doubt I would enjoy the remake anywhere close to this but I hope we watch it at some point.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

There wasn’t one main thing about westerns that made me dismiss them when I was younger. In fact, I remember watching Stagecoach sometime in elementary school and liking it. But I hated John Wayne. When I first knew he existed I didn’t know why he was famous; when I found out he was an actor I felt like I got the joke – ohhhh right, that guy’s a HORRIBLE actor, ha ha! The fact that John Wayne seemed to be the epitome of a western actor did not bode well to me. Then I saw The Searchers in a summer camp film class the summer after 9th grade and my fears were confirmed: westerns are long, westerns are boring, women are property in westerns, and John Wayne sucks. That was the last time I wasted time on a western for a while.

In my defense, it would have helped to see cool westerns with cool guys like For A Few Dollars More or The Magnificent Seven. And in fact, The Magnificent Seven combines a lot of movie tropes that I’ve always loved: a good guy posse, male friendships, meeting each member of the posse individually, an unexpectedly bad bad guy, and sexy cowboys.

I admit I sort of laughed when I found out Eli Wallach was the bad guy. Eli Wallach? Of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly AND Keeping the Faith? Right, okay. He even acts jolly! Until he murders a man in front of his whole town for no reason. With that he enters different bad guy territory: an unexpectedly bad bad guy, the scariest kind. Wallach and his posse are terrorizing a Mexican village, pillaging it whenever they need supplies. The men of the town decide to hire guns to defend themselves. Then they meet Chris (Yul Brynner), a very casually sexy cowboy who tells them their money will go further if they hire gunmen instead of buy guns. Chris looks around at the villagers, sees their level of attractiveness, and realizes he must be the one to recruit the gunmen.

It doesn’t happen exactly like that but because of one of my favorite parts of the movie, he may as well have. Along with the main 7 and the bad guys, there are villages and posses full of extras throughout the movie. In any of these larger scenes with lots of characters, any of the 7 stick out like a sore thumb. Why? Because they are gorgeous and no one else is. It’s not even a case of the extras being made to look dirty or grimy; it’s straight up attractiveness. The 7 all look like movie stars, and even though there are ranks of attractiveness within the 7, all of the extras just look like normal people. The contrast was so stark I made up a subplot that included sexy radar that all of the 7 must have had in order to find each other.

Chris, who looks like this:

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picks up Vin, played by Steve McQueen, who looks like this:

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Together they gather Harry Luck (Brad Dexter), who looks like this:

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Bernardo O’Reilly (Charles Bronson), who, no joke, looks like THIS:

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Britt (James Coburn), who looks like this (cute butt added for good measure):

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And Lee (Robert Vaughn), who looks like this:

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The six men start to get followed around by Chico, a local villager played by the hilariously German-named Horst Buchholz, and they have no choice but to take him along because he looks like this:

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Anyway, each of the 7 has a niche skill that they bring to the good guy posse. I expected there to be one big, final showdown between the 7 and Wallach and his posse, which the 7 would win, which made me think I sort of knew how the whole thing was going to end. There is a big showdown, which the 7 win, but it doesn’t end there. Chico infiltrates the bad posse and finds out that they’re coming back, and soon, because they’re out of food. The 7 ride out to meet the posse and deal with them there, but find the camp abandoned. When they come back to the village they find it overtaken by the bad posse. Knowing they’ve won, the bad posse lets the 7 go, figuring the 7 have just found out that this village isn’t worth dying for. After the bad posse leads the 7 out of the village and gives them back their guns, Britt is immediately ready to go back, pissed off that they were bested. Everyone but Harry agrees to go back and fight; Harry rides off on his own just to come back to the village in the nick of time to save Chris from being shot. In the end, Chris shoots Wallach and all but he, Vin, and Chico of the 7 are killed trying to save the village. The 7 technically win, but as Chris says in the last lines, “We lost. We’ll always lose.”

So, The Magnificent Seven was not only not boring but it was actually cool and full of eye candy in tight jeans. I’m annoyed with myself for not watching this sooner, but I also just blame John Wayne. If this dude was instead the ultimate face in cowboy badassery:

31257629_1300x1733 instead of the lumbering, eternally-an-old-man-who-can’t-act John Wayne, I probably would have wanted to watch this a lot sooner.

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PLEIN SOLEIL (PURPLE NOON) [1960]

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Christopher

I was expecting this movie to be long, slow and extremely boring. That was not at all the case. I had never really known the story of Tom Ripley and I was very pleased with how insane it is. For some reason I thought there was magic involved? Not quite sure why I thought that.

This film is pretty intense, I’m sure the character relationships would make a bit more sense if I read the book but it kind of added to the creepiness of Tom Ripley. I know this movie had a different ending than the book and the Matt Damon movie which is kind of disappointing. I think this movie is good but it definitely wasn’t great. I’ll have to see what I think of it after we watch The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I always wanted to see Purple Noon because A.) I went through a slightly odd obsession with both the book and 1999 film version of The Talented Mr. Ripley in 5th grade and B.) ALAIN DELON. It was definitely interesting to finally watch it.

The biggest, most obvious difference between Purple Noon and the book would be the ending. I was disappointed that Purple Noon‘s Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) got caught at the very end of the movie, because Tom Ripley doesn’t ever come as close to getting caught in the book. It just would have been a lot cooler and creepier, I think, if Purple Noon ended about five minutes earlier than it did, with Tom Ripley quietly gloating to himself.

But what really surprised be was Alain Delon as Tom Ripley. This whole time I thought Alain Delon played Dickie Greenleaf (here called Philippe), because Greenleaf is supposed to be a handsome playboy. It never occurred to me that he would play Tom Ripley, a character who’s supposed to be unsure of himself and weird. But despite Alain Delon looking more like Greenleaf than Ripley, he really was excellent in the role. He might be good looking, but he can be scary.

Purple Noon is definitely worth seeing, whether you’re familiar with the source material or not. If nothing else, you get to look at Alain Delon for 2 hours.

PSYCHO (1960)

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Elizabeth

I was lucky enough when I first saw Psycho that I didn’t know the ending (I was maybe 9 or so). I didn’t even know much about it at all. I think it’s next to impossible for an adult to see this for the first time now and not know all about it, but it’s still really cool to see it that way.

Psycho might be the best example of shifting the plot completely after the movie’s already started. Usually I hate this because it’s usually done so badly, and because of a lack of direction rather than a conscious choice. But this is Hitchock, so he knew what he was doing. It goes from a thriller about a woman stealing $40,000 so she can pay off her boyfriend’s debts and be with him to a horror movie about a psychotic killer. And it does so pretty beautifully and seamlessly.

Obviously, Anthony Perkins is the real star here. He was 28 when this was made and he definitely looks like someone who is easily in his early to mid 20’s. He’s lanky and boyishly good-looking, making him all the more trustworthy. But one of the things so great about his performance is how when he’s alone, he acts with much more confidence than when he’s around other people, showing just how closed off he is. It’s really subtle, and Janet Leigh plays her role subtly, too. There’s a lot of shots of just her face driving along with voiceovers of her thoughts. When you think about it, it really does take a lot of skill to have the camera on your face that much without overacting or being boring.

The one thing that I don’t like about Psycho is the recap at the end done by the psychiatrist who evaluates Norman Bates. He comes out and tells the rest of the cast Bates’ whole backstory and why he dresses up as his mother and kills people. Maybe things were different in 1960, but I truly think the audience would have completely understood everything that happened without this added part. The very end scene is a cop bringing Bates a blanket, and then an internal monologue done by Bates. I really think it would have been more effective to cut out the psychiatrist’s speech and go straight to Bates. But, then again . . . I’m no Hitchcock.

Christopher

It’s pretty sad that it took me this long to see this movie. I’m not sure why I never got around to it but I’m glad I finally did. I think the closest I ever got to this movie was going to Universal Studios. I think there is some kind of Psycho ride or walkthrough or something? Anyway, this movie was so scary! It’s easily up there in my favorite horror/thriller movies now. Everything about it works so well and is so horrifying. It also makes so much sense for the time, in my mind. It’s not like I lived back then but it makes so much more sense that this would happen at some tucked-away motel. The only thing about this movie that’s off is how they explain everything in the end. That was really unnecessary and pretty insulting to the audience. But maybe there is some story behind why that’s there.