The Magnificent Seven
(1960), one of the greatest Westerns, finally makes its DVD appearance in a fascinating special edition full of bonus material. (Return of the Magnificent Seven
(1966) has also been released but with no extras.) From its first appearance in 1960, The Magnificent Seven
has been both an audience and critical favorite, one of that year's highest grossing films and a popular Western title ever since. A remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai
(1954), the film shows a Mexican village continually terrorized by bandits. In desperation the villagers enlist seven American misfits for help but what can seven men do against a hundred? The Magnificent Seven
fleshes out this story with a wonderful ensemble cast who were equally at home with the drama as well as the stunts and gun fighting. Yul Brynner was already familiar at the time but actors just starting to make a lasting impression on audiences were Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Eli Wallach. The score by Elmer Bernstein was equally unforgettable and was later used in commercials. A guitar instrumental version even cracked the Top 40 on the radio.
The special edition DVD does justice to this film. The wide spaces necessary to follow the action are well presented in anamorphic letterbox. There's a wealth of background information in the audio commentary by Eli Wallach, James Coburn and producer Walter Mirisch. You can also view a new documentary about the making of the film, the original trailer and a gallery of still photos. The sound is 5.1 Dolby Digital with options for closed captioning, subtitles (French and Spanish) or alternate audio tracks (also French and Spanish).