The Magnificent Seven: They should have picked Arnie and Sly!

In this supposed classic of cowmen and Indians, a group of farmers recruit 7 Hollywood superstars to help them out of a sticky situation. Why they didn’t call the police I don’t know, maybe they were corrupt or away on holiday. The farmers have been under attack by a roaming gang of hoodies, you see, the farmers have created a new style of potato which is more tasty than other types and have cowardly decided to keep them all to themselves. These roaming hoodies have taken it upon themselves to break in every season, steal as many spuds as possible and ride off to a nearby glade where they spend the next 2 months gorging themselves on their bounty, laughing, and listening to Bob Dylan. The farmers can’t stand it anymore, so they decide to go to the surrounding hamlets to recruit some Hollywood heavyweights who should be able to help defend their crops. As it was only 1960 however, their choices were limited- preferably they would have picked Bruce Lee, Arnie, Sly, Bruce Willis, Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and maybe Dolph Lundgren but of course none of them were born yet.

Eventually in typical action movie style they find their men and each one has an individual skill- Steve McQeeun can jump over fences on his bike, Yul Burner has a magic hat (when he takes it off he can pull any weapon or item from it), Charlie Brosnan can through rocks really far etc. They actually only find 6 people, but a local teen seeking adventure decides to tag along, and later falls in love with one of the farmers. We get to know each character, but not much of their lives are revealed- they should have included some lost style flashbacks. People say this adds mystique to the cowboys, but I think it’s just lazy storytelling. After a while, they come up with a plan- Murdock will hide in the bushes near the enemy camp and at nightfall will rush in screaming ‘I need a trash bag’! This will stir the hoodies into a confused and angry state and they give chase. Murdock hides round the corner with the farmer he has fallen in love with, and the hoodies enter the camp and find they are in an ambush. The music soars, and the big battle scene begins. Most of the action is on horseback so it isn’t as fast paced as today’s speedboat movies, but it’s still OK.

I won’t spoil the ending, but some of the good guys are killed and the plan comes together. The most interesting part is that the director blurs the line between good and evil- the bad guys just want their fill of potatoes and while I cannot condone thievery, if the farmers had just struck up a deal with a local supermarket they could have become millionaires and bought speedboats, while the hoodies would have had all the potatoes they want at a reasonable price. In fact, the sequels to this film deal with an evil business man trying to burn the farmers out of their barns because they won’t hand over their recipe. There is even the suggestion that our heroes may well have once been hoodies, or even recovering potato addicts. We never find out.

I think this film is actually a remake of an even older black and white one which was set in the time of Knights, Maidens, and Dragons. If they’d kept that setting but updated the colour it could have been a great show. I can’t honestly find too much to fault this- it’s just not my glass of coke. There are lots of slow parts, a silly love story, and to be honest at times I forgot who was the goody and who was the baddie. It’s one of the only ancient films I can watch, but I’ve watched it once and won’t again. It wasn’t a waste of two hours, but it might be a waste of four.

Favourite bit: Steve and Yul Bruneul’s famous exchange: ‘After awhile you can call bartenders and potato dealers by their first name – Derek! Rooms you’ve rented – five hundred! Meals you eat in McDonalds- a thousand! Home – none! Wife – none! Speedboats… none! Suppose I left anything out?’ ‘Yeah. Places you’ve been tied down in – 17. Toilets you’ve soiled- a few million. People who laugh at your hat- a hundred and thirty seven.’