The team-of-heroes premise has been used in projects good, bad, and wacky.
The idea of the blockbuster sequel goes back several decades, it turns out. There were no less than three follow-up films after the original 1960 The Magnificent Seven, itself an adaptation, did well around the world. It’s safe to say that none was as inspired as the first. Hey, at least these movies were westerns. Other takes on Magnificent have ranged from sci-fi to gladiator-themed. It’s been spoofed by famous comedians. There was even a short-lived small-screen adaptation on network TV. Which of these Magnificent spinoffs have you seen?
Director Akira Kurosawa releases his three-plus-hour epic Seven Samurai. Two and a half years later, a cut-down version is released in the United States.
The Magnificent Seven, John Sturges’ western adaptation of Seven Samurai, hits U.S. theaters.
The first of three sequels, Return of the Seven, retains only Yul Brynner from the original cast. Robert Fuller takes over Steve McQueen’s role. The two are called back to the same town they saved in the original film because many of its men have been taken prisoner.
George Kennedy replaces Brynner as Chris Adams in Guns of the Magnificent Seven, which finds Adams and six others attempting a rescue of a Mexican revolutionary from an army prison.
Lee Van Cleef steps into the Chris Adams role in The Magnificent Seven Ride!, in which the now settled-down gunslinger is compelled by a crime against his own family to gather some men and once again stop the wrath of bandits.
In Battle Beyond the Stars, a sci-fi film starring original Magnificent Seven cast member Robert Vaughn, a group of fighters defends a planet against a tyrant. Its score is by James Horner, the award-winning composer who wrote music for the new remake of The Magnificent Seven before his untimely death in a private plane crash last year.
Muscleman Lou Ferrigno stars in I sette magnifici gladiatori (“The Seven Magnificent Gladiators”), an Italian-made English-language film that reimagines the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven premise and throws in some supernatural elements.
It’s not by any means a serious adaptation, but the absurdist western comedy ¡Three Amigos! features a familiar plot construct. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short are recruited by a Mexican village that’s being terrorized by outlaws. Their characters are only silent movie actors, though — far from magnificent.
The Magnificent Seven is adapted as a western TV series on CBS, starring Michael Biehn, Ron Perlman, and Eric Close. It lasts two seasons (and is now available on MGM Home Entertainment and Hulu).
From the October 2016 issue.