21 June 2010


On Saturday night I chanced upon a broadcast of the 1960 American western The Magnificent Seven, which starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen as the core of a band of mercenary gunfighters who come to the aid of a Mexican farming village beleaguered by bandits. The dialogue has its share of cliches, but also its share of thoughtful truths (e.g., Charles Bronson's impassioned lecture to three boys about those who truly possess courage -- the boys' fathers). While not a great film, it was fun to watch the ensemble cast of future stars in their youth.

TMS was an homage to Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film The Seven Samurai. Set in feudal Japan in the late 1500s, the title characters are ronin (masterless warriors) who similarly gather to defend a farming village threatened by bandits. TSS is one of the most influential films ever made. It introduced a number of original plot devices, as well as innovative cinematography (a Kurosawa trademark). There are significant differences between the two movies (see TMS link above), sufficiently that each stands along as its own mythic tale of heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, mortality, race or class prejudice, and romance.

Bonus. Here's a link to one of the skits which guest host Betty White performed recently on Saturday Night Live. Fair warning -- the sexual double entendres will sneak up on you. They are hilarious.

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