One of the seven....
Ok so before you read this, I want to you to hum the theme for The Magnificent Seven. Have you just hummed the theme for The Big Country?
No? There's a link to check at the end.
I have an deadline creeping ( well it is sprinting!) very close so I asked my pal to blog for me. He has just published this...
He wrote The Making of Lawrence of Arabia, The Making of The Guns of Navarone, Hitchcock’s Hollywood Hell and Darkness Visible: Hitchcock’s Greatest Film. But now he has landed a huge deal with an American publisher about this...
The Making of The Magnificent Seven: Behind the Scenes of the Pivotal Western.
It is a huge book, I confess about a film I don't think I have ever seen but I think there is some galloping, some shooting and lots of very good looking men in hats. Are you all now trying to remember who the seven were?
Here's what Brian has to say. I will try not to be too caustic about men on horses in the desert keeping their trousers very clean!
When there's mockery like this, it's well in the cultural consciousness
So here's Seven Things You Didn’t Know About The Magnificent Seven (1960)
By Brian Hannan
Was he one of them? Some bloke with a Death Wish?
1) It was a flop.
United Artists had a bust-up with the film-makers and refused to give the movie a big premiere. Instead of a glitzy launch in New York or Los Angeles it was turned loose in the southwest in what was called a “saturation” release which at the time was primarily reserved for exploitation pictures that died the death once word got round. In major cities films you’ve never heard of thumped it at the box office – Freckles topped it in St Louis and The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come in Louisville. When the figures were tallied up for first year of release, it was beaten in the annual box office stakes by a host of less expensive films lacking proper stars. These included British stiff-upper-lip war picture Sink the Bismarck starring Kenneth More, Italian sword-and-sandals epic Hercules Unchained starring Steve Reeves, an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World starring Michael Rennie and a young Jill St John, the special effects relying on photographically enlarged lizards, Richard Burton drama The Bramble Bush and anaemic Disney true-life adventure Jungle Cat.
Etc etc etc....
2) John Sturges was third choice to direct the film.
Initially, star Yul Brynner was going to direct.
The King Of Siam and some other guy (hats on)
He also wore a hat while putting out fires in NY while
DR Kildare came to a sticky end.
3) Composer Elmer Bernstein was fourth choice. John Sturges wanted Dmitri Tiomkin (High Noon) to write the score but they fell out when Tiomkin insisted of having a song over the opening credits. Classical composer Aaron Copland, one of Bernstein’s influences, was next in line and Alex North (Exodus) got as far as seeing the completed film before Sturges turned to Bernstein. Despite the music making an impact, the original soundtrack was not released for many years. Initially, guitarist Al Caiola was more associated with the music than Bernstein, having released a single that sold well while Bernstein, signed to a competitor to the UA label, was originally refused permission. Bernstein was nominated for an Oscar for the sequel Return of the Seven even though there was little original about the music since it was mostly lifted from the first picture.
Not a bit of horse drool on him.
4) Among those reported to be in the running for a role were Swedish world heavyweight boxing champion Ingemar Johansson, who had won the title in 1959 after beating the American Floyd Paterson, and singer Sammy Davis Jr., a member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack.
Was he one?
5) The famous tagline “They were seven…but they fought like seven hundred” was virtually a direct copy of the tagline for a Gregory Peck western Only the Valiant nearly a decade before which ran “They were six…but they fought like six hundred.” Curiously, the Peck film also concerned seven men faced insuperable odds.
Yip, that's three!!
6 ) Sturges received a critical drubbing in one of the most influential books ever written about film. Andrew Sarris in his landmark study American Cinema, published in 1968, which assessed every notable director, commented: “It is hard to remember why John Sturges career was ever considered meaningful.”
Is he a goodie or a baddie?
7) Local cinemas did not feel obliged to stick to the advertising text supplied by United Artists. The Baker theater in Lockhart must have confused The Magnificent Seven with some other movie to dream up the following advertisement: “A message picture (and) handsomely mounted social drama.” Cinema owners could choose what picture to play it with though I wonder how many people were attracted to a double bill of The Magnificent Seven and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Brian ( Get him on your team in a pub quiz!!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iteRKvRKFA for the theme tune. Did you get it right?
Brian Hannan on behalf of Caro Ramsay, 05 06 2015