Tuesday, October 11, 2016

            I broke down and saw The Magnificent Seven. It's a very good shoot-'em-up, blazing action, powder-burning Western and I enjoyed it, but there were things that bothered me at the same time.
            Case in point: In the first scene a group of citizens meet in a church to wonder what can be done about the ruthless businessman who has taken over their town and land. Among the group is the female lead of the movie, a lovely young woman who's wearing a scoop-necked dress. She's a farmer's wife and sports a peaches-and-cream complexion. Now, you know me. I'm not one to complain about a nice display of creamy cleavage or a pretty face, but come on. A farmer's wife?
            Point two: We meet our star, a black bounty hunter, who walks into a saloon looking for a man with a price on his head. WARNING. It's the barkeep. END OF WARNING  After some banter and tension a shootout occurs. The bounty hunter kills the shotgun-toting bouncer, the bartender, and one other man. He fires five shots. Then he gives a mean look to the 50 or so people in the bar and they stampede for the batwings.
            Number one, the minute a black guy walked into a whites only bar in those days he was either killed or beaten up and thrown out. Hell, it would have happened in 1959 in some places , never mind 1879. So that was bogus. Then, the patrons bolting for safety when the guy had either one or no bullets left made no sense. You need a huge supply of suspension of disbelief to be satisfied with this scene.
            So Black Guy assembles his team when offered some money to defend the town. They are Mexican Guy, Indian Guy, Asian Guy, Old Mountain Man White Guy, Ex-Confederate White Guy, and I think the last one was Irish White Guy. The U.N. must have loved the casting.
            Nevertheless, most of them were fun to watch.
            Final point: The evil land grabber and mine owner launches his attack on the town. For openers he sends in 200 desperadoes. They townies kill 300 and 100 more are still left to engage in street-to-street fighting. All of this is done quite well. But the attack is faltering so WARNING AGAIN Bad Guy breaks out a Gatling gun and starts killing everyone, including his own thugs. I ask, wouldn't it have been more effective to use the Gatling first and then use the owlhoots to mop up? END OF WARNING.
            Despite these flaws, I liked the movie for what it was. Like the Lone Ranger movie with Johnny Depp, it might not be the real McCoy, but it was fun and had some exciting action sequences.

            A couple of weeks earlier I saw Bridget Jones's Baby I thought it was a huge disappointment but some old geezer down the row from me laughed often. And that's more than I need to say about this.


Bill Crider said...

I thought you were going to mention some the anachronistic lines, like "worst case scenario." But I enjoyed the movie the same way you did, as an entertaining shoot-em-up. I like the original better.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'd forgotten that line, but when you jogged my memory I realized it struck me as off key when I saw the movie. Or when the farmer's widow, she of the creamy cleavage, says "I'm the only one with enough balls to..." my inner critic said WRONG.

Jahn Ghalt said...

On balance, I don’t regret the time spent to see this remake, which honored the usual Western tropes and stuck to the very simple original Seven Samurai plot.

Damned if I can remember her name (actress or character) but she was very easy to look at - call her redhead-who-can-shoot. Interesting what different viewers respond to - for my part the "farmer" was no more than cannon-fodder - a motivational tool for redhead-who-can-shoot.

The most jarring line was early on in the church when criminal-mining-boss used the word "capitalism" in a Western.

(talk about a tone-deaf anachronism)

Telling, too, was that the screenwriter(s) and all the subsequent editors left in the juxtaposition of capitalism and looting/warfare/criminality. This shows that those particular film-writers are in their own little political bubble - they are pretty much as insular as the Beltway political class in Washington. And it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about capitalism - which is, at its core, based on voluntary transactions. Ironic, when you consider the film business is fundamentally capitalist.

Moving off the soapbox: it's very interesting that (to perhaps no one but me) Samuel L. Jackson (in The Hateful Eight) and Denzel Washington apparently can't act their way out of their complexions, but that Eli Wallach - an actor from his own distant Tribe - can act his way into a Mexican complexion (in the 1960 version and later in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

"Rainbow Coalition" came to my mind about the casting for the Seven. But they all displayed attitude in spades, which appealed to me.

I thought the same thing regards how one would use the Gattling Gun, but also thought that they could have left out the entire sequence with that particular and jumped to the denouement.

@Bill Crider: "worst case scenario" is a real stinker.

And Captain: redhead-who-can-shoot could definitely have gotten a better metaphor than “balls”.

Cap'n Bob said...

Good points. I interpreted the use of capitalism the same way I interpret it when people say things like pro-life or pro-choice--a way to express a doctrine with favorable language. In 1879, when this movie took place, the word capitalism was still pretty new and perhaps used facetiously. But yeah, the Hollywood elite often can't help making a political statement where one isn't needed. Thanks for writing.

Richard Robinson said...

So after all these years I guess I have to ask. What the Hell is an "owl hoot"? What does it have to do with owls, or hooting (which is of course what it sounds like it should be). Once I thought it was slang for a character like Gabby Hayes, a chuck wagon cook, or ranch hand. But nope. So?

Cap'n Bob said...

It's a bad guy. One who takes to the owlhoot trail, who skulks around by night because he's wanted for some crime.