RETURN OF THE SEVEN
(director: Burt Kennedy; screenwriter: Larry Cohen; cinematographer: Paul Vogel; editor: Bert Bates; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Yul Brynner (Chris Adams), Robert Fuller (Vin), Julian Mateos (Chico), Warren Oates (Colbee), Claude Akins (Frank), Elisa Montes (Petra, Chico’s Wife), Jordan Christopher (Manuel), Fernando Rey (Priest), Emilio Fernandez (Francisco Lorca), Virgilio Teixeira (Luis Emilio Delgado), Rudy Acosta (Lopez); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; MGM; 1966)
“It never amounts to more than a trifle.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This colorful but inane and unsatisfactory sequel to the 1960 The Magnificent Seven has only Yul Brynner returning. It never amounts to more than a trifle. The dreary and absurd script by Larry Cohen is directed by Burt Kennedy (“The War Wagon”/”The Train Robbers”) as if it were a spaghetti western and the further you can get away from anything that resembles the truth, the less you have to pretend that this is an inspired film. It was lushly filmed in De Luxe Technicolor in Spain, which was its best quality.
The tired formulaic plot has a pastoral Mexican farming village raided by sixty crazed men led by sociopath killer Francisco Lorca (Emilio Fernandez), who only takes the men and forces them to work on a church and farming community he’s rebuilding as an homage to his dead sons who dwelt in the previously raided village.
Petra (Elisa Montes), the lovely wife of Chico (Julian Mateos), one of the kidnapped farmers, contacts professional gunslinger Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), a friend of Chico’s, to help save the village. Chris is joined by best friend bounty hunter Vin (Robertb Fuller), whose only question refers to if they have enough guns to go up against the outlaws. That prompts our hero to go to jail to bail out two killers, Frank (Claude Akins) and Luis (Virgilio Teixeira), who have no problems joining this worthwhile mission and getting out of the corrupt jail. Before dawn arrives Chris recruits ladies man gunslinger Colbee (Warren Oates) and the teenager good luck charm Manuel (Jordan Christopher), who can’t handle a gun but is overjoyed to go on this suicide mission to hang around with the big boys and act macho–he now has family. This adds up to seven if you count Chico, who is expected to fight once freed.
This story is just an excuse to have a number of fight scenes, as Chris and his macho men give it their best shot to make the world safe for cowardly but nice Mexican farmers with the hope that some day they can stand on their own feet. It sounds pretty much like W.’s Iraqi war policy, that’s how absurd it is.
A fine actor like Fernando Rey plays a priest, but he’s forced to say banal lines and ends up looking as bad as all the Mexican extras falling when shot.
REVIEWED ON 1/24/2007 GRADE: C-