The Making of The Magnificent Seven

Behind the Scenes of the Pivotal Western

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About the Book

The story behind The Magnificent Seven could have been a movie in itself. It had everything—actors’ strike, writers’ strike, Mexican government interference and a row between the screenwriters that left one removing his name from the credits, all under the lingering gloom of post–McCarthy era Hollywood. A flop on release, it later became a box office hit. This book tells the behind-the-scenes story: how Yul Brynner became the biggest independent producer in Hollywood; why John Sturges was not the first choice after Brynner surrendered the director’s chair; why Sturges quit; the truth about the Mirisch Company (producers); the details of the film’s botched release and unlikely redemption; the creation of Elmer Bernstein’s classic score; and how internecine fighting prevented the making of the television series in 1963. Myths about Steve McQueen, his feud with Brynner and the scene-stealing antics of the cast are debunked. A close examination of the various screenplay drafts and the writers’ source material—Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai—shows who wrote what. Extensive analysis of Sturges’ directorial work is provided.

About the Author(s)

Brian Hannan writes a regular column for Cinema Retro magazine and gives lectures on film at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Hannan

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 79 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9695-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1910-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1. The Arthouse Actioner 13
2. Yul Brynner, Movie Mogul 28
3. John Sturges and Mirisch: A Hollywood Marriage 42
4. Battle of the Scriptwriters 55
5. Walter Newman vs. William Roberts 65
6. Masquerade, Strike, Lawsuits, Censor 76
7. Casting: The Truth Went Thataway! 90
8. Egos Unleashed 103
9. Steve McQueen, Scene Stealer, Elmer Bernstein, Scene Setter 116
10. Breaking the Rules 125
11. Interlude: The Poster That Never Was 134
12. John Sturges: Artist and Economist 138
13. John Sturges: Battle Master 147
14. Interlude: Renegades and Firebrands 157
15. Encountering the Inevitable: Themes of The Magnificent Seven 162
16. The Film Nobody Remembers 172
17. Panic Stations 183
18. Showdown at the Box Office 194
19. Redemption 207
20. Magnificent Seven the Musical 217
21. Legacy 229
Appendix: Seven Samurai Reissues 237
Chapter Notes 241
Bibliography 263
Index

Book Reviews & Awards

  • The Magnificent Seven can certainly lay claim to being the most loved [Western]…Hannan’s research for The Making of the Magnificent Seven is impressive…exhaustive…a story well told”— Wall Street Journal
  • “Fascinating…meticulously charts Brynner’s rise to stardom and his desire to direct…strongly recommend[ed]…an engrossing read”—Classic Film and TV Café
  • “Dredges up details of the technical, financial, political, personal, and artistic underpinnings of a western movie that significantly influenced the genre”—ProtoView
  • “Fascinating…Hannan well documents the story behind the film which has everything…the book is a must read”—Western Clippings
  • “A thorough, fascinating, informative, and endlessly entertaining book length study on ‘The Making of The Magnificent Seven.’ The book is relentlessly fascinating, taking the reader on the complete journey of the film, from its inspiration, to its concept, its casting, production, execution, and impact. There is absolutely nothing about this movie that is overlooked in this study. Everything is given full and complete attention. The author is thorough without being convoluted, astute without being pedantic, and his stories continue to be interesting, informative, and enlightening. An impressive understanding of 60s cinema…. It is one of the best books written on a particular film”—Examiner
  • “Recommended”—Flick Attack