After the success of The Magnificent Seven the men were no longer mere movie icons. They were also a popular and lucrative franchise, beginning their third adventure some nine years after Yul Brynner and partners originally saddled up in their remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai . Brynner’s original role as Chris transfers to one of Hollywood’s most versatile and dependable character actors, George Kennedy. As the legendary gunfighter, he accepts a $600 bounty from Max (Reni Santoni), a rebel dedicated to the downfall of the oppressive Federale regime and the rescue of captured rebel leader Quintero (Fernando Rey).
To effect the rescue, Chris and Max gather together a gang comprising knifeman Levi (James Whitmore) gunman Keno (Monte Markham), sharpshooters Slater and P.J (Joe Don Baker and Scott Thomas) and explosives expert Cassie (Bernie Casey). They begin by freeing and training local Mexican prisoners and enlisting a group of bandits, disenchanted with their own deposed leader. Together, the fighters head for the prison in the quest to rescue Quintero.
Director Wendkos makes the most of his Spanish locations (also used in the first sequel, Return of the Seven) to add colour and depth. His long, distinguished career in television – encompassing major series such as Hawaii Five-O , Wild, Wild West , The Invaders and The Untouchables – made him an expert in establishing characters quickly. Writer Hoffman enriches his script with political rallying calls aimed at an American people who were still reeling from the loss of their own inspirational leader (coincidentally another Kennedy) and civil rights advocate Martin Luther-King.
The seven would meet for the final time in The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972). The original septet continue, in name at least, as one of the country’s most popular pub quiz questions.
USA / 1969
Director: Paul Wendkos
Writer: Herman Hoffman
Cast: George Kennedy, James Whitmore, Monte Markham, Bernie Casey, Joe Don Baker, Scott Thomas, Reni Santoni, Michael Ansaro, Fernando Rey, Sancho Garcia