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The Magnificent Seven (or Eleven)

The Magnificent Seven (or Eleven)
We all know about The Magnificent Seven, don’t we? It was a 1960 American Western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The supporting cast featured Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn and Horst Buchholz.

Cast publicity photo of “The Seven”.
Left to right: Yul BrynnerSteve McQueenHorst BuchholzCharles BronsonRobert VaughnBrad Dexter, and James Coburn

Picture Credit/ATTRIBUTION: English: Photographer unknown. Distributed by Fox Film Corporation, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The story is about good beating evil: a gang of bandits led by Calvera (Eli Wallach) periodically raid a poor Mexican village for food and supplies. Then the mean Calvera goes too far, kills a villager, and it’s the last straw. The village leaders have had enough and decide to fight back. Three villagers ride to a town just inside the United States border, hoping to barter their few possessions for weapons. They meet Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), a veteran gunslinger, and approach him for advice. The gunslinger suggests they should hire gunfighters to defend the village, saying: “men are cheaper than guns.”

The Magnificent Seven (1960 version) screenplay by William Roberts is a remake – in an American Old West-style – of Akira Kurosawa‘s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. A group of seven gunfighters are hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a group of marauding bandits, led by Calvera (Eli Wallach).

The film, directed by John Sturges, was released by United Artists on 12th October 1960. Although it was both a critical and commercial success, it did not set the cinema box-office alight straight away but went on to become one of the most enduringly popular and loved films of the Western genre ever made.

The 1960 film spawned three sequels, a television series from 1998 to 2000, and a film remake in 2016. The 1960 film score was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score and is listed on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 25 American film scores[1]. In 2013, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.[2]

The Actors: The Baddy and The Magnificent Seven

Videos to bring the memories flowing back
The Official YouTube trailer is available online

Rotten Tomatoes has 12 short videos on its website – well worth watching: just click on the links below.

Picture Credit: “Magnificent7” by Dragotta is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Magnificent Eleven
How many people know about The Magnificent Eleven? They were the eleven photos taken by Robert Capa during the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach, Normandy, in 1944. During World War II, Capa was the only photojournalist to be part of the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach. He was attached to the U.S.16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

He subsequently claimed to have taken 106 pictures but later discovered that all but eleven had been destroyed, probably during processing at the laboratory.

Picture Credit: “D-Day: June 6, 1944: Allied Invasion of Normandy [photo by Robert Capa]” by Templar1307 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Robert Capa has been called one of the greatest photojournalists of all time and is mainly remembered as a war photographer. He is regarded by some as the greatest combat and adventure photographer in history.  He was proclaimed in 1938, at the age of 25, “the greatest war photographer in the world” in the British magazine Picture Post. He covered five different wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War.

Despite the nature of his work and where it took him, Capa is said to have hated war. He was born as André Friedmann (in Hungarian form, Friedmann Endre Ernő) to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, in 1913. His parents, Dezsö Friedmann and Julianna Berkovits, ran a dress salon in Pest, Hungary – his father worked as a tailor[3]. Capa studied political science at the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik in Berlin.

In 1931 and 1932, Capa worked for Dephot, a German picture agency, before establishing himself in Paris, where he assumed the name, Robert Capa. He first achieved fame as a war correspondent in the Spanish Civil War. Driven out of his country by the threat of a Nazi regime, he settled in Paris in 1933 and later in the USA, becoming a US citizen in 1946.

Capa was reputed to be a serial womaniser but became the life-companion and professional partner of photographer Gerda Taro (a Pole, birth name Gerta Pohorylle) and often referred to her as his wife. Together they worked under the alias Robert Capa and became photojournalists. Though she contributed to much of the early work, she quickly created her own alias, and they subsequently published their work separately. Gerda Taro stayed behind in Spain while Capa travelled to Paris for work in July 1937, was killed the car she was in was struck by a tank. Widely considered to be the first female photojournalist to die while covering a war, Taro’s death profoundly impacted Capa. Racked with grief, he never fully got over the loss, and while he went on to have numerous relationships, he never married[4].

Picture Credit: “portrait-of-photographer-robert-capa-blowing-smoke-from-cigarette-1942-alfred-eisenstaedt-b-772×1024” by urcameras is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Robert Capa defined what it was to be a war photographer, laying the foundation for future generations of photojournalists working in the field. His most famous photograph, Death of a Loyalist Militiaman (1936) depicts a Spanish soldier on the Córdoba front in mid-collapse from a fatal gunshot. He produced portraits of leading cultural figures during peaceful interludes, including Pablo Picasso and John Steinbeck[5].

He travelled to Hanoi in 1954 to photograph the French war in Indochina for LIFE. Sadly, shortly after his arrival, he stepped on a landmine and was killed.

In 1947, for the work Capa did in recording World War II in pictures, US general Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Hungary has issued a stamp and a gold coin in his honour.

Capa was the first photographer to make photojournalism appear glamorous and sexy.”[6]

In 2007, a suitcase containing some 4500 negatives of the Spanish Civil War by Capa, Taro, and Chim, was discovered in Mexico. Assumed lost since 1939, the images and the story behind them were the subject of a documentary film, The Mexican Suitcase, and a travelling exhibition at the International Center of Photography (the museum founded by Robert Capa’s brother, Cornell)[7].

Today, Capa’s photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and more[8].

Famous Robert Capa quotes:

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, then you aren’t close enough.”

“For a war correspondent to miss an invasion is like refusing a date with Lana Turner.”

“In a war, you must hate somebody or love somebody; you must have a position, or you cannot stand what goes on.”

“The truth is the best picture, the best propaganda.”

A person holding a gun Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Robert Capa at work: Picture Credit/ATTRIBUTION: By Gerda Taro, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sourced/Excerpted from and Further Reading

  1. See:
  2. See:  “Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections”. Washington Post (Press release). 18th December 2013
  3. Source:
  4. Source:
  5. Source:
  6. Source:
  7. Ibid
  8. Source:

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