the magnificent seven VS. the good, the bad, and the ugly

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love both of these movies a lot. (A LOT.)  I’ve been obsessed with The Magnificent Seven (shortened to Mag7 for the rest of this post) ever since February of 2015, and while I discovered The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (hereby referred to as GBU) only recently, thanks to a impulse buy at a thrift store, I’ve come to like it enough that choosing between it and Mag7 seems like an impossibility.  But I’ll try, by comparing and contrasting different elements of both films – and then making a final consensus at the end.  Now, I know that even though these movie are both westerns, they’re different enough to make comparisons between them a bit difficult, but they’re both awesome movies (and Eli Wallach is in both of them), so I figure it won’t be toooo hard.

And now it’s time for an EPIC showdown. (Just not a Mexican one.)

{Story}

Mag7: A gang of bandits terrorize a small Mexican village, so the villagers hire seven gunmen to keep the bandits away (well, they hire six, but Chico just sort of shows up – I wonder how that fit in with the village’s tight budget).  Awesomeness ensues.  All the gunmen get to know each other, there are a couple of epic battles, and a good dash of character development for everyone.  A simple story, but done splendidly.

GBU: There’s 200,000 dollars in gold lying around in some graveyard, and three guys fight over it for close to three hours.  That’s basically it.  (But awesomeness still ensues.)  It’s somewhat fascinating to see what lengths people will go for money (like in Treasure of the Sierra Madre).  Oh, and there’s some Civil War stuff that doesn’t really have much bearing on the story.

{Characters}

Mag7: (Am I the only one who finds it interesting that both Mag7 and GBU are named after their characters?  Yes.  Oh, well…)  The characters in this film are wonderful.  My favorite would be VinBrittBernardo.  Definitely.  Though Chris and Harry and Lee are good, too, but I can’t find it in me to warm up to Chico.  Just-no.  I get why he’s in the movie, and I do kinda appreciate his character growth, but no one can persuade me to actually like him.

GBU: The title of ‘The Good’ being given to Blondie is arbitrary at best, seeing as he’s not much better than either Tuco or Angel Eyes (but, somehow, we do accept that he has a different moral code, and I’d try to go into that, only I’m not in a very analytical mood).  But I still like Blondie because CLINT EASTWOOD.  I think Angel Eyes could have easily been a ridiculous character, but the combination of Lee Van Cleef’s acting skills and the fact that AE is consistently evil, is what sells the character.  As for Tuco, I find him hilarious and pathetic and actually kind of smart, all at the same time.  His and Blondie’s relationship is the BEST, though.  Seriously.

{Music}

Mag7: ARGH.  Both of these scores are so epic.  I think, however, that I prefer Mag7’s music just a teensy bit more than GBU’s, and I think the difference is this: whenever I listen to the theme for GBU, I’m like “Ohhhh, this is such an amazing piece of music”, but when I listen to Mag7’s theme, I’m like “Ohhhh, I need to watch this again, right now”.  And all these lovely, nostalgic feels come flooding back.  So it’s all in the mood, I guess.  Still…

GBU: …I adore this film’s score.  I find that it’s better writing music than Mag7, which is also good, and I love all the different variations of the main theme that play throughout the movie.  It’s awesome. (Of course, if you don’t like the main theme to begin with, it’s not, but whatever.)  All the whistling and weird instruments and EVERYTHING.

{Ending}

Mag7: *snifffff* Aw, man, this is such an emotion-packed ending.  Four of the seven are dead, Chico opts to stay behind (okay, that’s not really sad, but I do like his character development), and while the cowboys do ride off into the sunset, there’s not really much triumph involved in this finale.  “We’ll always lose.”  I mean, how depressing is that?  But you do get a satisfactory ending, all told, so I still like it. (And, after all, far be it from me to dislike a film just because of a somewhat downer ending.)

GBU: Everyone knows this ending.  THE EPIC SHOWDOWN.  Eeeeep.  It’s too awesome!  When I watched this movie for the first time, I had no idea how the showdown was going to turn out, which was great because I like being spoiler-free.  (Seeing how GBU is so famous, though, it’s a wonder I was spoiler-free.)  Anyway, it was amazing, and so was the scene that followed (trying not to spoil stuff for other people) because it was the perfect wrap-up to Tuco and Blondie’s relationship.

{Feels Potential}

Mag7: Tons.  Like I mentioned earlier, over half of the Magnificent Seven end up dead, plus they’re all so lonely (you can tell and it’s pretty sad), and certain scenes with Bernardo and those kids are particularly touching.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been moved to tears by this movie (well, maybe just once), but it does have its moments.  Definitely.

GBU: Eh.  I suppose the prisoners’ orchestra is pretty horrific (it reminded me of the stories of the prisoners forced to play music in Auschwitz), but I found the Civil War parts so boring, and I think Tuco deserves everything he gets, so…I don’t really know what to say.  There wasn’t really anything tear-worthy in GBU (and, believe me, I’m the kind of girl who can cry over almost anything, so that’s saying a lot).

{Fangirling Potential}

Mag7: Um…HELLO.  It’s STEVE MCQUEEN AND JAMES COBURN AND CHARLES BRONSON.  What’s not to fangirl over???

GBU: Um…HELLO.  It’s CLINT EASTWOOD.  What’s not to fangirl over???

{Stuff I Didn’t Like}

Mag7: Chico.  He’s the only thing about The Magnificent Seven that I don’t like.  Literally the only thing.  He’s just so lame and arrogant and childish that there’s no way I could ever really like him or root for his character.  Still, even with him being in Mag7, I think it’s practically perfect in every way.

GBU: The Civil War scenes, as I mentioned before.  Blah.  I think the director might have been trying to make some statement about the stupidity/futility of war, but those scenes feel like they were shoved into the movie with no rhyme or reason.  Also, the torture scene was gratuitous and I always skip the scene where Angel Eyes beats up that woman.  So there could’ve been less violence.

{Overall}

As with the music section, I think this whole comparison comes down to the emotions and feelings that The Magnificent Seven and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly evoke in me, and which I believe are better.  And so, I believe the winner would have to be, almost by default, Mag7.  GBU is excellent entertainment and all that, but it never quite strikes the chord that makes a film – for me – a great, emotional experience. (Plus, Mag7 has nostalgia on its side – there are plenty of awesome memories connected to it.)  I love both films, but Mag7 has a place in my heart, whereas GBU really doesn’t.

Have you seen either (or both) of these movies?  Which is your favorite?

Eva

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14 thoughts on “the magnificent seven VS. the good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. No, I haven’t seen either movie–but I think if I did, Mag7 would definitely be my favorite. It just looks like it has more Stuff That I Like in it–ya know what I mean? And that guy (what is his name? The guy who played The King of Siam?) is Quite Handsome. Basically . . . yeah. 😉

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  2. I’ve seen both — GBU probably 5 or 6 times, Mag7 too many to count. So that right there tells you which I like better.

    I think this was a very telling statement of yours: Oh, and there’s some Civil War stuff that doesn’t really have much bearing on the story. That’s a HUGE reason GBU doesn’t work particularly well for me — it’s not tightly written. And I do like a good rambly epic like Giant, but all the parts need to be related to the whole, not just there to be cool or because someone felt like tossing them in.

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    • Oh, I’ve seen Mag7 almost too many times to count as well. I still haven’t shown it to my grandfather (I can’t believe he’s never seen it, because he loves old movies like that), so there’s another re-watch right there. 🙂 But I’ve only seen GBU three times.

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    • Oh, I could barely get through Giant. James Dean was the only interesting thing about that maundering mess. Literally, the plot is like “Cattle ranching, something something, feminism, something something, old James Dean, everyone’s unhappy, the end.”

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      • YankeeGospelGirl — too funny! My best friend doesn’t like it either. I love it because it shows how two spoiled, self-centered people gradually mature into people who genuinely care about each other as well as others around them. They make a lot of mistakes along the way, and nearly ruin their children’s lives as well as their own, but by the end, they have improved so very much. It’s kind of a cool metaphor for our country as a whole, starting out proud and rebellious and gradually becoming a nation who can and does help others (aka WWII).

        But I can see how it could come across as “two rich people do a bunch of stuff.”

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      • Well, you make about as good a case for it as can be made. 🙂 And I can’t deny that it may be Dean’s best performance—more subtle and layered than he’s usually known for. It’s the only time we see him play old, which is such a weird and spooky feeling considering how young he died.

        I have to admit though that I have trouble taking Elizabeth Taylor’s character seriously when she goes off on one of her little feminist rants, but I think somehow the viewer is supposed to. 😉

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      • When I was very small, like 6, Jett Rink was my hero. I simply adored him — I’d go around whistling his theme song and walking the way he does when he paces out his little plot of land around the buffalo wallow. Even as an adult, I’ve remained terribly fond of him, so I was pretty annoyed when I read the book and discovered that in it, he’s a total jerk. Can’t stand him. So I kind of think they must have niced him up for the movie because Dean was a big deal right then. I’m so glad they did, because yes, what a performance. Not that he couldn’t have played a mean, nasty jerk equally well, but for a final role, this one was so touching. I’m really sad for the Jett of the movie.

        Oh, and yeah, that was a little trippy, trying to find your blog! I’ve been there before, and I was like, “Dude, why does this silly internet think it doesn’t exist?” Then I realized it was missing a letter and it all worked fine from there 😀

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  3. I have not seen GBU but it’s definitely on my to-watch! And I’ve seen Mag7 multiple times. 😀 My sister and I can’t stand Chico either! And she hated him totally independently, so I didn’t even wheedle her into disliking him. See? Independent confirmation. We were like, “Why couldn’t he have died instead of [spoilers]??”

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  4. Pingback: high noon VS. 3:10 to yuma | coffee, classics, & craziness

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