The Magnificent Seven
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1954) is westernized as The Magnificent Seven. Yul Brynner plays Chris, a mercenary hired to protect a Mexican farming village from its annual invasion by bandit Calvera (Eli Wallach). As Elmer Bernstein's unforgettable theme music (later immortalized as the "Marlboro Man" leitmotif) blasts away in the background, Chris rounds up six fellow soldiers of fortune to help him form a united front against the bandits. The remaining "magnificent six" are played by Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, and (the one that everybody forgets) Brad Dexter. Though jam-packed with action, William Roberts's screenplay pauses long enough to flesh out each of its characters, allowing the audience to pick their own favorites. The Magnificent Seven was followed by three sequels, not to mention dozens of imitations.