Magnificent Seven: Everett Collection
May 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

There’s a somewhat degrading appellation that usually ends up tagged on to films like The Magnificent Seven or, for that matter, ”The Dirty Dozen” or ”Force 10 From Navarone”: They’re referred to, somewhat snidely, as ”guy movies.” Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they’ve all got numbers in the title (”The Great Escape” escaped the numerical indicator perhaps because ”The Terrific 250” is a little unwieldy). Or it could just be that these are really camouflaged superhero movies, films about beings whose exploits minimize those of mortal men. What’s more, these modern knights travel in packs; they’re like the Avengers or the Justice League, and boys of all ages liken their cadre of cronies to roving rogues looking for wrongs to right.

It’s the same lure of masculine camaraderie that made ”Seven Samurai” — Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 epic about wandering warriors who come to the aid of a village hounded by bandits — such a natural for a John Sturges directed Western remake to star Tinseltown titans like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson.

The story behind ”Seven”’s journey from Japan to Hollywood is detailed in this DVD’s saddlebag of supplemental materials, which includes a commentary by Coburn, Eli Wallach (who played the chief bandido), and producer Walter Mirisch, as well as a retrospective documentary featuring interviews with, among others, Brynner, Coburn, and other ”Magnificent” members Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, and Horst Buchholz — the German pretty boy who somberly recalls the ribbing he constantly got from McQueen. And the new Dolby Digital 5.1 sound doesn’t amplify the action so much as envelop you in one of the most recognizable movie scores not written by John Williams.

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