‘The Magnificent Seven’ Filmed With Large Parts of the Script Unfinished

by Jonathan Howard

When Robert Vaughn was attempting to put The Magnificent Seven together, he had most of the work done, but definitely not all of it. Instead, the actor and the rest of the crew went to Mexico without a complete script and just took things from there.

After the passing of Robert Vaughn, all seven have passed on to the Wild West in the sky. However, the great folks at Cowboys & Indians took a dive into the actor’s autobiography and into the legendary Western film. This was a film that helped define the modern era of the genre. Shot on-site in Mexico, this film had its share of issues and problems.

When Vaughn joined the cast, filmmaker John Sturges told him they didn’t have a script. Instead, they just had their inspiration piece for the movie. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai from 1954. However, Vaughn wanted to be part of it. By the time they started to film, the script was made up as they went along. Vaughn recalls that part of filming The Magnificent Seven.

“There were long periods when we didn’t work because the script was still being written,” the actor remembered. “We’d be told one evening ‘Tomorrow we’ll be doing scene so-and-so.’ And that night carbon copies of the script on onion-skin paper would be slid under our doors to learn for the next day.”

That’s what I’d call working on the fly. The fact that the film was shot on-site in Mexico and developed step-by-step on set are things that add to the legacy. It wasn’t always a fun time, either and Vaughn recalled that he had, “a stomach-churning case of the Aztec two-step.” That’s dedication to the project.

‘The Magnificent Seven’ Was Hard to Cast

When John Sturges set out to make this film a reality, he didn’t have much. He just had a vision, a dream, and some inspiration from Kurosawa’s film. The Japanese epic inspired a lot of modern films and The Magnificent Seven is no different. It is probably the most famous film directly inspired by the Kurosawa classic.

So, when he was looking for talent there wasn’t a lot to go off of. Sturges was able to snag a legendary cast with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Horst Buchholz, and Brad Dexter starred as the seven in question. Sturges was honest with Vaughn and was able to convince him to join up. He also helped bring Coburn onto the project.

Now, 61 years later, The Magnificent Seven has been rebooted in recent years and the original remains a classic film. There are few Westerns that encapsulate the genre in the way this one did, and with a cast of stars it has held up.