Belfast Telegraph

My seven choices will be quite Magnificent

By Frances Burscough

I don't really understand this trend for remaking classic movies. After all, to become a true classic in the first place a film has to be pretty much flawless, so it is unlikely a newer version will be an improvement. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don't try to fix it”. This is never truer than in the movie industry.

Nevertheless, film-makers do it time and time again and, predictably, they rarely succeed. In 2001, Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes starring Helena Bonham-Carter (yes, you read that correctly), wearing a monkey mask and hairy rubber gloves, was a particular low point. Frank Oz's version of The Stepford Wives in 2004 was absolutely hilarious, but not in a good way. And after the woeful Wicker Man remake in 2006, Nicholas Cage virtually became a laughing stock whose career has never really recovered.

So when I read in last week's Belfast Telegraph that they are remaking one of my all-time favourite films I was definitely in two minds. I mean, how could anyone even think of attempting to better the very magnificent The Magnificent Seven?

It had a brilliant ensemble cast of absolute legends including Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn and Steve McQueen.

And what a wonderful story, too. A small village plagued by vicious bullies hires a team of maverick renegades to defend them. It's a timeless story with eternal appeal that could apply anywhere in any period and still have resonance.

But, hang on a minute. If I recall correctly, wasn't The Magnificent Seven actually itself a remake of the great Japanese black and white classic The Seven Samurai? Does that make this an exception to the rule?

Maybe it wouldn't be sacrilege after all to bring it bang up-to-date with a modern cast. Maybe this is one story that does, can and will appeal to all generations and deserves a reboot to remind us of the compelling power of a real genuine blockbuster.

So, what do we know about this version so far? Not very much, because the powers that be are remaining typically tight-lipped about it, apart from the fact that Denzel Washington is one of the stars. Now, that I really do approve of. Denzel would be perfect as Chris, the veteran gunslinger originally played by Brynner who is the star of the movie and boss of the whole operation. OK, so we have one down. Six to go.

It is unlikely that the entire cast will be unveiled this early in the process. In fact, they could still be making their minds up. So I’ve decided to compile my own fantasy football league-type line-up of characters gleaned from my own modern day movie favourites.

For the young but enthusiastic pretty-boy Chico — originally played by the very delectable yet young and inexperienced actor Horst Buchholz — I’d cast the twinkling blue-eyed boy Zac Efron. That would pull in the teenage viewers alright, as well as gay men, heterosexual women, and indeed anyone with a pulse.

Chris's best mate, the chancer Harry Luck, would be an ideal part for Jamie Foxx, who was brilliant in a Western role recently as Django Unchained . For the loose-living drifter Vin, I’d cast Ryan Gosling, who played a similar type so well last year in Place Beyond The Pines and is almost — if not quite — as swooningly handsome as Steve McQueen in the original.

The sleazy, cheating, brooding Lee — originally portrayed by Robert Vaughn — would be a perfect role for our own Jamie Dornan, whom of course I would have to meet personally beforehand. Just to be sure.

Number Six — the loveable rogue Bernardo, whom Charles Bronson played so well, would be given to Russell Crowe, who has previously proved himself as a very convincing gunslinger in the fabulous 3.10 To Yuma. Then, last but not least, the cowboy joker Britt — played by James Coburn — would go to my dearly beloved Steve Buscemi, simply because I wouldn't even think of making an imaginary movie without him.

So, there you have it: my own delectable dream team for the next remake of a remake of a classic. And believe me, it's going to be magnificent. MGM, if you're reading this, I'm free anytime after today.

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