Ben Hur and The Magnificent 7 have turned 50. Both films are considered classics. BH was a groundbreaker, winning 11 of the 12 Oscars it was nominated for losing only for screenplay. Karl Tunberg, the author credited with the fantastic BH screenplay, turns out to have not written any of what turned up in the final on-screen story. Part of this revelation is included in the package of extras.
The anniversary edition is now available on BluRay. The colors and sound are incredible. The extras in the edition are also amazing. A book on the production is supplemented by a completed reproduction of the daily journal and calendar kept by Charlton Heston, right down to ticket stubs and souvenirs. On the 3rd disc of the set, CH’s son reads selections from the journal. This documentary also adds a pictorial history of the film from the actor’s point of view. And lots of other goodies. I like goodies. Other documentaries cover the extraordinary production which brought the epic to the screen. The 3rd disc also includes a complete viewing of the 1926 version complete with original tints and coloring added to augment the black and white film. It’s NOT to be missed.
On the shoot ‘em up side is the anniversary edition of The Magnificent 7. This film enhanced the career of Yul Brynner and brought full recognition to a host of Hollywood legends including Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Robert Vaughn. The transfer to BluRay brings to life a grandeur and colors that haven’t been seen since the film was on the big screen.
The extras include a dialogue track in which Producer Walter Mirsch, Eli Wallach (still going strong in his mid 90’s) and the late James Coburn talk and reminisce about the production. Fascinating insights and surprises galore. Other extras include documentaries on the all-time classic score by Elmer Bernstein and studio produced clips on the production.
Both these films and extras are highly recommended. The mammoth Ben Hur set (only 125,000 available) can be had for less than $45. Other editions without some of the extras and sans the two books of BH in BluRay are under $15. The Magnificent 7 BR edition is generally under $10. Magnificent.
Ben Hur rated 4.0 out of 4.0 (would be higher but for my limited numbering system). The Magnificent 7 is rated 4.0 out of 4.0 (would be rated 7.0 but…dang! That limited numbering system thing). Both films have horses in them. None named Al.