Oscar® winner* Yul Brynner turns in a "great performance" (Los Angeles Herald Times) as a smooth master gunfighter who must do battle with his most formidable adversary ? his own conscience ? in this gripping, double-barre... more »led western full of blistering shootouts, surprise twists and colorful villainy. In a New Mexico frontier town, Jules Gaspard d'Estaing (Brynner) is hired by the town's boss (Pat Hingle) to kill Matt Weaver (George Segal), a Civil War veteran who returns to reclaim his farm and his woman. But when d'Estaing realizes that Weaver may be the only honest man left, the conflicted hired gun must either kill an innocent man ? or destroy his own reputation ? in a heart-stopping final showdown.« less
"This movie made me a Yul Brynner fan. I'd watched him many times in other movies, but I'd never seen a movie just because Yul Brynner was in it. Now I feel it is time to review this fine gentleman's career. I've been a movie fan for over forty years and appreciate a good Western, yet somehow this film had escaped me. Its release date (1964) places it in a volatile period within and beyond the movie industry. For Westerns, John Wayne rules, but A Fistfull of Dollars is just around the corner. Invitation is therefore free of the Italian influence, but Yul takes the no-name, silent gunman to the extreme in the first part of the film. He is mystic, mesmerizing, mysterious, and muy macho in this role! As his character slowly reveals himself, he loses his invulnerability and where it leads, no other Hollywood leading man could have pulled this off. Bravo, Yul!
And brave,too. 1964 was a year of many troubled civil rights freedom marches and sit-ins. How this film played at the time and how many fans might react would certainly make this a risky venture. The story involves interracial love, bigotry, and even a one-man riot and looting scene. All in all, Yul Brynner carries this movie. Masterfully using just a look rather than unnecessary dialog, he brings depth and rich characterization to his role. And with that, powerful empathy to an overall theme of justice, respect, and equality.
On a minor note, in an area often inaccurate in Westerns, this movie matches the guns to the era. The setting is 1865, and the pistols and rifles look authentic for the time. I also was curious about what might be in those two little bags of luggage Brynner carries with him as apparently his only possessions. They remain with him to the end and effectively add to his mysterious persona."
A Deep and Very Dark Western with a Message
Byron H. Norris | Brownwood, Texas | 08/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yul Brynner is a powerful and dynamic actor. He had donned the cowboy hat before in the 'Magnificent Seven' but quite arguably Jules was his greatest role ever.
In the film Brynner plays a mysterious gun fighter hired to kill a rebel who's property was sold in the war. The man demands answers but is shot. Forced to leave he refuses and returns to his farm where a gun is drawn upon him and he has to defend himself. In killing the man he has a bounty placed upon his head and a gunman is hired. But this movie is more than just a simple Western. It is much, much, much more.
In the town the Mexicans are treated as inferiors. The rebel is the only man that treats them decently. And they beg Jules not to kill him. Jules refuses yet Jules has a dark secret of his own that is similar to the Mexicans. Jules is a Creole from Louisana and is half French and African. His father was a slave owner and his mother was a slave. Because of this he was treated as inferior. When his mother argued with his father she was sold away because she was property. So naturally Yules is a cold and very dark because of the hardship and injustices of his past. And in Brynner, the Mexicans, and the Rebel there are three groups that are being discriminated against. The town claims to be against slavery but yet it stands by every injustice outside of it. And we see the conflict that surmonts between Jules, the Rebel, and the Town. So the film shapes into a morality play of sorts like 'High Noon' where the protagonist must choose between right and wrong. Brynner's role is very much like Eastwood's 'Man with No Name'. He is sort of an anti-hero or perhaps a divided one who has to make deep, difficult desicions. Does he do his job or does he do what is right? The film has romance, intensity, and passion and it all plays out well. The film is really a fine example of how great the past generation was in filmmaking. This film makes the viewer think, feel, and rationalize. The characters are very human and that is what I appreciate. Brynner's role is very realistic and intersting as he is more than just a hired cowpoke: he is a deep, complex, and intense. This film is truly a work of art and should be a part of any Western fans collection.
Yul Brynner in yet another sexy wolf-among-sheep role.
Rob | 06/17/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As Leonard Maltin has already observed, this is pretty talky for a western, but if you love Yul Brynner, you'll like this.It's a typical Brynner role in which he plays the outsider who comes in to handle a problem that no one else can or will.It's also a typical western in that the rich haves are busy further disenfranchising the have-nots, and the bourgeois are either too comfortable or faint-of-heart to do anything about it other than hire a tough guy.As usual, Brynner not only epitomizes tough-guyness, but he also manages to display his intellect and grasp of culture. This set him apart from most tough guys of the era.Brynner's character is tormented and driven by his secret past. Yul was always able to make this kind of thing work on the screen, because he was enigmatic and exotic in real life, having been born in Vladivostok of Swiss, Mongolian, Russian, and Greek stock. Read the biography written by his son Yul Brynner Jr. for more on this.The outcome of the conflict is tragic and not what any of the principals think it will be, except perhaps Brynner's character.I personally find it hard to watch anyone else when Brynner is on screen, but the rest of the cast acquit themselves admirably."
More than a "Western"...
yadlyrarbil | Lower Burrell, Pa United States | 01/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This skilfully crafted screenplay gives the viewer far more than gunplay, it is a biting social comentary as relavent today as it was when it was made. Brynner is at his best turning the hypocrissy, cowardice and dirty secrets of the small New Mexico town that hired him to kill it's only "reb" to it's destruction, and gives an uncomfortably open view of our society. Excellent dialogue and acting by George Seagal and Janice Rule, as well as the town "capons" lead by Pat Hingle."
Yul Brynner is Magnificent
hille2000 | USA | 03/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you liked Yul Brynner in "The Magnificent Seven" you will love him in this movie. Brynner is cool as they come. This is a great western and should be on DVD."