- Directed by George McCowan
- August 1, 1972
Chris Adams, now serving as a marshal in the southern Arizona Territory, is asked by his friend Jim Mackay to help him defend a Mexican border town from bandits.
While the first and third films in the series were good the second and fourth were lackluster in comparison to the original. Not unwatchable but not as deep as the classic was. Number two was quite possibly the weakest of them, and number four is good but not great. It follows the formula of the first three with getting a bunch of shady characters together to save a small town and to one extent or another find a little redemption along the way. The redemption aspect is fine but how many times can you go and save a town?
Lee Van Cleef becomes the third actor to play Chris Adams. He starts at the movie dressed like a Western pimp and only gets to looking tough and rugged after he goes to chase down the young punk that he let off easy that then went and raped and killed his wife. There is no real reflection on what was done or the consequences. But that’s not even the bad part.
As a pairing of screen couples go Marietta Hartley does not really fit with Lee Van Cleef. Even if they’re only on the screen for a short time screen couples need some kind of chemistry and there is none between Mariette Hartley and we Van Cleef. They are like tepid work buddies that could be separated over a minor inconvenience.
The Magnificent Seven Ride! starts out weak as Chris is hunting down the young punk and his pals at first for shooting him and kidnapping his wife and then for the rape and murder of his wife. While a nice setup for a Western revenge flick it does not scream a need to gather together a gang to fight and you go in expecting just that. That kind of loses you from the start.
Bandito Juan De Toro (Ron Stein) is the ultimate villain of the story with Chris going after him after his friend Jim MacKay (Ralph Waite) is killed when killing the punk. De Toro never rises to much of a threat and truth be told I think you mostly just see him. I am not sure he even gets any real dialogue. He is never a threat or even built as an adversary.
Chris is joined in his quest by newspaper reporter Noah Forbes (Michael Callan) who seeks to make a buck by writing a book on Chris before finding himself drawn into conflict. The rest of the group is made up of convicts-some of whom have promised to kill Chris. We have Mark Skinner (Luke Askew), Captain Andy Hayes (James Sikking), Pepe Carrall (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.), Walt Drummond (William Lucking), and Scott Elliott (Ed Lauter). An interesting mix of actors but none of their characters get that well developed. We get a few vague traits but not enough to give them an arc.
This film is photographed a bit more like a TV movie than a feature film and I’m left with the impression The Magnificent Seven Ride! was done on the serious cheap. Plenty of what you see drives that home. If you watched enough shows or films of a certain era you will recognize the sets and locations quite readily. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it was a fun element to me but they did not travel too far and wide to film this movie even though it covers a great distance. There is not a great deal of visual change to convey traveled distance.
I will say that I thought George Kennedy was a good choice to replace Yul Brynner in the part of Chris Adams. Van Cleef isn’t bad, but he just didn’t fit the part even if this was a more reformed and settle down Chris Adams. Van Cleef was a good actor but he had more charm and less tough in the part.
The story of The Magnificent Seven Ride! is not a bad story yet but it lacks the depth and the strength of the original film or of its predecessor. It is much more of a shoot-‘em-up Western than it is about characters finding redemption by fighting the good fight. That was a strength of the original. There are a few moments where the characters look at themselves but not many and they are not long.
I won’t call The Magnificent Seven Ride! a great film but it’s not a disappointment. It doesn’t necessarily suffer by being related to a great movie, but it is not as good as it could have been. It is still good enough that I will recommend it because it’s just old fashioned fun if nothing else.