Since the trend lately has been lots of threads about older movies, I'm starting this one separate from the Western thread that's buried somewhere. (Counting seconds until Caesar or Slicker excavates it....)
This is an awesome movie, a 1960 remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic Seven Samurai. (I caught the tail end of Seven Samurai for the first time last night, which reminded me of how great The Magnificent Seven is.)
For the time, it was groundbreaking. The seven hired guns in question are rough, sometimes rotten, SOBs -- definitely not the sort you see in most John Wayne westerns. But from the very beginning, we see that they have their own strict moral code (not dissimilar from chivalry or bushido, which makes sense since it's a remake of a samurai movie). The movie begins with two of the heroes (Chris and Vin -- alias Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen) meeting by chance and defending a funeral procession from a bunch of racist townspeople who didn't want a Mexican buried in their cemetary (pretty heavy stuff in 1960). They're hired to defend a small Mexican village from the bandit Calvera, and assemble a team of seven of the baddest SOBs the west has to offer. Notable among the crew are Britt (James Coburn), probably the single baddest mutha in film history (he shoots a guy off a horse at an impossible range, then remarks it was a lousy shot since he was aiming at the horse), and Chico (Horst "I'm Never Doing Anything Worthwhile Again" Buchholz), a kid fresh off the farm, who wants to escape that life but eventually discovers it's where he belongs.
Without giving away too much, the bandits are defeated, but at a heavy price. Only three of the seven survive the battle.
The ending is a bit more upbeat than Seven Samurai, though. In both films, the leader comments that the only winners are the farmers. However, in The Magnificent Seven, Chico gets the girl and it's strongly implied that he will return to the farming life; his Japanese counterpart is left staring stupidly at the woman he loves as she seems to shun him. (I guess that was to make it more palatable to American viewers, and since it's a lot easier to just stop being a hired gun in the old west than it was to renounce a position as a samurai in feudal Japan.)
Great film, and if you've not seen it, you should do so immediately.
There were a crapload of sequels and TV series spinoffs and the like. I've never seen any of them, nor do I want to. The Magnificent Seven is a totally self-contained story, and it ends with Chris and Vin riding into the sunset. Period.