Seven Guns for the MacGregors Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
The first film produced by Jolly Films after Sergio Leone had left them. Franco Giraldi, Leone's assistant-director for A Fistful of Dollars, was appointed as director. Giraldi preferred to do a comedy but the producers knew audiences required a strong dose of violence, so the movie became a mixture of lots of comedy, and lots of tough action. The movie could have had dramatic consequences for the history of the genre, since Fernando Sancho was nearly beheaded in one particular scene ...
The ranch of the Scottish family the MacGregors is attacked by Mexicans. The seven sons are having fun in the fields, so it's up to the older family members to defend the ranch. Eventually the sons are alarmed, by means of Queen Anne - a canon - and the Mexicans are all killed. The oldest son (Woods) infiltrates the gang of the bandit Santillana, who had masterminded the attack, and for the rest of the movie we see him running from one camp to another, gathering information among the Mexicans and informing his brothers about them afterwards. At one point, when changing sides, he is shot by both the Mexicans (who want to cover him) and his own brothers (who want to deceive the Mexicans). Most scenes are played for fun, but, as said, some of the violence is quite strong. A man is dragged through fire and a half naked Woods is severely whipped after he has been exposed as an imposter. The opening scene, with the sons rescuing their older family members, is echoed near the end, when the juniors are trapped and must be rescued by the seniors, who arrive just in time, in true cavalry style, accompanied by a genuine Scottish piper, blowing all opponents away with the formidable Queen Anne.
Although four screenwriters are credited the script was nearly entirely written by Fernando di Leo and Enzo dell'Aquila, from an idea by Duccio Tessari. The script is very lively and eventful, still the film has mainly become famous for two great scenes: the knife fight on a waterwheel, and a truly exciting train assault. It is during this train assault that Fernando Sancho nearly lost his head (and we one of the most colourful villains of the genre). Shot near Guadix, Sancho climbed on the train the moment it passed the iron bridge present in a lot of movies shot in the area (1). The scene was used for the movie and is a bit painful to watch, even if you know Sancho wasn't hurt. Still the production wasn't completely safeguarded from accidents: both Manuel Zarzo and Alberto Dell'Acqua broke several ribs but were forced to carry on due to the tight working scheme.
With most actors being either stuntmen or circus performers, the action scenes are very spectacular. Performances are adequate throughout. Robert Woods is very good in an unusual light-hearted role and the movie has at least two great villains: Leo Anchoriz as the evil Santillana, and Fernando Sancho as his clumsy right hand Miguel. In this movie Anchoriz is the spitting image of Jim Croce, so I expected him to tell every minute that he was bad bad Leroy Brown, the baddest man in the whole down town. Ennio Morricone makes full use of drums and bagpipes for one of the oddest scores in his career. The title song is a wonderful march that puts De Sousa to shame. The film was shot in the months of August and September 1965, for most part in Colmenar Viejo (near Madrid) and Guadix. According to a recent study by Carlo Gaberscek, The MacGregor ranch was built in Dehesa de Navilvillar, at seven kilometers from Colmenar Viejo, and used in several other movies (2).
Seven Guns for the MacGregors was an immediate success so a sequel was planned shortly afterwards. Robert Woods would not appear in it; the reason was Agata Flori, Woods' love interest in Seven Brothers: according to Woods she was a nice person, but even after two days practicing, she couldn't handle a gun.
Dir: Franco Giraldi - Cast: Robert Woods, Agata Flori, Alberto Dell'Acqua, Leo Anchoriz, Fernando Sancho, Jorge Rigaud, Nazzareno Zamperla, Perla Cristal, Cris Huerta, Antonio Molina Rojo - Music: Ennio Morricone
- (1) See:http://y-yasuda.net/around%20guadix2.htm (scroll down to: '7 Pistole per i MacGregor'
- (2) Marco Giusti, Dizionario Del Western All'Italiana