Edmond P. DeRousse

His Name Is Chris

It was 1960 and I was ten years old when it happened. I met a legendary man named Chris. He showed up on the big screen in my local small town movie theatre and brought six more extraordinary men with him.

His legend began with a mission in a small poor Mexican village. The village is going to be raided for its harvest by bandits. The villagers are desperate but unwilling and unable to fight the bandits. They hire a professional gunfighter to help defend their village. That gunfighter recruits six others to help protect the village against an overwhelming marauding force. The gunfighter’s name is “Chris”. 

Sounds like a scenario from the 1960 Western movie The Magnificent Seven. It is. The idea, though, was inspired by a Japanese movie made six years before.  

The title was Seven Samurai. Its story takes place in 1586 A.D. That story’s theme was of a poor small mountain village in Japan under attack by bandits. The villagers recruit seven unemployed samurai to defend them against their attackers. The seven samurai teach the villagers how to defend themselves for three small meals a day. The movie’s climax is a giant battle when the 40 bandits attack the village. 

In The Magnificent Seven, the idea is the same. The setting, the numbers and, of course, the weapons are different. The leader of the group is Chris who is the functional equivalent of Kambei Shimada, leader of the “Seven Samurai”. In fact, it was Yul Brynner who contacted producer, Walter Mirisch, with the idea of remaking the famous samurai movie.

Chris Larabee Adams was the leader of the “Magnificent Seven” in 4 movies and a television series in this US adaptation. Most people in the movie knew him as Chris. Very seldom did I hear him introduced or even talked about by any other name. He was simply “Chris”.

Yul Brynner portrayed Chris Adams in the original 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven and the 1966 follow up movie Return of the Seven. The franchise generated two more movies and a television series. George Kennedy portrayed Chris Adams in 1969’s Guns of the Magnificent Seven. Lee Van Cleef was Chris Adams in 1972’s The Magnificent Seven Ride. The iconic gunfighter was last played by Michael Bien in the 1998 Television series The Magnificent Seven.. 

So, who is Chris Adams? Those of us familiar with The Magnificent 7 know him as a professional gunfighter in that classic Western franchise. He is the example of the “Western hero”. Adjectives that describe him would be uncompromising, single minded, independent, strong, loyal, and honorable.   

He has a vast knowledge of gunfighters everywhere, and they recognize him. As a result, he has little problem getting them to join his group. Some, if they have heard he is searching, go looking for him.

He is a well-known gunman with nerves of steel. Regardless of who plays Chris Adams, the character has an appearance of authority and calmness. No one has a hold on him, and he steps aside for no man. 

Chris Adams is a Mercenary for what he believes is right. As such he will accept a lowly paid righteous mission on the spur of a moment. A mission such as protecting poor farmers from marauding invaders. He charges 600 dollars for all seven in his team. The missions are considered impossible. If won, all know they will go out in a blaze of glory with most of them dead.

The most outstanding dynamic, for me, about the Magnificent 7 movies was not the battles, or the mercenary mission but the character, Chris Adams. He had faults. He had flaws. Yet he was a man of principals and did not falter when he stood up for them.   

Yul Brenner is, for me, Chris Adams. The 1973 Science Fiction thriller West World creators must have thought so too. The android gunslinger character was played by Yul Brenner and inspired by his Chris Adams character.    

On my channel 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQmpqQJ9mL8   His Name Is Chris