Bernardo O’Reilly, a gunfighter of Irish-Mexican descent, is a prominent figure among The Magnificent Seven, and one of the models of a quintessential man as I explained in a recent post (in case, you are interested, it happens to be the one before the one before this one…). Played by that characteristic tough guy, Charles Bronson, O’Reilly has some of the best dialogues in the film. I did not put them in that post when writing about him to keep down the length and eschew distractions. And as I promised, here are some of them.
The first appearance…. (Chris (Yul Brynner) is the man who puts the Seven together)
Chris: Morning. I’m a friend of Harry Luck’s. He tells me you’re broke.
O’Reilly: [chopping wood] Nah. I’m doing this because I’m an eccentric millionaire.
Chris: There’s a job for six men, watching over a village, south of the border.
O’Reilly: How big’s the opposition?
Chris: Thirty guns.
O’Reilly: I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.
Vin: We heard you got that Salinas thing cleaned up in five weeks.
O’Reilly: They paid me $800 for that one.
Vin: And Johnson County in four weeks.
O’Reilly: They paid me $500 for that one.
Vin: You cost a lot.
O’Reilly: [proudly] Yeah, I cost a lot.
Chris: The pay is $20.
[Chris and Vin turn and walk away]
O’Reilly: [Calling after them] $20? Right now, that’s a lot.
And when The Seven are on the mission…. See the exasperation when a patient man loses his cool (happens to me also sometimes)
[O’Reilly is teaching the villagers how to shoot]
O’Reilly: Miguel, didn’t I tell you to squeeze? Hm? Just like when you’re milking a goat, Miguel.
Miguel: It’s that I get excited!
O’Reilly: Well don’t get excited! Now this time squeeze. Slowly, but squeeze. All right now, squeeze.
O’Reilly: *Squeeze*! I’ll tell you what. Don’t shoot the gun. Take the gun like this, and you use it like a club, all right?
O’Reilly also befriends the children in the village… (the exchange reminds me of some of my friends too)
Village Boy 1: If you get killed, we take the rifle and avenge you.
Village Boy 2: And we see to it there’s always fresh flowers on your grave.
O’Reilly: That’s a mighty big comfort.
Village Boy 2: I told you he’ll appreciate that!
O’Reilly: Well, now don’t you kids be too disappointed if your plans don’t work out.
Village Boy 1: We won’t. If you stay alive, we’ll be just as happy.
Village Boy 2: Maybe even happier.
Village Boy 1: Maybe.
But O’Reilly is not content to bask in the adulation only… Here he teaches them an important truth.
Village Boy 2: We’re ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards.
O’Reilly: Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That’s why I never even started anything like that… that’s why I never will.
And when The Seven first capture Calvera, the bandit leader (played by Eli Wallach)
Chris: Nah leave him alone. It’s a free country.
O’Reilly: And it’s his.
The pitched battle between the Seven and the bandits is drawing to a close. Chris calls out: Bernardo O’Reilly. (It’s the first time we’ve heard the full name, otherwise it’s just O’Reilly).
O’Reilly [turns around]: “Yes, that’s right, Bernardo O’Reilly. Mexican on one side, Irish on the other, me caught in the middle.”
Wounded many times earlier too, O’Reilly tries to save a bunch of kids who wander out into the middle of the fighting and gets cut down in the cross fire, becoming one of the four of the band who lose their lives in the venture and are thankfully spared the “gratitude” of the villagers after the bandits have been defeated. (How I long for the same…. an end like O’Reilly’s, that is).