I saw a discussion on Twitter this morning about Community and The Magnificent Seven:
@jujujulieta awwww, bummer. If you were to try Magnificent Seven, would Joel be Steve McQueen or Yul Brynner?— Scott (@Zev04) April 30, 2012
The answer to that seems obvious to me: Joel is Yul, because Brenner played the main character and received top billing. But that got me thinking about which study group member would be which Magnificent Seven character. They match up pretty well!
- Jeff is Chris (Brenner), the veteran gunslinger. Not only is Chris the main character, he put together the group and was its de facto leader. Plus, check out this promotional still from The Magnificent Seven. Blue shirt, jeans, black hat: exactly how Jeff was dressed in "Introduction to Statistics."
- Britta is Vin (Steve McQueen), who signed up after he went broke gambling. Britta's not a gambler as far as we know, but she's bad with her money in other ways. Plus, she loves leather jackets, and Steve McQueen could wear the hell out of a leather jacket.
- Polish/Palestinian Abed is Irish/Mexican Bernardo O'Reilley (Charles Bronson). The characters don't have much in common beyond that, but hey, it's not an exact science.
- Shirley is Britt (James Coburn), the quiet cowboy who was deadly with a knife. Granted, Shirley's not that quiet, but her outward good cheer masks a steely inner resolve. And she will cut you.
- Annie is Chico (Horst Buchholz), the inexperienced hothead. She's the youngest member of the group, eager to prove herself. Maybe she's not much of a hothead, but she has tendencies in that direction.
- Troy is Lee (Robert Vaughn), the gunfighter who lost his nerve. This parallels what happened to Troy in high school, when he injured himself doing a keg flip because he couldn't take the pressure of playing in front of a scout.
- Pierce is Harry (Brad Dexter). Harry signs on because he believes there's treasure to be found; when it becomes clear that's not the case, he leaves, but ultimately returns for the final battle. This is essentially similar to Pierce's behavior in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"—he leaves when the cookies are gone, but comes back to continue helping Abed find the meaning of Christmas.
When I was originally posited these to @Zev04, he suggested Chang as Calvera (Eli Wallach), the head bandit, and Dean Pelton as a villager. Chang certainly works as the villain of the piece, but his double-dealing in "A Fistful of Paintballs" suggests another character: Sotero (Rico Alaniz), the villager who invited Calvera and his gang back into the village in hopes of avoiding a battle. That leaves us without a Calvera, though. Dean Spreck? Vice Dean Laybourne? Mike the bully? None are as satisfying as Chang.
As for the Dean, he's got to be Miguel (Natividad Vacío), the villager who was so excited about learning to use a gun that he couldn't shoot straight. And of course Leonard is the Old Man (Vladimir Sokoloff).