Ern Berck is the blacksmith at an anonymous town shown in the opening scenes of the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven. You never see him, he never speaks. But somehow you know he’s there, with fire and iron, making stuff.
The Magnificent Seven is a 1960 American Western film directed by John Sturges. It is an Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai.
The movie stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, Brad Dexter, and James Coburn. They portray a group of seven gunfighters hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a bunch of marauding bandits and their leader, played by Eli Wallach. The legendary musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein.
Sadly, all of the original seven are dead now. Robert Vaughn was the last to go in 2016, at 83. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant. About time.
From The Making of The Magnificent Seven …
There is no bank, and the town is anonymous, no signs announcing the name. There is the Belmar House hotel and a saloon called 5 Leagues. William Johnson is the proprietor of the livery stables, Ern Berck is the blacksmith and P. Garret owns the general store. There is a drugstore and a shop selling stoves and tinware.
The undertaker Chamlee has ornate signage above his door. Mexican influence is limited to a cantina called Los Toritos (little peppers), a shop selling cerveza (beer), signs at the stockyard and the locomotive carrying the imprimatur of a Mexican railway. The impression is this town caters to foreigners passing through but not residents.
— Brian Hannan
Director John Sturges was eager to cast Steve McQueen in the picture, having just worked with him on the 1959 film Never So Few, but McQueen could not get a release from Dick Powell, who produced McQueen’s hit TV series Wanted Dead or Alive.
On the advice of his agent, McQueen, an expert race car driver, staged a car accident and claimed that he couldn’t work on his series because he had suffered a whiplash injury and had to wear a neck brace. During the interval required for his “recuperation,” he was free to appear in The Magnificent Seven.