Vera Cruz (1954)

Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel, Cesar Romero,
During the Mexican Rebellion of 1866, an unsavory group of American adventurers are hired by the forces of Emporer Maximilian to escort a countess to Vera Cruz.
  • 7.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Roland Kibbee, James R. Webb, Borden Chase, Writer:
  • Robert Aldrich, Director:
  • James Hill, Producer:
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9 / 10

Cooper and Lancaster sporting a disarming but treacherous grin throughout...

The middle fifties saw the production of an astonishing variety of Westerns of high quality... Robert Aldrich followed "Apache" in 1954 with a cheerful, action-packed adventure called "Vera Cruz," which starred Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster sporting a disarming but treacherous grin throughout... Its chief highlight is a display of sharp-shooting in which Cooper and Lancaster demonstrate the effectiveness of the rifles they are trying to sell to the Emperor Maximilian (George Macready) by snuffing out the torch flames ranged round the palace balustrade...

"Vera Cruz" opens during the Mexican revolution in 1866 where two American adventurers decide to join forces and fight for whichever side pay them the most... The saucy Sarita Montiel, who has fallen for Cooper, implores them to fight for the rebels, while Cesar Romero, an aid to the Emperor Maximilian, asks them to fight on his side...

At a ball in the sumptuous Chapultepec Palace, the pair meets the vivacious Denise Darcel who appears as a colorful but doublecrossing French Countess, and soon agrees to escort her on the hazardous journey to Vera Cruz... Later, she informs them that she is actually transporting a gold shipment to the Emperor's forces... Shortly after, she offers to steal the gold and split it with them...

In spite of the strong presence of Gary Cooper who lines up on the side of the Juaristas, Burt Lancaster steals the show as the smiling, black-dressed American adventurer, unable to forget Mexico's shining gold...

"Vera Cruz", with excellent supporting cast, is filmed on location in Mexico... Cooper and Lancaster well know that when one outdraws and shoots the other, one is the "quick" and the other, the "dead." Ernest Laszlo photography, in SuperScope and Technicolor, captures well the Mexican scenery with glorious shots of Mexico City's famous Chapultepec Castle, and the pyramids of Teotihuacan...

Sarita Montiel whose sensuality draws lustful aggression from Bronson's peripheral tough-guy, Pittsburgh, flourished more beauty to this exciting Western...

7 / 10

Sensational Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster as two gunslingers involved in plot to seize a gold shipment in revolutionary Mexico

Entertaining , moving and violent film set in Mexican Revolution in which a pair of two-fisted characters confront enemies in diverse sides . During the Mexican Rebellion of 1866 , an unsavory group of American adventurers are hired by the forces of Emperor Maximilian to escort a countess to Vera Cruz . Napoleon III, emperor of France , creates in Mexico a vassal state governed by Maximilian (George Mcready) of France . The French troops control the country and the fate of its inhabitants . There soon emerges a rebel leader , Benito Juarez, whose supporters took the name of "juaristas" . Two soldiers of fortune find themselves in different camps , as "Benjamin Trane" (Gary Cooper was 52 at the time of filming, although his character was only supposed to be a couple of years older than Burt's role) is the good guy and "Joe Erin" (Burt Lancaster) is the bad guy , both of whom along with their motley group (Ernest Borgnine , Jack Lambert , Jack Elam , Charles Bronson) decide serve the Emperor Maximilian . Meanwhile , Benjamin Trane falls in love for a beautiful Mexican rebel (Spanish Sara Montiel) . During a party celebrated by Marquis Henri de Labordere (Cesar Romero) they meet the Countess "Marie Duvarre" (Denise Darcel) , both gunmen must protect her from possible attacks of the revolutionaries . In fact , they are planning seize a stagecoach filled with valuable gold . The picture was partially based on historical events , as Maximilian was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on 10 April 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy. Many foreign governments, including that of the United States, refused to recognize his administration. This helped to ensure the success of republican forces led by Benito Juárez, and Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867.

Interesting as well as action-packed Western full of thrills, emotion , intrigue , shootouts and marvelous outdoors from Mexico . The two giants , Cooper and Lancaster , battle in the biggest spectacle of them all . Anthological performance by Burt Lancaster is fabulous , his character would influence profoundly in Spaghetti Western ; he steals every scene as the black-dressed , smiling gunfighter . As the roles are more cynical , selfish and unscrupulous than traditional western . In fact , this film is sometimes called the "first spaghetti western," due to its reputed influence on the Italian directors such as Sergio Leone who popularized the genre . The screenplay by Roland Kibbee and James R. Webb is pretty basic but holds your interest until the exciting climatic Shotdown . Rousing as well as emotive musical score by the classical Hugo Friedhofer . Gorgeous cinematography by Ernest Laszlo , being the first film to be made in the SuperScope process. Luxurious sets and spectacular production design and one of the first major Hollywood films to be made on location in Mexico . Film-making legislation in Mexico meant that a local director had to be involved in the production in some capacity, though he wasn't actually used ; however , the Mexican authorities were appalled at the way their citizens were depicted in the film so any subsequent Hollywood productions had to conform to some strict rules .

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Robert Aldrich and produced by Burt Lancaster's own production company for $1.7 million, it went on to become a sizeable hit, grossing over $11 million. It was Robert Aldrich's personal favourite , he particularly enjoyed the fact that it had a hero and an anti-hero. Aldrich directed a considerable plethora of genres but almost all of his films contained a subversive undertone and violent scenes . He was an expert on warlike (Dirty Dozen , The Angry Hills , Attack , Ten seconds to hell) and Western (The Frisko kid , Ulzana's raid, Apache , Veracruz , The last sunset) . Raing : Above average , it's a must see and a standout in its genre .