Vera Cruz (1954)

 

Director:  Robert Aldrich.

Starring:  Gary Cooper (Benjamin Trane), Burt Lancaster (Joe Erin), Denise Darcel (Countess Marie Duvarre), Cesar Romero (Marquis Henri de Labordere), Sara Montiel (Nina), George Macready (Emperor Maximilian), Ernest Borgnine (Donnegan), Morris Ankrum (General Ramrez), Henry Brandon (Capt. Danette), Charles Bronson (Pittsburgh), Jack Lambert (Charlie), Jack Elam (Tex), James McCallion (Little-Bit), James Seay (Abilene), Archie Savage (Ballard).

 

Americans try to steal the gold while escorting a countess to Vera Cruz and Emperor Maximilian; Juaristas also want the gold 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

The French Emperor Maximilian sits on the throne of Mexico.  The Juaristas under Benito Juarez want to throw the French out and to execute the French emperor.  Amoral American gun Joe Erin (Burt Lancaster) is down in Mexico leading a gang of American gunmen working for Maximilian for pay, including stars Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Charles Bronson.

Another, more moral American, is also down in Mexico looking to make some money.  Former Southern Colonel Benjamin Trane (Gary Cooper) needs money to save his plantation in reconstruction Louisiana.   

Trane and Erin hook up in a very uneasy friendship in order to get the gold from a wagon train they are escorting to Emperor Maximilian.  But a funny thing happened along the way: Trane starts falling for the beautiful Juartista woman Nina (Sara Montiel).  With three different parties wanting the gold, the Americans, the Juaristas and Maximilian, the question is, which party will win the day and take the gold. 

Cooper always seems to be Cooper, always plays the same or similar part the same way: strong, silent, tough guy.  Lancaster also plays to type, the always charming, devil-may-care character.  But at least you get what you pay for.  Sara Montiel is very lovely and Denise Darcel is not bad either.  And you know you are going to get good performances from the classic bad guys: Borgnine, Elam and Bronson. 

Entertaining western with an historical background.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.    

 


Historical Background:

 

See Juarez (1939).

 

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