Vera Cruz - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Vera Cruz Reviews

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½ August 7, 2016
Huge fun

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, two American soldiers of fortune (Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster) become mercenaries in Mexico's civil war on the side of Emperor Maximilian (George Macready) and are assigned to escort a beautiful countess (Denise Darcel,) an elegantly treacherous Marquis (Cesar Romero,) and several king's ransoms worth of hidden treasure across rebel-held territory to the port of Vera Cruz. Intrigue, betrayal, and battles ensue.

This 1954 spectacular by Robert Aldrich (who would go on to direct over two dozen other films, many forgettable, but including such classics as Kiss Me Deadly, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Killing of Sister George, The Dirty Dozen, and The Flight of the Phoenix) is ostensibly a Western, but it's really a rollicking, old fashioned swashbuckler wearing a cowboy hat. Lancaster is irresistible as the lovable rogue with his incandescently wicked grin (he looks like he must have gotten his teeth whitened between every take,) and his chemistry with the stoic, rather solemn good guy Cooper is constantly beguiling. Like any swash buckler it pays more attention to making the action engaging rather than realistic, but if you make a certain suspension of disbelief, the film is great fun.

Vera Cruz's impressive Mexican landscape photography, vividly realized rural Mexican settings, and its band of scruffy American desperadoes, all together are very similar to a much grimmer film, The Wild Bunch (1969 Sam Peckinpah,) which I suspect it may have influenced.

Unfortunately the image on the MGM standard DVD, which I saw it on, isn't very good: the print seems free of spots or streaks but it's a little blurry, especially in the distance shots. The sound track is fine. MGM more recently put out a Blu-Ray edition which may be better. Unrated, but I'd say a PG-13.
August 30, 2015
Tough little western from director Robert Aldrich. Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster head south of the border during the Mexican Civil War to hire themselves out to Maximilian I during the Franco-Mexican War. Cooper is there for more noble of purposes to take care of his family back home following the Civil War. Lancaster, on the other hand is our for more mercenary of reasons, looking to make a quick buck and having no real loyalty to anyone. Made about fifteen years before "The Wild Bunch" and pre-dating the first spaghetti westerns, I do believe this film holds a place in western history of having a lead character who is a real anti-hero in the same way as Pike Bishop or Man With No Name. The Anthony Mann westerns around this same time were a bit different and more gritty than other pre-war westerns, but they even Mann's films still followed the white hat black hat simple view of characterization and storytelling. On the downside, this film does have some draggy parts that hold it back from being a classic, but it's a solid western and I do think it deserves more credit for being somewhat of a trailblazer for the revisionist western movement. And you also get Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson in supporting roles as no good thugs.
½ January 23, 2015
Not a bad western. Lancaster was a bit over the top, but it made for a good contrast with soft spoken Cooper.
November 8, 2014
Great cast! However, the movie is very boring and lacks direction. This movie manages to go no where, despite the unbelievably talented cast!
½ October 1, 2014
An interesting "western". Not really a western in the traditional sense in that it isn't set in the US, but in Mexico, and the "cowboys" are really mercenaries, hired by the opposing sides in the Mexican war of 1866.

On that note, the movie is quite interesting from an historical perspective, in that it deals with the relatively unknown Franco-Mexican War of 1866.

Good plot, using some of the actual characters from history (Emperor Maximilian, for one).

Solid performances from Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster in the lead roles. It was a sort of changing of the guard, as Gary Cooper's career was past its peak, and Lancaster's was taking off. Also features some later stars in early-careers: Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson. Neither are particularly good (though Bronson never was much good, acting-wise).

Entertaining.
April 1, 2014
Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster with a great supporting cast make for an average western.
½ March 17, 2014
A noir tale folded into a south of the border western - at the leading edge of the wave of morally ambiguous Westerns. Burt Lancaster produced the film and plays the less honorable (much less honorable) of the two leads. Cooper isn't always at his best here, but effective anyway. Lancaster is a treat in his villainous role.
½ March 11, 2014
Cooper and Lancaster sporting a disarming but treacherous grin throughout--Cracking 50's twisted Western!!
June 29, 2013
Apart from some amusing double-hammy acting by Burt Lancaster, Vera Cruz is pretty humdrum. The plot is perfectly linear, there's a lot of shooting, horses rolling over and forgettable music. On the plus side, it's short, amusing at times and you do see some Aztec pyramids which makes a change. 6.75/10
June 20, 2013
Nel 1866, nel ben mezzo dell'Impero di Massimiliano d'Asburgo, l'ex colonnello Ben Trane (Gary Cooper, lo Sceriffo Willy Kane di "Mezzogiorno di Fuoco") si unisce ad un gruppo di fuorilegge per scortare la contessa francese Duvarre fino al porto di Vera Cruz. Durante il viaggio Trane si accorgerŕ che nel fondo della carrozza in cui alloggia la donna vi č nascosto un tesoro (rubato ai messicani) che dev'essere apparentemente spedito in Europa. Quando perň gli altri mercenari scopriranno il malloppo insorgeranno le conflittualitŕ nello stesso gruppo di avventurieri. Trattasi di una delle opere piů commerciali di Robert Aldrich, ancora distante dalle sue perizie registiche avvenire, ma giŕ ben preparato nel dirigere adeguatamente le avvincenti messe in scena degli scontri a fuoco (spettacolari nella loro lavorazione manifatturiera) ed i piccoli intrecci sentimentali, grazie anche ad una fotografia probante ed acuminata. Non č "Sentieri Selvaggi" ma piacerŕ agli amanti del genere.
½ June 6, 2013
Coolest damn western I've seen in a really long time. I'd heard a lot about Burt Lancaster in this one, and he lived up to the hype.
½ April 20, 2013
gary cooper spoiled this one. bad acting, bad personality. really incongruent. thank god for Burt
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2013
There's 3 mil in gold in the offing, travelling only a coupla miles in post-American Civil War Mexico, where many ex-soldiers now ply their trade as gun-for-hires. So it is that the Coop, former Southern man of means runs into typical carpetbaggin' Northern rogue Lancaster and uneasily team together in a play for the moolah. Do they trust each other? Okay, so what if you know that there's a gunfight waiting at the end of the piece right from the start, Aldrich throws in so many twists and turns that its well worth the ride.
½ January 8, 2013
An instant classic with treasure hunting, double crossing and pre-spaghetti western elements that Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster give life to oh-so-brilliant.
July 7, 2012
My first Gary Cooper western and I see why he was the man before Wayne and Eastwood. Very dated plot and character writing however Burt Lancaster plays a great villain with the whitest teeth ever. The interplay between him and Cooper makes the movie.
½ June 18, 2012
â~Vera Cruzâ(TM) is a stylishly shot though somewhat stereotypical western about a group of Americans recruited by the Emperor Maximilian to help escort a countess to the port of Vera Cruz. One of those Americans, Joe Erin, is played by a smiling Burt Lancaster as a smarmy, greedy, selfish, schemer who lives by the following motto, which he took from a man who ran a gambling join in Laredo whom he later murdered: âDonâ(TM)t take any chances you donâ(TM)t hafta, donâ(TM)t trust anybody you donâ(TM)t hafta trust and donâ(TM)t do no favours you donâ(TM)t have to do.â? Erinâ(TM)s is the most cynical possible world view and when he discovers the three million dollars worth of gold under the floorboards of the stagecoach meant to buy more troops and supplies for the increasingly tenuous Mexican emperor which is the true cargo heâ(TM)s been enlisted to protect he immediately begins to plot a way to steal the gold. With him is Ben Trane, an ex-Confederate soldier who, like Joe, has come to Mexico to earn his stake but unlike Joe has some feeling for human dignity which makes him vulnerable to sympathizing with the native Juaristas who are fighting against the European born and supported Emperor Maximilian. I canâ(TM)t even begin to explain all of the scheming and plotting that goes on among the Americans, the Mexicans and the members of the Emperorâ(TM)s court and itâ(TM)s frankly difficult to keep track of all the alliances and double crossing. But it all comes down to the kind of shoot-out that Sergio Leone put under the microscope a few years later in classics like â~Once Upon a Time in the West.â(TM) This is the source material for later revisionist Westerns which have more depth and more focused themes. Itâ(TM)s all here, from gunplay, to shooting contests, to pinned-down wagon trains. Erin helpfully wears black throughout the film, just in case his casual taking of child hostages doesnâ(TM)t clue the audience into his fundamentally evil nature, but Lancaster has a lot of fun playing this bad guy who has a sort of pure unadulterated love of gold. Gary Cooperâ(TM)s Ben Trane balances things out with his values which are grounded in humanity while the court of Maximilian is decadent and riding for a fall. Some of the direction rises above the material, like a shot of Erinâ(TM)s black hat foregrounded in front of a panorama of white clad Mexican revolutionaries, vividly cutting off this greedy, selfish character from the brotherhood of man, and the whole film was shot in Mexico making for an authentic setting and atmosphere for this story of greed and betrayal. But itâ(TM)s an otherwise representative 1950s Western that doesnâ(TM)t offer much in the way of originality in theme, character or plot.
½ June 17, 2012
This is a very good western with Lancaster and Cooper in their normal roles.
May 4, 2012
Un western porte par le talent de ses deux acteurs principaux. Le charisme de Gary Cooper et le sourire Colgate de Burt Lancaster. Grandiose.
December 3, 2011
A great film, Brilliantly stylized and paced, not to mention cynical as hell.
½ September 18, 2011
Better than average, one of Lancaster's better performances.
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