Vera Cruz (1954) – Super Western

As part of finding the Grandeur-worthy Westerns for Movie Rob‘s Genre Grandeur series (head on over to his page if you want to join), I’ve pulled out a whole pile of DVDs from my collection, hoping I’ll get through a fair number of them.

Vera Cruz is one of the westerns my parents had in their Super 8 collection. I always enjoyed watching it and must admit, haven’t seen it for years (10 years, according to my geeky little movie/DVD database I have). Re-watching movies after such a period of time always leaves me feeling a little like it is a new one – purely because I forget some of the scenes and dialogue.

Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster star in this one, together with Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson, amongst others, in smaller roles. Two drifters, Ben Trane (Cooper) and Joe Erin (Lancaster) form an uneasy friendship as they hire on to serve Mexican Emperor Maximilian‘s (George Macready) soldiers, lead by Marquis Henri de Labordere (Cesar Romero), to escort Countess Duvarre (Denise Darcel) to the city of Veracruz. Naturally, things are not so straightforward with lots of back-stabbing and ulterior motives all around. Plenty of good shootouts ensue.

Having been filmed and set in its entirety in Mexico (as per the closing credits), it brings across a different feel from the “typical” Western in having lots of music and fiestas. This is wonderfully juxtaposed with the elegant ball held by Emperor Maximilian.

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Likewise, the two ladies of the story, the Countess and Nina (Sarita / Sara Montiel) contrast each other. I absolutely love the scene with Nina driving the supply wagon out of the ambush. I suppose this is to be expected as our leading men likewise are not similar at all: Ben Trane is the former Confederate soldier who appears to be calm and collected whereas gunslinger Joe Erin is the dirty scoundrel with his bunch of just as dirty scoundrels. Oh, the scenes that show these differences…just fantastic.

What always amuses is the big toothy grin provided by a dust covered Joe Erin. He’s introduced to us in another great scene where he sells someone else’s horse to Ben Trane. Perfect character summary I’d say. But, make no mistake, Ben Trane isn’t totally good guy either. As to be expected, all involved have a reason for their supposed support of the Marquis and Countess.veracruz2

So…super Western directed by Robert Aldrich, despite the sometimes “clipped” dialogue. Almost, almost Grandeur-worthy. A whole lot of fun with great one-liners and/or more comical scenes. Ernest Borgnine also has a knack of bringing fun to the screen. And even Charles Bronson makes me smile as he convinces the band to play on at gunpoint.

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17 comments

  1. I’m another one who hasn’t seen this, despite this terrific cast. Not sure why that is, but I’ll be on the lookout for it.

    Do you really have a database of which movies you’ve seen? That’s a great idea! I’ve been thinking of starting one for movies I’ve read about (such as Vera Cruz) so if I end up blogging about them, I can link back to the original blog that reviewed it. My haphazard method now is to look up the movies on YouTube, bookmark the page, then weeks later I think, “Who recommended this one?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad I could send another movie your way. It is quite fun.
      And yes…I have a database going for the DVD and Blu-Rays I own, in which I track Title, Country, Language, Year, Number of times watched (each year), actors, where purchased, how much, when purchased, genre, DVD/Blu-Ray barcode and the list goes on. It’s a geeky thing but is fun.
      I do, however, keep track of everything I’ve seen (as far as I can remember) on IMDB. I also have a To Watch list on IMDB. I’m such a geek! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        1. IMDB is very easy to set up – you just create a profile (an Amazon account also works), then all you do is navigate to the movie you want to add, and to the left of the title name you’ll see a banner-type thing. You then simply click that and it adds it to your watch list. If you hover over that a fly-out with your other lists will appear (To Watch) and you can click the relevant list. You can create lists in your profile area (top right of IMDB you’ll see your name and from there a Your Lists link). You can also add comments if you go to the actual list and add a movie from there – you could keep track of your referring blogs through that. Hope this helps.
          As for my DVD/Blu-Ray database, I’m on 476 DVD/Blu-Rays. My Watch List is “only” 1690 movies (naturally I may be missing some that I can’t remember).

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised I haven’t seen Vera Cruz. Like Fiction Fan I grew up watching Westerns, in fact watching Red River at my grandmother’s is one of my earliest memories.
    Burt Lancaster is always great, especially in Westerns, I enjoy watching him in everything from Apache to Ulzana’s Raid.

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  3. A fine western indeed, firmly rooted in the classical era of the genre and respecting all the conventions, not least in its satisfying resolution, and also looking forward to the more amoral films that would come as the spaghetti western rose to prominence during the following decade.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’d still put M7 in the classic era though, the motivations of the characters are still essentially noble. The real change kicked in after Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country, arguably the last of the truly classical pieces. Peckinpah himself is very much a transitional figure of course, straddling the two eras and keeping a foot in both camps. If that crossover era interests you, then I recommend checking out Rio Conchos, where you can really see a shift taking place.

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