After the American Civil War, mercenaries travel to Mexico to fight in their revolution for money. The former soldier and gentleman Benjamin Trane meets the gunman and killer Joe Erin and his men, and together they are hired by the Emperor Maximillian and the Marquis Henri de Labordere to escort the Countess Marie Duvarre to the harbor of Vera Cruz. Ben and Erin find that the stagecoach is transporting US$ 3,000,000.00 in gold hidden below the seat and they scheme to steal it. Along their journey, betrayals and incidents happen changing their initial intentions. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gary Cooper was badly hurt when he was struck by fragments from a bridge that had been blown up and the special-effects team had used too much explosives. See more »
Joe's saddle gun, a "new, Winchester repeating rifle", is an 1872 model; since the film is set "just after the American Civil War", to be correct, the gun should be a Henry "Yellowboy", circa 1864. (The earlier weapon had no wooden forearm stock and a brass receiver; the rifle Joe carries has a steel receiver and the wooden stock.) See more »
Opening credits prologue: As the American Civil War ended, another war was just beginning. The Mexican people were struggling to rid themselves of their foreign Emperor - - - Maximilian. Into this fight rode a handful of Americans - - - ex-soldiers, adventurers, criminals-- all bent on gain. They drifted South in small groups - - AND SOME CAME ALONE- See more »
A Classic Adventure; Mexico's Revolution, Gold and Romance
This unpretentious and incredibly influential western began as a vehicle for Burt Lancaster with his production company's executives. He was looking for work as the film industry was being murdered by Congress's seat tax and its new hastily-created TV networks and payments to people to make movies abroad instead of in the U.S. He hired long-in-the-tooth but screen-wise Gary Cooper to play opposite him, and a script was developed by three veteran writers--Borden case, Roland Kibbee and James R. Webb. Its storyline featured groups of gunmen heading south to serve for pay as Empreror Maximilian of Mexico tried to put down the native revolution against his corrupt government. There is a bang-up opening as Ben Trane, Cooper, shoots his injured horse and buys another from Joe Erin, Lancaster. They are chased by Mexican officers; Cooper wonders why and Joe tells him he's riding the Lieutenant's horse, which he himself had stolen earlier. Ben leaves Joe behind when there is only one horse unharmed between them; he rides into a town where the Erin gang are waiting. They are about to attack him en masse when Joe shows up, just as Ben has beaten up Ernest Borgnine. Others in the gang include Charles Bronson in an early role, Jack Elam and James McCallion., et al. The next problem, is to settle who will lead the Americanos, Joe or a rival, powerful Jack Lambeert. A gunfight settles that question. The new recruits are take by Cesar Romero and Henry Brandon, Maximilian's chief men, to meet the Emperor. George Macready plays the french-born Maximilian, beautifully as always, at a grand palace party, where the Yankees put on a shooting exhibition and the Emperor tries his hand as well. Meanwhile, they have encountered Sarita Montiel, stealing Ben's money, and General Ramirez, beautifully underplayed by Morris Ankrum, who asks them not to join the Emperor's army; he turns out to be the head of the revolution; they escape his well-planned trap by threatening some children, but at least they realize what they are getting into. Their first assignment is to escort Denise Darcel, a Countess, and her coach to safety. Of course she turns out to be carrying gold, to pay Maximilian's forces elsewhere. Joe and Ben want the gold, and eventually they get it. But then comes the reckoning--between a Southerner, a man who had lost everything in the Civil War in a lost cause, and a man who regards all "softness" as a weakness and even killed his own mentor, years before...Ben wins the shootout and decides to turn the money over to the revolution, and keep Sarita Montiel for his own prize. This is a very tight script, a favorite film with male and female moviegoers. It has many pluses other than the actors and the strong situational dialogue. Robert Aldrich's direction is clean, straightforward and keeps the action moving in between interesting dialogue exchanges. The first-rate cinematography is by Ernest Laszlo,the very good costumes by Norma, production design by Alfred Ybarra; Hugo Friedhofer composed the excellent music. In terms of the acting, which dominates half this otherwise outdoor film, Cooper succeeds by underplaying; Lancaster later said he himself had started the film on too-high a level, and learned lessons that served him for years from Cooper during this feature's filming. Darcel does not seem like a Countess but gives her part energy; lovely Montiel has an odd accent but is very strong. Borgnine and Elam do well, and Lambert and the rest of the gang all do well. Brandon, Romero and Macready as usual steal their scenes. All in all, a western that satisfies, does not look fifty years old and has no slow points, no real defects. This is the sort of film Hollywood youthful corporate types cannot make any more; and it inspired a generation of Italian filmmakers including Sergio Leone. It is an adventure that should live long in the minds and hearts of fans of the Western genre.
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