During the Rif War in Morocco, the French Foreign Legion's outpost of Tarfa is threatened by Khalif Hussein's tribes but Sergeant Mike Kincaid devises a plan of survival until the arrival of French reinforcements.
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 three million U.S. dollars 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
Produced by Burt Lancaster's own production company for 1.7 million dollars, it went on to become a sizeable hit, grossing over eleven million dollars. See more »
During the rifle marksmanship display at Maximillians ball, they use Pittsburghs rifle, a winchester 1894 which did not exist in 1866. Also the Americans carry colt SAA pistols not available until 1873. 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 »
The first 20 minutes of Vera Cruz are excellent, starting with the great score by Friedhofer and the meeting of Cooper's and Lancaster's characters. The most striking scene is in a plaza, with a great gunfight followed with the meetings with the main players in the plot including a couple of hundred revolutionaries and Cesar Romero, whose character serves the Emperor of Mexico, Maximillian. This initial sequence of scenes are very well done, have a tough and cynical feel about them, and seem a little ahead of their time. After this point the movie becomes a more typical 1950s big budget adventure film. It remains entertaining, but looses the sharpness that these first striking minutes had. Only at the very end of the film does it regain it's edge. It could have been an excellent film, but is still entertaining and well worth watching.
Cooper and Lancaster are good as always and their usual on-screen personas compliment each other well.
The Mexican locations were great.
This film was very influential on the Italian filmmakers that would go on to create the spaghetti western. Stylistically the influence can be scene most in plaza scene. The plot filled with multiple double crosses and betrayals will also seem familiar to fans of the eurowestern, as does the primary character motivation -- greed. Also, this film may explain the large number of SW that involve Maximillian, Jaurez, and soldiers of fortune manipulating them.
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