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Vera Cruz (1954) Poster

(1954)

Trivia

Gary Cooper was unimpressed by the script, pointing out that his character - a former Confederate colonel - would have been fighting for Maximilian instead of Juarez.
Clark Gable warned Gary Cooper not to work with Burt Lancaster, saying, "That young guy will blow you off the screen." Ironically, Gable himself later worked with Lancaster in Run Silent Run Deep (1958).
Burt Lancaster recalled that Gary Cooper would object to anything in the script that implied his character was anything other than good, and demand it be changed.
Gary Cooper was taking so much medication that he was impotent for the duration of filming. He also hated working with Sara Montiel, whom he claimed smelled bad and never washed her hair.
The film was shot entirely on location in Mexico. One day during a break in filming Charles Bronson and Ernest Borgnine decided to go to the nearest town for cigarettes. This meant saddling up in costume, sidearms and all, and riding to town. On the way the pair was spotted by a truck full of "federales"--Mexican federal police--who, mistaking them for bandits, stopped them and held them at gunpoint until representatives from the film company showed up to vouch for them.
This film is sometimes called the "first spaghetti western," due to its reputed influence on the Italian directors such as Sergio Leone who popularized the genre.
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.
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Burt Lancaster was quite happy to cede top billing to Gary Cooper, knowing that the older actor had more box-office pull than he did.
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Although portrayed by 54-year-old George Macready, the real Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico was only 34 when he died.
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Produced by Burt Lancaster's own production company for $1.7 million, it went on to become a sizeable hit, grossing over $11 million.
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For being made in the mid-1950s, this film has a quite fast cutting rate. In 90 minutes of action, it contains about 1130 edits and other transitions. This equates to an average shot length of just under five seconds.
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Eli Wallach has said that the Mexican government was so upset about the negative portrayal of Mexicans in the film that they insisted that the making of The Magnificent Seven (1960) be monitored by censors.
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One of the first major Hollywood films to be made on location in Mexico. Filmmaking legislation in Mexico meant that a local director had to be involved in the production in some capacity, though he wasn't actually used.
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First film released in the "SuperScope" wide-screen process. Shot at a conventional 1.37:1 aspect ratio, the film was cropped to 2:1 in post-production, given a CinemaScope-compatible (2x) squeeze and blown up to normal frame height. SuperScope was designed to achieve anamorphic prints from standard flat 35mm negatives. The MGM DVD approximates the 2:1 release print aspect ratio. SuperScope was the fore-runner of "Super 35".
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In her biography "Playing the Field," Mamie Van Doren claimed Burt Lancaster interviewed her for the role of the Countess and attempted to seduce her. She told him she did not wish to get the part in that way and that her mother was waiting for her outside in the car. Lancaster told her she was right and gave her the script to study, and although she officially auditioned, she didn't get the part.
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The Mexican authorities were appalled at the way their citizens were depicted in the film so any subsequent Hollywood productions had to conform to some strict rules. This explains why in The Magnificent Seven (1960), the locals are all wearing pristine white clothes.
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One of Robert Aldrich's personal favorites of his films, he particularly enjoyed the fact that it had a hero and an anti-hero.
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The third of four movies Gary Cooper made in Mexico.
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Gary Cooper was 52 at the time of filming, although his character was only supposed to be a couple of years older than Burt Lancaster's character. Joe Erin was meant to be 40, Lancaster's actual age.
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In his biography Ernest Borgnine reports that, during the shooting, Burt Lancaster brought his children on the set and all of them laughed at Jack Elam, because of his walleyed eye. Elam of course was upset because of this and he had a tough argument against Lancaster in a fierce fist fight.
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Closing credits epilogue: "Vera Cruz" was filmed entirely in Mexico.
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Screenwriter Borden Chase wrote this with John Wayne in mind.
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Director Robert Aldrich was so keen on this period of history that he planned to shoot a biopic of Emperor Maximilian. In 1964, he announced that he would begin filming after " The Flight of the Phoenix " but it failed to materialise.
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