IMDb > They Came to Cordura (1959)
They Came to Cordura
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They Came to Cordura (1959) More at IMDbPro »

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They Came to Cordura -- A dramatic western set in 1916 Mexico with Gary Cooper as an Army officer accused of cowardice and sent to find five men worthy of a Medal of Honor. Rita Hayworth is the shady lady accused of treasonwho he meets along the way.


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Up 19% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Ivan Moffat (screenplay) &
Robert Rossen (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for They Came to Cordura on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
June 1959 (USA) See more »
Slashing Story of a Desert Warrior Who Fought His Way From HELL TO GLORY !
An army major, himself guilty of cowardice, is asked to recommended soldiers for the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Mexican Border Incursion of 1916. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
(3 articles)
User Reviews:
A good film with a very subtle message See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Gary Cooper ... Major Thomas Thorn

Rita Hayworth ... Adelaide Geary

Van Heflin ... Sgt. John Chawk

Tab Hunter ... Lt. William Fowler

Richard Conte ... Cpl. Milo Trubee

Michael Callan ... Pvt. Andrew Hetherington

Dick York ... Pvt. Renziehausen
Robert Keith ... Colonel Rogers
Carlos Romero ... Arreaga
Jim Bannon ... Capt. Paltz (as James Bannon)

Edward Platt ... Colonel DeRose
Maurice Jara ... Mexican Federale
Sam Buffington ... 1st Correspondent
Arthur Hanson ... 2nd Correspondent
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Clem Fuller ... (uncredited)
Wendell Hoyt ... Cavalry Trooper (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Rossen 
Writing credits
Ivan Moffat (screenplay) &
Robert Rossen (screenplay)

Glendon Swarthout (novel)

Produced by
William Goetz .... producer
Original Music by
Elie Siegmeister 
Cinematography by
Burnett Guffey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
William A. Lyon 
Production Design by
Cary Odell (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Cary Odell 
Set Decoration by
Frank Tuttle  (as Frank A. Tuttle)
Costume Design by
Jean Louis (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Clay Campbell .... makeup artist
Helen Hunt .... hair stylist
Armiene .... hairdresser (uncredited)
Ben Lane .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Robert J. Schiffer .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Carter De Haven Jr. .... assistant director: second unit (as Carter DeHaven Jr.)
Milton Feldman .... assistant director
James Curtis Havens .... second unit director (as James Havens)
R. Robert Rosenbaum .... assistant director (uncredited)
David Salven .... assistant director (uncredited)
Roger Slager .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Ray Bassell .... lead man (uncredited)
Irving Goldfarb .... props (uncredited)
Edward Goldstein .... props (uncredited)
Harry Hopkins .... props (uncredited)
David Horowitz .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
John P. Livadary .... recording supervisor (as John Livadary)
George Cooper .... sound mixer (uncredited)
Sol Jaffe .... mikeman (uncredited)
Harold Lee .... recordist (uncredited)
Ernest Reichert .... sound editor (uncredited)
George Ronconi .... cableman (uncredited)
May Boss .... stunt double; Rita Hayworth (uncredited)
John L. Cason .... stunt double: Van Heflin (uncredited)
Jack Conner .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
Tony Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Clem Fuller .... stunts (uncredited)
Doug Gunther .... stunts (uncredited)
Walt La Rue .... stunts (uncredited)
Fred Lerner .... stunts (uncredited)
Dean Smith .... stunts (uncredited)
Slim Talbot .... stunt double: Gary Cooper (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Frank G. Carson .... photographer: second unit
Morris Bauchman .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Albert Bettcher .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Jack Botthof .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Robert Coburn .... still photographer (uncredited)
Willard Klug .... grip (uncredited)
Eugene Lenoir .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Andrew J. McIntyre .... camera operator (uncredited)
Walter Meins .... grip (uncredited)
Don Murphy .... grip (uncredited)
Val O'Malley .... camera operator (uncredited)
Emil Oster .... camera operator (uncredited)
Clyde Prior .... grip (uncredited)
James Saper .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Charles Stapleton .... best boy (uncredited)
Homer Van Pelt .... still photographer (uncredited)
Seldon White .... gaffer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Thomas S. Dawson .... costume supervisor: men (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Henri Jaffa .... color consultant
Music Department
Arthur Morton .... orchestrator
Morris Stoloff .... conductor
Morris Stoloff .... musical director (uncredited)
Other crew
Paul R. Davison .... technical consultant (as Col. Paul Davison U.S.A.{Rtd.})
Ivan Connors .... ramrod (uncredited)
Doris Grau .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Rolly Harper .... caterer (uncredited)
'Chema' Hernandez .... head wrangler (uncredited)
A.W. Kennard .... parrot trainer (uncredited)
Mary Lou Tobler .... stand-in: Rita Hayworth (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
123 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Finland:K-16 | Germany:16 (DVD rating) | Spain:13 | UK:PG | USA:Approved (PCA #19173) | West Germany:16 (f)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Besides looking far too old for his character, Gary Cooper was actually quite ill during shooting, and participated in this film against the advice of his doctors. Towards the end of the film he was dragged 100 yards along the ground by a railroad handcar, something film critic Stanley Kauffmann complained about in an issue in the magazine New Republic.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Major Thorn improperly salutes Colonel DeRose in the opening scene when he dismissed. He should have saluted and held his salute until it was acknowledged. Instead, he lowers his arm even before Colonel Rose acknowledges it.See more »
Opening crawl:On the night of March 8th, 1916, a large mounted force of Mexican rebels under Pancho Villa crossed the American border and attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico, killing and wounding both American civilians and soldiers. As a result of this action...See more »
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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful.
A good film with a very subtle message, 19 March 2006
Author: artisticengineer from United States

I would like to add another comment from a little different viewpoint than what has been expressed at IMDb so far. A little film history first- this movie appeared in 1959 and was based on a book with the same title that had come out about a year earlier. Now, in this era (late 1950s) the Westerns ruled TV as well as the movies. It was the popular genre at the time. Also popular at the time were "war movies" that depicted United States troops in action in WWII. That war was pretty recent in memory then and had been quite popular and, of course, a lot of people still remembered our involvement and victory in the first fracas in 1917-1918. Now, how could an author tie in our military's achievements in the World Wars with the Old West? The World Wars were fought in Europe and Asia (Atlantic and Pacific for you Navy people) and neither had any real connection with the American West. The best that anybody could do to link up the two popular genres was to bring up the expedition in 1916 that sent the Army under General Pershing into the country of Mexico to hunt down or at least slow down the various Mexican rebel factions such as the one under Pancho Villa. This is the one time in history that, by any stretch of the imagination, the modern U.S. military was involved in a part of the "Old West". In this time, the "Old West" still lived in Mexico in 1916 plus the fact the U.S. military still used mounted calvary; though they were not going to take them to Europe the next year. However, the U.S. military did take General Pershing and Capts Douglas McArthur and George Patton to Europe the next year so yes, in a way the WWI (perhaps even the WWII) military did fight in the Old West due to this military expedition. Hence the linkage; and why this time and military action gets a disproportionate amount of attention in movies and TV to this date. The trouble with this premise of the Old West calvary in Mexico is that you have people acting in a way that is simply not believable for that era. The plot is very suspicious. You have five men who find they are going to be submitted for the Medal of Honor- an award that was quite well known even then. Perhaps one or even two of the men might not want the award and could conceivably threaten the nominating officer, but that is highly unlikely. Some men, in the past, have not wanted to be awarded the medal but usually because they sincerely felt they did not perform any action that any other man in their unit would not have done. And even when an individual truly did not want the medal, they never threaten the life of a superior officer. To have five men (one of them an officer) nominated for that most illustrious of medals, gang up on the nominating officer is simply so far fetched that only Hollywood could have even conceived of it. In real life, Captain McArthur was nominated for the medal for his actions in Mexico. He did not receive it due to some political reasons; nevertheless the fact remains that he did not threaten the nominating officer. This, by itself, destroys the entire believability of the character of "Lt William Fowler" in this movie. The rest of the characters are equally unbelievable in the context of the movie- the "act of cowardice" of Maj Thomas Thorn (sorry, but Gary Cooper was just a little too old to portray even a passed over Major) was hardly cowardice but simply proper tactics- take cover until you find out where the enemy fire is coming from. If you can't find it or do not have the proper weapon then stay put. Don't get killed unnecessarily. In fact, the proper response of Maj Thorn to Cpl Milo Trubee, when Trubee threatened to blackmail him, would have been something of the nature of "up yours Trubee" as Trubee hardly had anything to blackmail the Major with. Actually, this movie used the military only because of the high respect in society the military had in the 1950s (and does again today, in fact); hence the more dramatic juxtaposition. Now, having wrote all that- let me explain the true moral of this movie and why I like it so much. The military has high respect in society even though, by and large, the military performs duties that are dirty and hard work. In fact, military duty can be depressingly boring and monotonous. Now, in other parts of society there are people who are doing jobs that are at least equally dirty and hard, boring and monotonous. Unlike the military, those people generally do not get much respect from society. For some reason the upper class (and I am in that group) tends to ignore or turn their backs to the lower class workers. And, then, we wonder why this group of people will act belligerent and tough. Well, they may already be that way. Yet, I have seen decent people turn bad due to the disrespect given to them by others. I do not like to see that occur even though I cannot say that I myself have not been disrespectful in the past to people on the "fringe" of society. This movie, by using military personnel in a proxy manner, explores this deeper issue; basically, are there heroes or at least potential heroes amongst the people that we usually ignore? The thoughtful exploration of that question redeems the error in the movie that I previously mentioned. It is a good movie; I recommend that everybody watch it at least once when they are young as it explores the human psyche in much the same way that Major Thorn does.

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