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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
Burt Lancaster recalled that Gary Cooper would object to anything in the script that implied his character was anything other than good (despite the fact that he was playing a former Confederate Colonel, who fought to maintain slavery), and demand it be changed. 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 »
When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure an 'A' rating. All cuts were waived in 1998 when the film was granted an 'PG' certificate for home video. See more »
Vera Cruz is an old fashioned buddy western with two dissimilar buddies with 180 degree contrasting acting styles.
Since one of the co-stars was the producer of this, he got the showier part. But in truth I certainly couldn't see casting either one in the other's part.
Burt Lancaster was the producer and star and he got the scenery chewing role of Joe Erin, disarmingly charming and ruthlessly amoral gunfighter down in Mexico working for Emperor Maximilian for a price. He's leading a mini army himself of gunfighters that include among other, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson.
Along the way Lancaster hooks up with Gary Cooper, former Southern Colonel Ben Trane, who's also looking to restart his life by making some money in Mexico so he can rebuild his plantation in Reconstruction Louisiana.
Basically these two play themselves or at least stay true to the image that we have of both Cooper and Lancaster.
The prize her is a big gold shipment that Maximilian is sending out of Mexico to pay for more troops from Napoleon III. The gunfighters are escorting it, but they don't know it. They think the job is to escort a squeeze of Maximilian's, nicely packaged in the shape of Denise Darcel.
Just about everyone in the film from George Macready playing Maximilian to Cesar Romero playing a French marquis down to Lancaster, Cooper, Darcel, and the rest of the gunfighters all have their own plans for the three million in gold they're carrying. Let's just say that it's no surprise where it winds up.
Morris Ankrum plays a solid version of a Juarista general and Mexican film star, Sarita Montiel, does one of two American films, the other being Serenade with Mario Lanza. She was and is a big name in the Mexican and Spanish cinema and no doubt her presence sold a few tickets south of the Rio Grande. She's an extraordinarily beautiful woman and she pairs with Cooper as Darcel pairs with Lancaster.
Some of the dialog is a bit hokey. I always laugh whenever I hear Darcel tell Lancaster "at heart you are French." But the action moves right along under Director Robert Aldrich and the climatic battle between the French and the Juaristas is well staged.
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