They Came to Cordura

Screening on Film
Directed by Robert Rossen.
With Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin.
US, 1959, 35mm, color, 123 min.
Print source: Sony Pictures

On Rossen’s path back into Hollywood’s fold after his blacklist-imposed exile, he tackled the themes of courage and treachery in an unusual Western. After the US cavalry wins a major battle against Pancho Villa’s men, Major Thorne awards a handful of soldiers medals for their uncommon acts of bravery. Played by a weary Gary Cooper in one of his final roles, Thorne embarks on a strange mission accompanying the motley band – plus Rita Hayworth’s treasonous rebel – through uneven, dangerous psychological terrain to Cordura where the soldiers will be publicly feted. As Thorne searches for the nature of bravery, he instead beholds the gamut of depravity from the deteriorating soldiers – finally discovering what he was looking for in the unlikeliest of places. 

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