Vera Cruz

Screening on Film
Directed by Robert Aldrich.
With Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Ernest Borgnine.
US, 1954, 35mm, color, 94 min.

Gary Cooper stars as a former Confederate military leader who loses his plantation in the Civil War and becomes a mercenary in the untamed frontier of the Mexican borderland. He meets up with a duplicitous rancher, played with roguish charm by Burt Lancaster, who, along with his band of outlaws (Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Jack Elam) lead the conflicted hero through a series of twists and double crosses on a special mission to Mexico to protect a beautiful countess. As in Kiss Me Deadly, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and The Dirty Dozen, Aldrich shows his knack at constructing multifaceted characters whose morality is constantly in question. Both a tribute to the traditions of the old Western and an embrace of the of the genre’s modernist revisions, Aldrich’s unique approach laid the groundwork for the hyperviolent style of both Peckinpah and Leone.

Part of film series

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: A–Z

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A Burt Lancaster Centennial Tribute

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