Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Vera Cruz 
Robert Aldrich’s Vera Cruz was one of the earliest films in the transition of classical Westerns to their revisionist counterparts. Its cynical tone, penchant for violence and glibly amoral protagonists who prefer money over cause, were however masked by the action and spectacle that typified it. Consequently, even though, on hindsight, it feels slight and merely entertaining vis-à-vis other revisionist Westerns, its importance in the genre’s evolution ought to be acknowledged. The story is set in 1866 during the Mexican Revolution when Americans by the handful ventured into the country in the hope for lucrative opportunities that situations of turmoil generally provide to mercenaries and outlaws. Ben (Gary Cooper), a former Confederate soldier, and Joe (Burt Lancastar), a crooked gunslinger, take up the job of protecting Countess Duvarre (Denise Darcel) during her transportation to Veracruz, at the behest of the country’s emperor in exchange for a lucrative fee, and much to the chagrin of the rebels. However, as they soon find out, their real job is to protect the millions worth gold that is secretly accompanying her, and hence stealing that, with the help of the duplicitous lady, becomes their objective, while staying a couple of steps ahead of everyone, including each other. The divergent personalities of the two principal protagonists – one serious, sober and wary, the other nasty, unreliable and perennially grinning – made for an interesting psychological duel, but didn’t alleviate the film beyond its scintillating sequences and gunsmanship. Further, Cooper looked quite out of sorts given the film’s tone and style, and particularly in comparison to Lancaster’s delectably over-the-top turn.
Director: Robert Aldrich
Genre: Western/Adventure/Buddy Film