Vera Cruz

Director: Robert Aldrich
Year Released: 1954
Rating: 2.5

Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper buddy up in this old-time Western that takes place in Mexico - their job: escort large sums of money to pay for manpower and help a Mexican President's campaign (by force) to remain in power. Masculinity saves the day, as Vera Cruz is decidedly less about character or substance than in outright machismo - and also enjoys side bits of racism (a black man is made to dance as entertainment) and misogyny (women are lassoed and pulled around). The Lancaster-Cooper union is interesting - can Lancaster's teeth get any whiter? - and it's always a pleasure to watch great performers work their craft, but it all ultimately fails to impress or depress; none of its sequences are so grandiose that they transcend the stale material. The absence of a satisfactory (or remotely conclusive) ending does not work in its favor.