Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vera Cruz

     Finally got a chance to sit down and and enjoy MGM's recent Blu-Ray of Robert Aldrich's 1954 western Vera Cruz. This one was one of the releases that nudged me toward Blu-Ray. Man, I love this movie. Shot in Superscope ( a rather short-lived cheaper alternative to CinemaScope), the lens could be used with standard equipment cameras and no fees to Fox - who owned the CinemaScope process.
    The interesting thing to me about this movie was that it seemed to be looking forward about 10 years to the "spaghetti western" genre. The shifting alliances of the main characters, the influx of modern weaponry (like the the machine gun) into the traditional western, the setting of the post American Civil War Mexico with the French occupation and Emperor Maximilian were all staples of the Italian westerns of the 60's. Sam Peckinpah would also explore some of these same things in his westerns such as Major Dundee and The Wild Bunch (Burt would again too, in Richard Brooks 1966 western The Professionals).
     Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper work great together. It's fun watching Burt's typical bigger then life performance with his huge smile, compared to Copper's stoic man of few words.
    The disc itself looks fine - colors vary a bit and is pretty much a bare bones release, just the trailer and the original mono sound (which is fine by me).

Here's Gary and Burt with leading ladies Sara Montiel and Denise Darcel.

Looks to be director Aldrich in the middle

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