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During the Mexican Revolution, rival mercenaries team to steal a fortune in gold.
As the American Civil War is ending, and Mexico is beginning a revolution to rid the country of Maximilian, its foreign emperor, some North American ex-soldiers and adventurers head to Mexico to offer their services to either side. Ben Trane, who was a Confederate major during the Civil War, and Joe Erin, a western outlaw, meet up in Mexico when Ben has to replace his injured horse. Joe tries to sell him a horse that he stole from the leader of a cavalry troop, but Ben outwits Joe and rides off on Joe's horse. Later, in a small pueblo, Ben receives a very cold welcome from some fellow North Americans who, recognizing Joe's horse, assume that Ben has killed him and are about to beat him up when Joe comes to his rescue. Joe then persuades Ben to join his small band of mercenaries, and they meet with the Marquis de Labordere, who represents the emperor and offers to pay them well. When Ben goes to the assistance of a young Mexican woman, Nina, he is rewarded with a kiss and the theft of his wallet. After Gen. Ramirez, a leader of the revolutionary Juaristas, offers them no money but, instead, an honorable cause and tries to force their hand, Ben, Joe and the dozen or so mercenaries choose to the accompany the marquis to Mexico City. There they are received at an opulent society ball at Chapultepec Castle, the emperor's residence. Joe's rough rabble is very much out of place at the event, but he and Ben manage to charm the elegant Countess Marie Duvarre. Maximilian agrees to pay the men fifty thousand dollars in gold to undertake the special mission of escorting the countess' coach through Juarista territories to the port of Vera Cruz, where she will embark for France. The marquis and a troop of lancers led by Capt. Danette, whose horse Joe stole, will also accompany them. However, Ben and Joe soon suspect that the coach is carrying more than the countess, and when they stop for a night at a monastery, Joe discovers that under the coach's floor are six boxes of gold bullion. Joe is surprised by Ben, then by the countess, who explains that the three million dollars in gold is to be used in Europe to hire more troops to support Maximilian, but that she is contemplating other uses for the money. She suggests that they split the money three ways and that she help them get out of the country. The next day, the caravan is attacked by Juaristas, led by Ramirez and Nina, but Joe and Ben escape with the coach. Nina infiltrates the group, however, and, later, Ben asks her if she can take him to Vera Cruz by a different route. The marquis realizes that the countess intends to betray the emperor and attempts to frustrate her goal. In a small pueblo, the countess meets with a ship's captain who has agreed to take her onboard, via long boat, before the caravan reaches Vera Cruz. She tells the captain that she will be accompanied by Ben and Joe, but then pays the captain to kill them. Although Joe suspects that the countess is planning to double-cross him, he joins with her in a plan to double-cross Ben. Meanwhile, Ben plans to leave with Nina and the gold, but Nina wants the gold for the Juaristas. However, before any of them can act, the marquis and the lancers race off with the coach, pursued by Joe, Ben and the others. When the coach is wrecked in a Juarista ambush, the boxes inside prove to be empty. Ben goes to talk with Ramirez and after telling him that they have all been tricked and that he suspects that the gold is now in a supply wagon on its way to Vera Cruz, suggests that they join forces to recover the gold. After Ramirez states that the gold belongs to Mexico and that he will not share it, Ben negotiates a deal whereby he and the others will be paid one hundred thousand dollars for their services. Joe assumes that, somehow, they will end up with all the money. Meanwhile, with the countess as his prisoner, the marquis arrives at the garrison in Vera Cruz intending to put the gold onboard the ship as planned. Ramirez, Nina and many Juaristas attack the fort, but the superior firepower within is no match for men armed with machetes. However, Ben and Joe back them up with their rifles and manage to capture a Gatling gun, which they then turn on the troops, enabling the Juaristas to win. After Joe deduces that Ben intends to honor his word to Ramirez and that they will not be taking the gold, the countess tells him that the marquis is escaping with the gold. Ben and Joe stop the marquis and after the countess informs Joe of the location of the waiting ship, she realizes that he has no intention of taking either her or Ben with him. Ben tells Joe that all of the gold is going to the Juaristas, and they face each other in a gunfight. Ben kills Joe, then joins Nina and the Juaristas.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in New York: 25 Dec 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
EB; AFI Library; AFI*
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Flora Productions, Hecht-Lancaster Productions|
|Duration(mins):||94||Country:||Mexico and United States|
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User Ratings & Review
kevin sellers 2015-07-02
The only Gary Cooper western I've ever liked (and yes, Virginia, that includes the heavy handed civics lesson called "High Noon.") Maybe...
A CLASSIC WESTERN WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS
"Vera Cruz" is one of the most satisfying films I've ever seen and its extraordinary appeal seem to last through repeated viewings. Cooper...
One action sequence after another
Jarrod McDonald 2009-10-29
While watching this film, I realized something about the two lead actors. Their styles are very different and not exactly in-sync. Cooper uses a part to...