As a precursor to our film project, 12 Western Feature-Length Films in 12 Months, which Running Wild Films and 5J Media will start producing in 2016, director Travis Mills shares his thoughts on films from the genre as he studies Westerns in preparation for our own. Follow the project here on Facebook

This series of short blogs is titled “Western Impressions”.

Vera Cruz (1954)


I have yet to embrace the love of Aldrich. I like Ulzana’s Raid, I love The Dirty Dozen but something seems uneven about most of his work. This is perhaps the most uneven film I’ve seen of his. The beginning of the movie is the only good part (except for a thrilling action scene near the end). The film shows so much promise when Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper first meet, crossing each other and ending with Lancaster saving Cooper’s life from the former’s own men in a Mexican cantina. It’s a great string of scenes and then the movie just dies when it gets into the “plot”. It doesn’t even feel much like a Western to me during the whole middle and the end doesn’t match the rest of the picture at all. It’s far too dark for what I think could be considered a “buddy” western. This is not a Boetticher picture where it’s bittersweet for the likable villain to die, like Boone in The Tall T. No, this is just plain bitter.

Lasting impression: the chemistry between Lancaster and Cooper is wonderful, the film’s only light.