Vera Cruz: the strongest aspect of Robert Aldrich’s tight Western is its murky morality: even the main hero is far from a virtuous character (beyond the obvious fact he is a man with a gun that shoots at people). The web of conflicting interests is ever-growing, and so are everyone’s loyalties, and that makes for a very dynamic and entertaining plot. Gary Cooper is fine as the polished straight(er) arrow, while Burt Lancaster steals the show as the athletic, charismatic rascal; Denise Darcel and Sara Montiel are more that just eye-candy (even if both in fact are that), defending reasonably well characters that are instrumental to the plot. The film makes very good use of its locations in Mexico, and cinematographer Ernest Laszlo pulls of a few very nice, off-the-beaten-track shots. The film is quick and tight, but it does have time to showcase some of the culture of the locale. Hugo Friedhofer’s musical score is quite good, also making liberal use of Mexican themes.