One of the first major Hollywood films to be made on location in Mexico.
Film-making legislation in Mexico meant that a local director had to be involved in the production in some capacity, though he wasn't actually used. (MFW: This guy actually gets Billing in the credits. How do you get a job like that anyway?)
One of Robert Aldrich's personal favorites of his films, he particularly enjoyed the fact that it had a hero and an anti-hero. (MFW: This was an innovative concept - especially with Gary Cooper!)
Clark Gable warned Gary Cooper not to work with Burt Lancaster, saying, "That young guy will blow you off the screen." Ironically, Gable himself later worked with Lancaster in Run Silent Run Deep. (MFW: Coop, of course, more than holds his own. And when both of them are in the same frame, it's dynamite.)
Burt Lancaster was quite happy to cede top billing to Gary Cooper, knowing that the older actor had more box office pull than he did. (MFW: on the posters the Billing and images are usually equal - but can change from country to country - and sometimes from year to year.)
Lancaster recalled that Gary Cooper would object to anything in the script that implied his character was anything other than good, and demand it be changed. (MFW: Good for you Coop. Nowadays most actors would probably insist on the opposite.)
Produced by Burt Lancaster's own production company for $1.7 million, the film went on to become a sizable hit, grossing over $11 million. (MFW: These days that wouldn't even pay for Johnny Depp's shoelaces. The 2 recent Hobbit films cost over 500 million dollars to make - and there's another one coming. The 3 Lord of the Rings movies made over 3 billion dollars.)
This film is sometimes called the "first spaghetti western," due to its reputed influence on the Italian directors such as Sergio Leone who popularized the genre.
Gary Cooper was taking medication during much of the filming. (MFW: Cooper was also ill (with a stomach ulcer) during the filming of High Noon. And it's said that his pained expression in much of High Noon was not from acting.)
Cooper was badly hurt when he was struck by fragments from a bridge that had been blown up and the special-effects team had used too much explosives. (MFW: this probably didn't help much either.)
Vera Cruz was not actually filmed in Vera Cruz, due to the unpredictable weather conditions. Production was set up instead in Cuernavaca, not exactly an ideal substitute as many of the crew promptly came down with sunstroke in the sizzling Mexican desert. (MFW: Ever had sunstroke? It can kill you.)
A caravan of a 100-member cast and crew and 50 horses were joined by 200 extras hired in Mexico. (MFW: One set location in The Hobbit had over 600 people.)
The equipment included a dangerous 25,000 rounds of live ammunition because blanks were in short supply. (MFW: Don't do this at home folks.)
Although no one was shot, there was one false arrest: actor Charles Horvath, who plays one of the baddies. Mistaken for a real-life bandit named Jaramillo, who was active in the area during filming, Horvath was apprehended by Mexican authorities in full costume while trying to buy cigarettes on a break. (MFW: Some trivia sources claim it was Bronson and Borgnine who were arrested. Don't believe everything (anything?) you read on the internet folks - except for this blog.)