Dean Martin Westerns / 4 for Texas / Part 3

El Paso


Robert Aldrich Westerns / A Sketch

Significant as one of Burt’s first Westerns.

A undeniable Western Classic. One of My Favorites.

Romance and Tragedy in the Old West.

Kirk Douglas, Carol Lynley, Dorothy Malone, Rock Hudson

They don’t make ’em like this anymore. They can’t.
Worth one watch as being unique to it’s era.

Nyuk Nyuk … 

Not his best, but any Lancaster Western is worth a watch.

A Western Comedy.  Not a Classic.

Next: The End of 4 for Texas

Vera Cruz … Robert Aldrich / Director

“A director is a ringmaster, a psychiatrist and a referee.”

Robert Aldrich - Director
Robert Aldrich – Director

Robert Aldrich

Director / Writer / Producer

“The power is for the director to do what he wants to do. To achieve that he needs his own cutter, he needs his cameraman, he needs his own assistant and a strong voice in his choice of writer; a very, very strong voice on who’s the actor. He needs the power not to be interfered with and the power to make the movie as he sees it.”

Partial Filmography:

The Flight of the Phoenix / The Choirboys / The Frisco Kid  / Too Late the Hero / Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte / What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  / Twilight’s Last Gleaming / Emperor of the North  / The Angry Hills  / The Dirty Dozen / Ulzana’s Raid  / The Longest Yard / Apache / The Big Knife  / Ten Seconds to Hell  / 4 for Texas  / The Killing of Sister George / Hustle

Aldrich Directed 5 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Victor Buono, Bette Davis, Agnes Moorehead, Ian Bannen and John Cassavetes.

Aldrich Directed 3 Westerns starring Burt Lancaster: Ulzana’s Raid, Apache, and Vera Cruz.


President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA). [1975-1979]

Head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1959

Berlin International Film Festival
1956 Won Silver Berlin Bear – Best Director for: Autumn Leaves (1956).

Cannes Film Festival
1963 Nominated Palme d’Or for: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).

Directors Guild of America, USA 
Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for: The Dirty Dozen (1967).
1963 Nominated DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).

Hochi Film Awards
1982 Won Hochi Film Award Best Foreign Language Film for: …All the Marbles (1981).

Laurel Awards
1970 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 10th place.
1968 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 4th place.
1967 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 6th place.
1965 Nominated Golden Laurel Producer-Director 6th place.

Venice Film Festival
1956 Won Pasinetti Award for: Attack (1956)
Nominated Golden Lion for: Attack (1956).
1955 Won Silver Lion for: The Big Knife (1955).
Nominated Golden Lion for: The Big Knife (1955).

“The struggle for self-determination, the struggle for what a character wants his life to be . . . I look for characters who feel strongly enough about something not to be concerned with the prevailing odds, but to struggle against those odds.”
– Robert Aldrich

Vera Cruz – The Politics

Robert Aldrich - Director
Robert Aldrich – Director

The Politics of Vera Cruz 

It’s often the case that movies have a message that has gotten foggy over time. Vera Cruz was such a movie – with plenty to say about the politics in 1954.

A director with a message –
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson / DVD Savant

Vera Cruz shows Robert Aldrich at his subversive best. It played right in the Eisenhower years of CIA ‘adventurism’ in Central America, and the director has a field day showing interloping imperialist Maximillian as a slightly depraved schemer in contrast to his deification in William Dieterle’s Juarez. One can’t help thinking that the director was expressing his own radical outrage when he has moral icon Cooper participate in such unsavory deeds as holding innocent children as hostages. Outgunned by Colonel Fielding’s, I mean, General Ramirez’ troops, Lancaster acknowledges that his gang can’t fight its way out, “But they can stop an awful lot of little kids from growin’ up, amigo.” Ramirez backs down because it’s clear that Lancaster’s action is no bluff; In one fell swoop Aldrich shows his American ‘adventurers’ behaving with a ruthlessness usually reserved for depictions of Nazis. Since the French are presented as greedy murderous parasites, Roland Kibbee and James R. Webb’s script points audience sympathy to the conventionally virtuous Juaristas. “Wars are not won by killing children,” Ankrum intones nobly, but we are already expected to know better.

Lancaster / Cooper
Lancaster / Cooper and gang 

Vera Cruz’s tension (and thrills) indulge our delight at seeing how cynically outrageous things can get. The moral center weakly returns to Cooper’s Ben Trane when he eventually sides with the Juaristas against the doublecrossing Lancaster, but this development smacks of insincerity. Trane keeps claiming his intentions are just as mercenary as Lancaster’s, but it is Jo Erin who does all of the backstabbing, murdering several of his own gang. Lancaster’s most loyal follower Ballard, a black ex-soldier still in Union uniform, is his most sympathetic victim. The shaky triumph of Gary Cooper’s iconic ‘goodness’ defeats what seems to be Aldrich’s aim: To totally sully audience expectations of American Heroism and conclude with a cynical apocalypse. In reality, the cynicism appalled sensitive critics like Bosley Crowther while thrilling Western fans, who undoubtedly saw nothing ironic or troubling about the picture!

Plotting in the shadows...
Darcel, Cooper, Lancaster – Plotting in the shadows…