They Came to Cordura

They Came to Cordura

Director: Robert Rossen

Cast: Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin

     
 

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Gary Cooper stars in one of his final roles in They Came To Cordura, Robert Rossen's moody study of the thin dividing line between heroism and cowardice. Cooper plays Major Thomas Thorn, a U.S. Army officer in the expedition into Mexico against Pancho Villa. Because he hesitated during a moment of decision in a battle, he has been labeled a coward. His

Overview

Gary Cooper stars in one of his final roles in They Came To Cordura, Robert Rossen's moody study of the thin dividing line between heroism and cowardice. Cooper plays Major Thomas Thorn, a U.S. Army officer in the expedition into Mexico against Pancho Villa. Because he hesitated during a moment of decision in a battle, he has been labeled a coward. His commanding officer, Colonel Rogers (Robert Keith), orders Thorn to recommend five men for nomination for the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in the battle against Villa. Angered that Thorn did not nominate him for the Medal of Honor, Rogers charges Thorn with transporting the men through a broiling and dangerous desert to the rear area of Cordura. They begin the trek accompanied by Adelaide Geary (Rita Hayworth), the daughter of a dishonored U.S. Senator, who is accused of treason since she owned the hacienda where Villa's men stayed. As they travel across the desert expanse, Thorn ponders why these men are considered heroes while he is labeled a coward. As their journey continues, the heroes turn into a mutinous rabble, with Thorn reduced to holding the group at bay with a loaded gun.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
They Came To Cordura was among Gary Cooper's final films, and the aging, obviously ailing actor -- along with director Robert Rossen -- took full advantage of his deteriorating physical condition in executing his portrayal of Major Thomas Thorn, a career army officer whose moment of cowardice on the frontier with Mexico has marked him as unworthy. Cooper gives a beautifully internalized performance as a man seeking redemption by the only means left open to him, as the Awards Officer -- appointed to that post by army bureaucrats in Washington who, anticipating our involvement in the First World War then raging in Europe, and the need for heroes going into that conflict, Thorn intends to carry out his mission, to return five men worthy of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Cooper and director Rossen use the actor's obvious infirmity as a visual prop for his internal struggle, trying to bring out in these men -- all but one of whom has what he considers a compelling reason to reject the honor -- the greatness of spirit that he sees in them and their actions. Van Heflin, Tab Hunter, Richard Conte, and Michael Callan deliver some of the best work of their careers as the conflicted and ultimately mutinous soldiers, whose situation is complicated by the presence of Adelaide Geary (Rita Hayworth), and expatriate American accused of treason. Their anger -- a mixture of fear, confusion, and lust -- is palpable as the group struggles to survive the long and dangerous desert trek, each of them ultimately confronting their worst and best sides. Rossen keeps the action moving and the violence (including an attempted rape) brutal, but the acting is what carries this surprisingly psychologically-oriented outdoor drama. Also worth noting in the cast is Dick York as the youngest and least conflicted of the men chosen for the medal -- ironically, during the course of making this movie, which offered one of York's two best dramatic performances (the other being Inherit The Wind), York received an injury that left him bed-ridden for an extended time, and resulted in his addiction to the pain-killers that ultimately ended his acting career a decade later. The movie was based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout, who had earlier authored the underlying story for the similar but much less ambitious western film Seventh Cavalry.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/29/1997
UPC:
0043396602311
Original Release:
1959
Rating:
NR
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gary Cooper Maj. Thomas Thorn
Rita Hayworth Adelaide Geary
Van Heflin Sgt. John Chawk
Tab Hunter Lt. William Fowler
Richard Conte Cpl. Milo Trubee
Michael Callan Pvt. Andrew Hetherington
Dick York Pvt. Renziehausen
Robert Keith Col. Rogers
Carlos Romero Arreaga
James Bannon Capt. Paltz
Edward Platt Col. DeRose
Maurice Jara Mexican Federate
Sam Buffington Correspondent
Arthur Hanson Correspondent
Wendell Hoyt Cavalry Soldier

Technical Credits
Robert Rossen Director,Screenwriter
Sammy Cahn Songwriter
Clay Campbell Makeup
Thomas Dawson Costumes/Costume Designer
Carter DeHaven Asst. Director
Milton Feldman Asst. Director
William Goetz Producer
Burnett Guffey Cinematographer
John P. Livadary Sound/Sound Designer
Jean Louis Costumes/Costume Designer
William Lyon Editor
Ivan Moffat Screenwriter
Cary O'Dell Art Director
Morris W. Stoloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Frank A. Tuttle Set Decoration/Design
James VanHeusen Songwriter

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