A terribly over-rated movie. Good acting, sure. But the plot is as absurd as a Hope-Crosby road movie, only not funny. And all the cowboy movie cliches are conspicuous: superhuman shoot-from-the-him marksmanship, revolvers that never run out of ammunition until the plot calls for it, ability to mow down legions of bad guys while dodging a hail of bullets, sassy Hispanic girl... And as if that were not bad enough, background music so trite and bland it drains the life out of any scene where it is heard. Were it not for the stars this movie would have disappeared instantly into oblivion.
Time Out saysA brash, lively, and totally appealing Western about a couple of American adventurers - Cooper, a decent but cynical Southern gentleman, and Lancaster, a supremely conniving crook - getting involved with Maximilian's imperial court and the Juarez revolutionaries in 1860s Mexico. Basically, the film is played as a game of bluff and betrayal, with the pair continually voicing their distrust of each other as they transport a countess and her crock of gold to Vera Cruz, allowing Aldrich to alternate with ease between earthy comedy and taut suspense. Beautifully shot by Ernest Laszlo, it conjures up a Mexico that in some ways looks forward to Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, a country at once romantic and treacherous, wild and lovely, an outpost of freedom for exiles yet oppressed by a corrupt government. And the performances, as you might expect, are highly professional.