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After a cavalry charge during the 1916 U.S. "war against Pancho Villa," unheroic awards officer Tom Thorn (who is obsessed with the nature of courage) recommends 4 men for the Medal of Honor. He is ordered back to Cordura with them...and prisoner Adelaide Geary, gringo who sheltered the enemy. On the arduous journey, Thorn's heroes show a different face, and Thorn may have one last chance to prove he's no coward.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Although Gary Cooper was 57, his character Major Thorn was supposed to be in his thirties. Early in the film it is mentioned that Thorn's father had recently been killed while still on active service. See more »
Major Thorn improperly salutes Colonel DeRose in the opening scene when he is dismissed. He should have saluted and held his salute until it was acknowledged. Instead, he lowers his arm even before Colonel Rose acknowledges it. See more »
On the night of March 8th, 1916, a large mounted force of Mexican rebels under Pancho Villa crossed the American Border and attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico, killing and wounding both American civilians and soldiers.
As a result of this action,the United States Army sent an expedition into Mexico with orders to capture Villa and disperse his forces.
It was during this campaign that one man, an United States Army officer,was forced to come face to face with two of the great fundamental questions that affect mankind:
What Is Courage? What Is Cowardice?
This is the story of his search for an answer. See more »
They Came to Cordura is one of the very few films I've seen about our intervention in Mexico after Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico and shot the joint up. President Woodrow Wilson authorized our intervention under the command of John J. Pershing who went on to a more serious military intervention shortly.
It was a real comic opera affair. We fought a few skirmishes, chased Villa around halfheartedly, even the Mexican government under President Venustiano Carranza was against us even though Villa was very much against him. It was over with few casualties.
In the initial raid on Columbus in our story, Gary Cooper froze under fire and hid in a railroad ditch. Because his father was a big shot in the army and was killed there, Cooper's actions were covered up and he was given the non-combat assignment of awards officer.
So on a raid on Mexican sympathizer Rita Hayworth's ranch where some Villistas have taken cover, Cooper's job is to find worthy candidates for medals. He finds Van Heflin, Richard Conte, Tab Hunter, Michael Callan, and Dick York. His job is then to bring them back to the American base in Cordura.
The journey reveals the less than sterling character of these men of courage. Quite a bit happens on the way to Cordura, some of it a little too unbelievable for me.
This was one of Gary Cooper weakest films in his last years. He is horribly miscast, he's way too old for the part he's playing. He's 58 when this film is made and shows every bit of it. The film mentions his father being killed at Columbua, he must have been 80 if he was still on active duty. Someone like Montgomery Clift should have been in his role.
Director Robert Rossen doesn't have a tight grip on the rest of the cast, they all overact outrageously. Of course since the whole story is rather incredulous, what else were they to do.
For fans of Cooper and Hayworth only.
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