The Fugitive / Vera Cruz
This double-feature is part of the series Runaway Hollywood: Global Production in the Postwar World.
Besides the UK, Hollywood shot more films in Mexico than any other country abroad in the postwar era. The ties between these two film industries are on full display in this adaptation of a Graham Greene novel about a revolutionary priest who escapes a Central American dictatorship. John Ford directed the film throughout Mexico and at RKO’s Churubusco Studios, while master cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, who had studied in Hollywood with director of photography Gregg Toland, brought his distinctive pictorialism. It’s a remarkable hybrid of Hollywood and Mexican talent and aesthetics. (1947, dir. John Ford, 35mm, black and white, 104 min.)
In the postwar era, the Western genre flourished with a number of films that used Mexico as a political and geographic landscape. Two American gunslingers (Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster) venture south of the border to pick up mercenary work in the Franco-Mexican War only to be drawn into an ideological conflict between the revolutionary Juaristas and the imperialist French. Shot entirely in Mexico in SuperScope, the film showcases director Robert Aldrich’s flair for stylish action, morally ambiguous characters, and punchy storytelling, which laid the groundwork for filmmakers like Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. (1954, dir. Robert Aldrich, 35mm, color, 94 min.)