The Magnificent Matador


1h 34m 1955

Brief Synopsis

Maureen O'Hara as the spoiled, rich, American preditor who falls head-over-heels for the brooding, tormented, about-to-retire matador, Luis Santos (Anthony Quinn) who has inexplicably run away prior to a corrida that was to occasion the "alternativa" of a young, up-and-coming bullfighter (Manuel Rojas). The mystery is solved 94 minutes later, after Maureen has conquered Tony and Tony has saved Marueen's life by caping a toro bravo with his plaid horse blanket.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Number One
Release Date
Jun 1955
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 May 1955
Production Company
National Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Mexico and United States
Location
Mexico City,Mexico; Mexico City--El Toreo Bullring,Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1

Synopsis

Late one night in Mexico City, Americans Karen Harrison, Mark Russell and Mona and Jody Wilton are surprised to see famous matador Luis Santos entering a church. Karen's friend, former matador Jesús "Chucho" Solórzano, comments that it is unusual for Luis to be out so late the night before a fight, and explains that he might be upset because tomorrow he is to appear with young bullfighter Rafael Reyes, who could possibly challenge his supremacy someday. Karen, who has long admired Luis, enters the church and overhears him begging the Virgin Mary to send him a sign, but he rudely brushes past Karen as he leaves. In the morning, Luis quarrels with his aide, Miguel, about presenting Rafael as a matador at El Toreo, Mexico City's premier bullfighting ring, and insists that at eighteen, Rafael is too young to face the ferocious animals fought by professionals. Uncharacteristically, Luis then attends the drawing of the bulls, at which specific bulls are assigned to the fighters, and is disturbed by the fierce animal drawn for Rafael. Karen is also there and is surprised by Luis' emotional response, and soon after, when she returns to her hotel, distractedly dismisses Mark's marriage proposal. Mark cynically remarks that Karen is only interested in bullfighters, and annoyed by his boorish behavior, Karen storms out. As she is leaving, Karen sees Luis, who is staying at the same hotel, drive off. Amazed that he is dressed in civilian clothing rather than his matador regalia, Karen jumps in her car and follows as he speeds into the countryside. Finally, Luis stops and questions Karen, who assumes that he has fled because he has lost his courage and can no longer face the bulls. Karen offers him the quiet haven of her country hacienda in Cuernavaca, and Luis, who will not reveal his reasons for fleeing, accepts. There, Karen's servant Ignacio is awed to meet Luis, who is simply called "Matador" by his fans, but Luis is irritated to learn about the nationwide uproar following his failure to appear at El Toreo. That night, Luis observes that Karen has a large painting of him, and accuses her of wanting to add him to her "collection." He rejects Karen's attempts to kiss him and after getting drunk, barges into her bedroom. When Karen angrily pushes Luis away and asks if he has to be drunk to face the bulls, too, he retorts that at least he respects the bulls. Karen is crushed, and a recalcitrant Luis apologizes and leaves. The next morning, Luis again apologizes, and Karen reveals that she fell in love with him after seeing him perform in Spain. Karen's sincerity wins over Luis and the couple kisses. When they return to the hacienda, they discover that Jody, Mona and Mark have arrived, and Mark taunts Luis about being "the most unpopular man in Mexico." Mark's provocations continue into the evening, until Luis hits him and Karen orders Mark to leave. Later, in Mexico City, Rafael meets with Miguel and various businessmen, including Don David, the supplier of El Toreo's bulls, and insists that he wants no matador other than Luis to present him to the public. After the others leave, Mark spots Rafael and slips him a note telling him that Luis is with Karen. Rafael drives to the hacienda, and reveals that the drunken Mark had been making lascivious insinuations about Karen's relationship with Luis. Karen assures Rafael that she had nothing to do with Luis' decision not to fight, and Rafael explains his lifelong dream to appear in the ring beside Luis. Before leaving, Rafael warns Karen that Mark will tell others of Luis' whereabouts, and soon after, Luis and Karen leave for Pasteje, the ranch owned by Don David. Don David welcomes the couple warmly and takes them on a tour of the ranch, during which Karen falls from her horse while jumping a fence into an enclosed pasture. Unknown to Karen, the pasture contains a cantakerous bull, and after Luis fights the animal into submission, Karen is thrilled, for Luis's actions prove that he is not a coward. Having fallen in love with Karen, Luis finally admits to her that the reason he left Mexico City was not out of fear for himself but for Rafael, his illegitimate son. Luis reveals that long ago, he was deeply in love with his childhood sweetheart, and upon discovering that she was pregnant, intended to marry her. He had to leave on his first tour, however, and while he was away, she received erroneous information that he had been killed, and, overcome, died during childbirth. In order to prevent Rafael from living with the shame of being illegitimate, Luis placed him with a good family and told only Don David about his birth. Karen pleads with Luis to tell Rafael the truth and return to the ring with his son, and so Luis goes back to Mexico City, where he meets Rafael in a café. Luis is surprised by Rafael's casual revelation that Don David told him long ago about his parentage, but overcomes his surprise to give his son a hearty embrace. Soon after, despite his nervousness, Luis presents Rafael at El Toreo, and Karen watches with the roaring crowd as the glamorous matadors battle the bulls. Rafael uses the arena's public address system to dedicate his bull to Luis, "the man who will always be the number one," and Luis in turn publicly acknowledges Rafael as his son. While a proud Karen and Luis watch Rafael combat the bull with grace and skill, she comments that the number one will always be a Santos.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Number One
Release Date
Jun 1955
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 May 1955
Production Company
National Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Mexico and United States
Location
Mexico City,Mexico; Mexico City--El Toreo Bullring,Mexico

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1

Articles

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher


BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001

When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces.

Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade.

Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960.

That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it.

Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85.

By Lang Thompson

Tcm Remembers - Budd Boetticher

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher

BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001 When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces. Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade. Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960. That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it. Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Number One. After the end credits, the following two written epilogs appear: "Magnificent Matador was photographed in its entirety in Mexico" and "We wish to express our appreciation to the Catholic Church, the Government and the various organizations of this great country for their kind cooperation." Budd Boetticher's onscreen credit reads, "Direction and Story Budd Boetticher." In June 1952, Los Angeles Times reported that the project began when Boetticher and Anthony Quinn, who had worked together on the 1941 Twentieth Century-Fox bullfighting picture Blood and Sand, decided to re-team for another production. The article further stated that Borden Chase was writing the film's screenplay, and that the picture would be shot in Spain. It is unlikely that Chase contributed to the final film, however.
       Although a April 15, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Boetticher and co-producer Carroll Case had struck a deal with Miguel Alemán to produce the film jointly with his Tele-Voz Productions, a November 1954 Daily Variety news item reported that the picture was to be "made under Edward L. Alperson's National Pictures banner," and the extent of Alemán's involvement with the final film, if any, has not been determined.
       In May 1954, Hollywood Reporter noted that Anne Baxter was about to be signed to co-star with Quinn, and in September 1954, another Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Michael Pate had been assigned to the second male lead. Neither appears in the released picture, however. Several Hollywood Reporter news items stated that leading matador Carlos Arruza would appear in the production, but the onscreen credits list him only as the film's technical advisor. Other Hollywood Reporter news items include matadors Luis Procuna and Luis Dominguín in the cast, but it is unlikely that they would have been appeared in the picture without being listed in the onscreen credits. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Eugene Iglesias to the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. As noted in the onscreen credits, the picture was shot entirely in Mexico, including sites such as Mexico City's El Toreo bullring. According to Boetticher's autobiography, "Pasteje," the large ranch owned by Arruza, was another location used for the film.
       According to a March 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Raoul Kraushaar took over as the picture's musical director from Mexican composer Raúl Lavista. The film's score was originally set to be recorded in Mexico City, but was instead recorded in Los Angeles. Although a July 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Case had commissioned writer David Dortort to write a novel based on the picture's screenplay, no publication information about Dortort's work has been found. According to August and November 1960 Daily Variety news items, Case had filed a lawsuit against Alperson and National Pictures, claiming that he was "entitled to recoup certain sums from distribution revenues which he was obliged to pay the N.Y. Chemical Bank under guarantee of a production loan." After three years of arbitration and litigation, Case was awarded $180,000.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1955

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1955