The Brave One (1956)

100 mins | Drama | October 1956

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Boy and the Bull . Clarence Eurist's opening credit reads: "Production supervisor and assistant director." The film ends with the following written statement: “We cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to the Government and the people of the Republic of Mexico, without whose courtesy and kindliness this motion picture could never have been made. Salud amigos ! –King Brothers Productions.”
       In Aug 1953, Var announced that The Boy and the Bull would be shot in Barcelona, in English, Spanish and German, with Kurt Neumann directing and RKO releasing. A Nov 1954 article in DV noted that co-producer Maurice King was scouting locations in Portugal, and in Dec 1954, HR reported that the film would begin in Madrid on 7 Feb 1955. On 20 Jan 1955, however, a HR article stated that the production had been moved to Mexico due to expensive “production problems” in Spain, and was set to start on 1 Mar 1955 with Irving Rapper directing.
       According to a 27 May 1955 HR article, Nassour Pictures won a Title Registration Bureau arbitration to prevent King Brothers from using the title The Boy and the Bull , because of its similarity to Emilio and the Bull , which Nassour planned to produced for United Artists “shortly.” [That film was never made.] By 1 Aug 1955, it was announced in HR that the title had been changed to The Brave One .
       As noted in studio press materials, the film was based on a true incident that occurred on 12 ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Boy and the Bull . Clarence Eurist's opening credit reads: "Production supervisor and assistant director." The film ends with the following written statement: “We cannot sufficiently express our gratitude to the Government and the people of the Republic of Mexico, without whose courtesy and kindliness this motion picture could never have been made. Salud amigos ! –King Brothers Productions.”
       In Aug 1953, Var announced that The Boy and the Bull would be shot in Barcelona, in English, Spanish and German, with Kurt Neumann directing and RKO releasing. A Nov 1954 article in DV noted that co-producer Maurice King was scouting locations in Portugal, and in Dec 1954, HR reported that the film would begin in Madrid on 7 Feb 1955. On 20 Jan 1955, however, a HR article stated that the production had been moved to Mexico due to expensive “production problems” in Spain, and was set to start on 1 Mar 1955 with Irving Rapper directing.
       According to a 27 May 1955 HR article, Nassour Pictures won a Title Registration Bureau arbitration to prevent King Brothers from using the title The Boy and the Bull , because of its similarity to Emilio and the Bull , which Nassour planned to produced for United Artists “shortly.” [That film was never made.] By 1 Aug 1955, it was announced in HR that the title had been changed to The Brave One .
       As noted in studio press materials, the film was based on a true incident that occurred on 12 Apr 1936, during which a notably brave bull was pardoned to its young owner. The film was shot on location entirely in Mexico, including at Estudios Churubusco and various Mexico City sites. A 29 Dec 1955 HR news item reports the final budget as two million dollars. Press materials state that all the actors in the film, except Michel Ray and Joi Lansing, were Mexico natives. Some reviews noted the fact that Ray, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, did not look particularly Mexican. Although an HR news item in Jan 1955 stated that Lupe Calderona, a female matador, would appear in the picture, she was not in the released film. HR news items add Rosita Puentas, Carlos Beckeril and Pedro Galvan to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a 14 Feb 1956 HR news item, actor-announcer Art Gilmore was hired to narrate the picture’s television and theatrical trailers. Studio press materials note that in conjunction with the film’s release, Decca records produced an album of music “taken directly from the soundtrack.”
       After being released in London, Rome, Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Rome in Jun 1956, The Brave One played at the Edinburgh Film Festival on 19 Aug 1956. It had its official American opening in Oct 1956. Upon its release, The Brave One was widely praised. The LAHE reviewer called it “a tribute to where [it] was filmed and a tribute to what Hollywood moviemaking stands for.” The HR review stated, “ The Brave One is one of the finest, most absorbing and most thoroughly enjoyable pictures made in this or any other year.”
       Despite its successful reception, the film was also the subject of much controversy. First, as noted in a Feb 1957 HR article, Nassour Pictures sued RKO and King Brothers for $750,000 for “misappropriating” the film from their recently completed picture, Emilio and the Bull . The second controversy concerns the film's story credit. During the Academy Awards ceremony in Mar 1957, credited story writer “Robert Rich” won the Oscar for Best Motion Picture Story. “Rich” was, in fact, a pseudonym for blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who, under a 6 Feb 1957 Academy bylaw declaring Communist Party members ineligible for Oscars, could not publicly accept his honor. Instead, Jesse Lasky, Jr., head of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), accepted the award, stating, according to a modern source, that Rich was in the hospital where his wife was giving birth.
       Soon after, the WGA admitted that they had no member named Robert Rich. Numerous press stories circulated questioning the writer’s identity (modern sources suggest that Trumbo himself fueled the press fury), spurred on by the discovery that the King Brothers had a nephew of the same name, and by Frank King’s physical description of Rich. As noted in an Apr LAT article, King claimed to have met Rich in Munich in 1952. Reporters and industry members hazarded many guesses as to Rich’s identity, including Trumbo and fellow blacklisted writer Albert Maltz and Paul Jarrico . Meanwhile, many other writers claimed credit, including Paul Rader, who in a 3 Apr 1957 HR article stated that he wrote the film and sold it to Nassour six years earlier.
       On 15 Apr 1957, Life reported that Fred Zinnemann credited documentarian Robert Flaherty with the original idea, which Orson Welles then bought in 1944 and tried to produce. In the same article, Willis O’Brien alleged that The Brave One 's story should be credited to him, because years earlier he sold the Emilio story to Jesse Lasky, Jr., who then sold it to Nassour.
       On 8 Apr 1957, DV reported that the Academy had issued a statement declaring that if “Rich” was not found, the award could be given to the runner-up. The organization stated in a 12 Apr 1957 HR item that if Rich did not appear in person at Academy headquarters, the 1956 Oscar would be rescinded.
       In Jul 1958, the controversy intensified when Mrs. Carmen Duval sued King Brothers for $300,000, stating that her late husband, Juan Duval, wrote the script. That suit, as noted in a 2 Jul 1962 DV news item, was eventually settled out of court. On 25 Jul 1957, the LAMirror noted that a writer named Philip Creed also alleged to be the writer.
       Soon after, Pierre Boulle won the 1957 Best Screenplay Adaptation Oscar for The Bridge on the River Kwai (see below), which was widely known to have been written by blacklisted writers Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman. The following year, blacklisted writer Nedrick Young won for co-writing The Defiant Ones (see below) under the pseudonym Nathan E. Douglas. On 14 Jan 1959, FD announced that the Academy Board of Governors had repealed the blacklist bylaw. Immediately afterward, on 17 Jan 1959, LAT announced that Trumbo acknowledged that he was Robert Rich. As a result, the WGA, as a 4 Feb 1959 HCN article reported, launched an official search for Rich, spurring Trumbo, Duval and writers John Fante and Norman Foster to petition for recognition of credits for various films. In 1975, the Academy issued an Oscar to Trumbo bearing his name as the film's writer. Trumbo died of cancer a year later. On 4 Aug 2000, HR reported that the WGA had officially restored credits to numerous films, including naming Trumbo as the story writer of The Brave One . Universal's 1960 Spartacus marked the first film after the blacklist for which Trumbo received onscreen credit. (For more information, see the entry for Spartacus , below.)
       In 1958, RKO turned over The Brave One , as part of a block of films, to Universal for distribution. In response, according to a 4 Nov 1958 DV article, King Brothers sued RKO and Universal for six million dollars, declaring that the sale of the film lessened its value “because of decreased competition.”
       In addition to the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story, The Brave One received nominations for Film Editing (Merrill G. White) and Sound Recording (John Myers). It was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Film Promoting International Understanding and won the Le Grand Prix Femina Belge, which honored the American film shown in Brussels that contained the “highest artistic and moral qualities.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Sep 1956.
---
Box Office
26 Jan 1959.
---
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1954.
---
Daily Variety
19 Sep 56
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1957.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1957.
---
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1958.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1962.
---
Film Daily
19 Sep 56
p. 6.
Film Daily
14 Jan 1959.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
4 Feb 1959.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1955
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1955
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1955
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1955
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1955
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 1955
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1956
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 2000.
---
Life
15 Apr 1957.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
18 Jul 1956.
---
Los Angeles Mirror
25 Jul 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Jul 1958.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1959.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1992
p. F6.
Los Angeles Times
13 Mar 2001
p. F1, F10.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Sep 56
p. 91.
New York Times
22 Mar 57
p. 26.
Variety
26 Aug 1953.
---
Variety
19 Sep 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Score performed by
SOUND
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
Photog eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Asst to the prod
Set cont
Asst to prod supv
Tech supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Boy and the Bull
Release Date:
October 1956
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 October 1956
Production Date:
early March--mid April 1955 at Estudios Churubusco, Mexico City
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 October 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7255
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
100
Length(in feet):
9,000
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17544
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On the day of his wife’s funeral, Rafael Rosillo is ordered by Vargas, the chief accountant for Rafael’s boss, millionaire ranch owner Don Alejandro Videgaray, to return a cow owned by the ranch. Despite the protestations of Rafael’s ten-year-old son Leonardo, who states that Alejandro gave them the cow in gratitude for saving his life, Vargas insists that the ranch owns the cow and its soon-to-be-born calf. That night, a storm awakens Leonardo, who rushes outside to rescue the cow. Although he is too late to save her, he brings back to his bed her newborn calf. While his father and sister Maria admire the calf for his bravery, Leonardo names him “Gitano,” meaning gypsy. The boy soon develops a strong bond with the similarly motherless youngster. In school, where he will be the first Rosillo ever to graduate, Leonardo learns about former Mexican president Benito Juarez, who rose from the lower classes but never forgot his roots. After class, the boy asks his teacher, Señorita Sanchez, to help him write a letter to Alejandro, reminding him that the cow was a gift. Over the next months, Gitano grows into a fine bull who loves to fight. One day, Rafael spots Leonardo using a red cape while playing with Gitano, and warns the boy not to train the bull to enjoy the cape, or he will become a killer in the bullfighting ring. Leonardo begs his father not to sell Gitano to the ring, but Rafael ignores him, confident that Leonardo will outgrow his childish attachment. Soon after, Vargas insists that Gitano be branded with the rest of the Videgaray herd, and Rafael is forced to assent. When Leonardo ... +


On the day of his wife’s funeral, Rafael Rosillo is ordered by Vargas, the chief accountant for Rafael’s boss, millionaire ranch owner Don Alejandro Videgaray, to return a cow owned by the ranch. Despite the protestations of Rafael’s ten-year-old son Leonardo, who states that Alejandro gave them the cow in gratitude for saving his life, Vargas insists that the ranch owns the cow and its soon-to-be-born calf. That night, a storm awakens Leonardo, who rushes outside to rescue the cow. Although he is too late to save her, he brings back to his bed her newborn calf. While his father and sister Maria admire the calf for his bravery, Leonardo names him “Gitano,” meaning gypsy. The boy soon develops a strong bond with the similarly motherless youngster. In school, where he will be the first Rosillo ever to graduate, Leonardo learns about former Mexican president Benito Juarez, who rose from the lower classes but never forgot his roots. After class, the boy asks his teacher, Señorita Sanchez, to help him write a letter to Alejandro, reminding him that the cow was a gift. Over the next months, Gitano grows into a fine bull who loves to fight. One day, Rafael spots Leonardo using a red cape while playing with Gitano, and warns the boy not to train the bull to enjoy the cape, or he will become a killer in the bullfighting ring. Leonardo begs his father not to sell Gitano to the ring, but Rafael ignores him, confident that Leonardo will outgrow his childish attachment. Soon after, Vargas insists that Gitano be branded with the rest of the Videgaray herd, and Rafael is forced to assent. When Leonardo hears the news, he rushes to the ranch, shaming Rafael with his tears. Days later, however, Señorita Sanchez reveals that a letter has arrived from Alejandro that once again grants Gitano to the Rosillos. On the next holy day, Leonardo brings Gitano to be blessed by the priest, and after the bull kneels before the clergyman, he receives a double blessing. When Gitano is two years old, he is entered in a public test of bravery at Alejandro’s ranch. Before the ceremony, Rafael promises Leonardo that if the bull proves himself courageous, the boy can keep him. Meanwhile, Alejandro invites the famous bullfighter Fermin Rivera and an American starlet, Marion Randall, to attend the tests with him. As they drive through the ranch, Gitano attacks their car, impressing them with his spirit. They are shocked when Leonardo, showing no fear of Gitano, forcibly pulls the bull away from the car, then rides away on his back. At the ceremony, Maria frets for the safety of her boyfriend, Manuel, who wants to be a bullfighter. As Alejandro tries to explain to Marion why bullfighting is noble rather than cruel, he is distracted by the sight of Gitano in the ring, easily outsmarting the matadors. Too strong for the local bullfighters, Gitano cannot be contained, and soon tramples Manuel. Leonardo is heartbroken, but as Manuel recovers, and Maria thanks her brother for curing him of his desire to be a matador. Over the next months, while Rivera wins the hearts of the Mexican people with his courage and grace in the ring, Alejandro wins trophies at his hobby, car racing. On the day of Leonardo’s graduation, however, as Rafael celebrates in drunken pride, they learn that Alejandro has died in a car crash. The ranch possessions are soon put up for auction, and Vargas, who was impressed by Gitano in the ring, declares that the bull belongs to the ranch, as he bears the Videgaray brand. Leonardo searches for the letter from Alejandro but, unable to find it, is forced to let Vargas return Gitano to the herd. Late that night, Leonardo sneaks into the ranch and calls Gitano to him, then takes the bull back home through the woods. When he stops to sleep for the night, a mountain lion attacks, but Gitano kills it, saving the boy. At home, Rafael chastises Leonardo and convinces him to return the bull to Vargas, who sells Gitano at auction to businessman Dr. Gajona. Upon learning that the bulls will be driven to Mexico City, Leonardo secretly hitches a ride on one of the trucks. In the city, he is amazed by the culture and people, and horrified at the sight of the arena, where Gitano will surely be killed. Leonardo searches throughout the city for Gajona, to no avail. Desperate, the boy stops by a statue of Juarez and, remembering his teacher’s words, is inspired to speak directly to El Presidente. He heads to Juarez’s home, only to learn that the current president lives in the National Palace. As the fights begin in the Plaza de Mexico, an exhausted Leonardo finally reaches the palace and is allowed to see the president. After hearing the boy’s story, the president agrees to write a letter asking Gajona to release the bull. A police escort rushes Leonardo to the arena, but he is too late; Gitano has entered the ring and now fights against Rivera. The fight is long, the bull performing bravely and Rivera fighting valiantly. The matador lances Gitano several times, but cannot kill him, as the bull holds his head too high to allow a stab to hit its mark. The crowd is soon entranced by Gitano, whom the announcer calls “the noblest bull ever,” and begins to call for his release. Although no bull has been spared in the ring since 1937, the chant gains momentum, and the officials finally agree. Thrilled, Leonardo hops into the ring and runs toward Gitano. The crowd is horrified, certain that the furious beast will kill the boy, but Gitano approaches his friend peacefully. As Leonardo hugs Gitano, promising him that “now we can live,” the crowd roars its approval. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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