The Magnificent Matador (1955)

90 or 94 mins | Drama | June 1955

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HISTORY

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 Jun 1952, LAT 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 15 Apr 1954 HR 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 Nov 1954 DV 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, HR noted that Anne Baxter was about to be signed to co-star with Quinn, and in Sep 1954, another HR news item stated that Michael Pate had been assigned to the second male lead. Neither appears in the released picture, however. Several HR news items stated that leading matador Carlos Arruza would appear in the production, but the onscreen credits ... More Less

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 Jun 1952, LAT 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 15 Apr 1954 HR 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 Nov 1954 DV 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, HR noted that Anne Baxter was about to be signed to co-star with Quinn, and in Sep 1954, another HR news item stated that Michael Pate had been assigned to the second male lead. Neither appears in the released picture, however. Several HR 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 HR 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. HR 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 Mar 1955 HR 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 Jul 1954 HR 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 Aug and Nov 1960 DV 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. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 May 1955.
---
Daily Variety
16 Nov 1954.
---
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1954.
---
Daily Variety
18 May 55
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1960.
---
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1960.
---
Film Daily
18 May 55
p. 10.
Hollywood Citizen-News
16 Jun 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1954
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1954
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 55
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 May 55
p. 442.
New York Times
25 May 55
p. 38.
Variety
18 May 55
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Edward L. Alperson Presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Prod supv
Scr supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"The Magnificent Matador," music by Edward L. Alperson, Jr., lyrics by Paul Herrick, sung by Kitty White.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Number One
Release Date:
June 1955
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 24 May 1955
Production Date:
9 November--22 December 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 May 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5646
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Three Color Eastman by Pathé
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
90 or 94
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17430
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 ... +


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. +

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

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