Arruza (1972)

PG | 73 or 75 mins | Documentary, Drama | May 1972

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HISTORY

The film's working title was Ole! The viewed print contained a copyright statement for the Alpha Corporation, but the film, which was released in English and Spanish-language versions, was not registered for copyright. Although the written onscreen credits of the viewed print were in Spanish, the narration was in English. There is no dialogue or synchronized sound in the film, which consists of spoken narration or music played over filmed images. The film ends with the following written epilogue: “No one is really dead until the last man who remembers him is dead, and so Carlos Arruza must live forever.” The film's closing credits contain the following written acknowledgment: "Filmed in Mexico and at Estudios Churubusco-Azteca, S.A., Mexico, D. F. and filmed by the members of the Syndicate of Photographers."
       In his autobiographical account of the filming of Arruza , director Budd Boetticher, who directed the 1951 drama Bullfighter and the Lady (see below), noted that in 1955 he decided to direct a “real bullfight” film featuring the best matador in the world. Boetticher, an aficionado of the sport, decided to focus on his friend Carlos Arruza, a preeminent torero who had retired from the ring in 1953. Weary of retirement, Arruza decided to extend his career by becoming a rejoneador , or a bullfighter on horseback. Although a 1957 DV news item noted that Boetticher would partner with Randolph Scott, the star of many Westerns directed by Boetticher, Scott was not involved in the production. According to Boetticher’s autobiography, the director began filming background bullfights in Nogales, Mexico, on 5 ... More Less

The film's working title was Ole! The viewed print contained a copyright statement for the Alpha Corporation, but the film, which was released in English and Spanish-language versions, was not registered for copyright. Although the written onscreen credits of the viewed print were in Spanish, the narration was in English. There is no dialogue or synchronized sound in the film, which consists of spoken narration or music played over filmed images. The film ends with the following written epilogue: “No one is really dead until the last man who remembers him is dead, and so Carlos Arruza must live forever.” The film's closing credits contain the following written acknowledgment: "Filmed in Mexico and at Estudios Churubusco-Azteca, S.A., Mexico, D. F. and filmed by the members of the Syndicate of Photographers."
       In his autobiographical account of the filming of Arruza , director Budd Boetticher, who directed the 1951 drama Bullfighter and the Lady (see below), noted that in 1955 he decided to direct a “real bullfight” film featuring the best matador in the world. Boetticher, an aficionado of the sport, decided to focus on his friend Carlos Arruza, a preeminent torero who had retired from the ring in 1953. Weary of retirement, Arruza decided to extend his career by becoming a rejoneador , or a bullfighter on horseback. Although a 1957 DV news item noted that Boetticher would partner with Randolph Scott, the star of many Westerns directed by Boetticher, Scott was not involved in the production. According to Boetticher’s autobiography, the director began filming background bullfights in Nogales, Mexico, on 5 May 1958. Boetticher spent the next three years filming bullfights in Mexico with cinematographers Lucien Ballard and Carlos Carbajal, interrupting his schedule in the fall of 1959 to return to Los Angeles to direct the film The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (see below). Boetticher had planned to cast his then-wife Debra Paget in the role of Arruza’s wife, Maria Carmen Arruza, but, according to an Apr 1971 DV article, when the director ran out of money in 1961 and started to drink heavily, Paget divorced him, and his business manager, in a move to seize control of Boetticher’s film, arranged to have him institutionalized in a sanitarium against his will.
       Arruza literally rescued Boetticher from the sanitarium, after which Boetticher, retaining control of his film, decided to cast his then girl friend, actress Elsa Cardenas, as Maria Aruzza. After several other financial setbacks, Boetticher, with the help of Beldon Butterfield, who is credited as one of the film’s producers, raised $15,000 to film Aruzza’s climactic bullfight at the Plaza Mexico, the biggest bullring in the world at the time. Boetticher’s autobiography noted that in addition to the film’s financial shortfall, Arruza’s performance at the Plaza Mexico was delayed by the fact that the temperamental bullfighter refused to appear at the plaza until new management took over. According to Boetticher's autobiography and a 1 Jun 1970 Masters Seminar lecture delivered by the director at the American Film Institute, ten cameras were used to film Arruza’s bullfights on 23 Jan and 6 Feb 1966, after which Boetticher and editor George Crone spliced the fights together. The film’s final sequence, the filming of a fiesta at Arruza’s new ranch, was to be completed in May. However, on 20 May 1966 Aruzza was killed when the car in which he was riding skidded off the road. Crone died shortly after Arruza, in Jun 1966. Following Aruzza’s death, Boetticher decided that Mari Arruza should portray herself, forcing him to delay filming for a suitable period of mourning and also reshoot all the scenes in which Cardenas had portrayed Maria.
       Still short of funds to complete the picture, Boetticher screened Arruza for director John Sturges, who agreed to finance the rest of the film through his Alpha Corporation. The final shooting was completed over three days in Feb 1967, and at that time, the English narration was spoken by Jason Robards. After Boetticher assembled a print of the film, Sturges recut it with his editor, Ferris Webster, and rewrote the opening narration. Boetticher, whose contract with Sturges assured him complete artistic control, re-edited the film and arranged for Anthony Quinn to redo Robard’s narration. Most reviews credit Quinn as the narrator; however, the viewed print was the Sturges version of the film, featuring a narration by Robards, who in the opening sequence describes the Plaza Mexico as the “biggest bullring in the world.” Boetticher stated in his autobiography that Sturges inserted that description, and that the film's narration originally started with the words “Occasionally a man is born whose life is so different, so dangerous…this is the story of Carlos Arruza.” According to Boetticher's autobiography, Sturges also deleted the narration that accompanied Arruza’s car ride to the Plaza Mexico for his final bullfight. The viewed version contained no narration over Arruza’s drive.
       An Aug 1966 DV news item noted that Arruza’a death caused an upsurge of interest in the film, and at that time, Avco Embassy was negotiating for the rights to worldwide distribution while Columbia was negotiating for distribution rights in Mexico and South America. According to an Oct 1968 DV news item, Columbia had picked up the worldwide distribution rights for the film. The film was initially shown in the U.S. on 25 Oct 1968 at the San Francisco Film Festival. A 1966 DV article noted that Barnaby Conrad, a member of the festival commission and a bullfight aficionado, arranged for Aruzza to open the festival. An Apr 1968 DV news item noted that the film was also to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1968. The film’s official world premiere was in Tijuana, Mexico, on 22 May 1971. At that time, despite earlier reports, Boetticher still had not secured a distributor, and according to the May 1971 HR review, Boetticher was not sure how he would release it. In an Apr 1971 DV article, Boetticher stated that he chose Tijuana to make the screening more accessible for “many more from Hollywood to attend.” In addition to the screening, the weekend featured Boetticher performing in a bullfight exhibition for the audience.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Jul 1971.
---
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1957.
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Daily Variety
26 Jul 1966.
---
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1966.
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1967.
---
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1968.
---
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1968
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1971
p. 1, 6, 8.
Daily Variety
25 May 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 633-35.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1971.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
30 May 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1972
Section IV, p. 14.
New York Times
24 Aug 1972.
---
Variety
3 Aug 1966.
---
Variety
30 Oct 1968.
---
Variety
24 Dec 1968.
---
Variety
16 Jun 1971
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Una Pelicula de Budd Boetticher
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Productore Associado
Productore Associado
WRITERS
Narracion escrita con la colabracion de
Narr wrt by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Director de Fotografia
FILM EDITORS
Editore
Editore
MUSIC
Musica compuesta y dirigada por
VISUAL EFFECTS
SOURCES
SONGS
"Silverio Perez," words and music by Agustin Lara
"Mano a Mano," words and music by Miguel Prado
"Carlos Arruza," words and music by Rafael Orpeza
+
SONGS
"Silverio Perez," words and music by Agustin Lara
"Mano a Mano," words and music by Miguel Prado
"Carlos Arruza," words and music by Rafael Orpeza
"Tristeza," words and music by Arnulfo Vega
"La Virgen de la Macarena," words and music by Monterde y Calero
"Cielo Andaluz," words and music by Rafael Gaslon.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Ole!
Release Date:
May 1972
Premiere Information:
Tijuana, Mexico premiere: 22 May 1971
Los Angeles opening: 24 May 1972
Production Date:
5 May 1958--February 1967 in Mexico and at Estudios Churubusco
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Duration(in mins):
73 or 75
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1953, Carlos Arruza, one of the two top bullfighters in the world, decides to retire following the death of his rival, Manolete. Arruza buys Pasteje, one of the finest bull-breeding ranches in Mexico, and settles down with his wife Mari and three children to raise fighting bulls. At Pasteje, Arruza and several of his matador friends are shown fighting cows in the tienta , or testing ring. Because a bull receives its bravery from its mother, the courage of the cow is believed to determine the nature of her offspring. Another reason for facing off with the cows, rather than the bulls, is that a bull must never see a cape before entering the ring, or he would learn too quickly how to elude the man wielding the cape. On the ranch, Arruza develops a fascination with the art of rejoneo , or bullfighting on horseback. He decides to become a rejoneador and buys a special breed of Portuguese horse trained for the sport. After mastering this form of mounted bullfighting, Arruza performs at the Plaza de Torres in Nogales, Mexico, where the crowd gives him the highest honor by demanding that he forgo the traditional kill from horseback and instead dismount for the final thrust, thus altering the traditional form of rejoneo . Deciding to retire once again, Arruza holds his last official fight at El Toreo, an arena in Mexico City. There Arruza achieves the unique distinction of being cheered by the crowd three times: once as a toreador , once ... +


In 1953, Carlos Arruza, one of the two top bullfighters in the world, decides to retire following the death of his rival, Manolete. Arruza buys Pasteje, one of the finest bull-breeding ranches in Mexico, and settles down with his wife Mari and three children to raise fighting bulls. At Pasteje, Arruza and several of his matador friends are shown fighting cows in the tienta , or testing ring. Because a bull receives its bravery from its mother, the courage of the cow is believed to determine the nature of her offspring. Another reason for facing off with the cows, rather than the bulls, is that a bull must never see a cape before entering the ring, or he would learn too quickly how to elude the man wielding the cape. On the ranch, Arruza develops a fascination with the art of rejoneo , or bullfighting on horseback. He decides to become a rejoneador and buys a special breed of Portuguese horse trained for the sport. After mastering this form of mounted bullfighting, Arruza performs at the Plaza de Torres in Nogales, Mexico, where the crowd gives him the highest honor by demanding that he forgo the traditional kill from horseback and instead dismount for the final thrust, thus altering the traditional form of rejoneo . Deciding to retire once again, Arruza holds his last official fight at El Toreo, an arena in Mexico City. There Arruza achieves the unique distinction of being cheered by the crowd three times: once as a toreador , once as a rejoneador , and once for the quality of the bulls he has bred. Returning to his private life, Arruza sells Pasteje and builds a new ranch called Rancho Maria after his wife. Soon, however, Arruza becomes obsessed with fighting in the Plaza Mexico, the largest bullring in the world, and determined to fill the arena’s over 50,000 seats, schedules another final fight. Arruza thrills the packed stadium, and once again retires to the cheers of the ecstatic crowd. Arruza’s life is tragically cut short several months later when, on 20 May 1966, he is killed in an automobile accident after the driver fell asleep and skidded off the road. +

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

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