MAGNIFICENT MATADOR, THE (aka: THE NUMBER ONE)
(director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: Charles Lang/story by Budd Boetticher; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Richard Cahoon; music: Raoul Kraushaar; cast: Maureen O’Hara (Karen Harrison), Anthony Quinn(Luís Santos),Manuel Rojas (Rafael Reyes), Richard Denning (Mark Russell ), Lola Albright (Mona Wilton), Thomas Gomez (Don David), William Brooks Ching (Jody Wilton), Jesús “Chucho” Solórzano (Himself), Eduardo Noriega (Miguel), Lorraine Chanel (Sarita Sebastian); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward L. Alperson; 20th Century Fox; 1955)
“Ole! A shrill bullfight story with a contrived soap opera romance between an aging celebrated Mexican bullfighter and a fawning wealthy American.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Ole! A shrill bullfight story with a contrived soap opera romance between an aging celebrated Mexican bullfighter and a fawning wealthy American society woman. Director Budd Boetticher (“Missing Juror”/”Seminole”/”Bullfighter and the Lady”)is good on the local bullfighting color, but weak on the overwrought melodramatics. It’s based on the story written by the director and the script is handled by Charles Lang.
On the night before a big bullfight in El Toreo, in Mexico City, where the legendary Mexican matador Luís Santos (Anthony Quinn) is to appear with his 18-year-old protégéRafael Reyes (Manuel Rojas), Luis has a dream with the premonition of death and believes in the dream so much that he risks ruining his illustrious reputation by running away from the match and angering the crowd into thinking he’s lost his nerve. Society lady Karen Harrison (Maureen O’Hara), who knew the matador previously, follows him in her car and persuades the reluctant brooding diva to hide-out from the media in her exclusive ranch.
Warning: spoiler to follow.
While Luis anguishes over his reason for not fighting, without telling a soul, Karen must deal with her boorish drunken rejected American lover Mark Russell (Richard Denning) and to get Luis to open up about what’s bothering him. When they stay-over at the ranch of Don David (Thomas Gomez), Luis’s trusted friend and the supplier of first-class bulls to the ring, Luis reveals to Karen his closely guarded secret. Karen then talks him into appearing in the ring with the idol-worshiping Raphael, who we at last learn, if we haven’t figured it out already, that Rafael is his illegitimate son that he provided for but never acknowledged when his girlfriend died at childbirth. We also learn that the dream had his son dying and he didn’t know how to prevent that but by not fighting that day.
REVIEWED ON 2/6/2012 GRADE: C+