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Johnny Regan, a U.S. citizen, goes to Mexico and takes up bullfighting as a lark, hoping to impress a Mexican beauty, Anita de la Vega. His lighthearted studying, under the tutelage of aging matador Manolo Estrada, leads to tragedy. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
I was surprised by this one. It is an excellent introduction to La Fiesta Brava, showing, for example, many versions of the Veronica as performed by the best Mexican matadors of the late 40s. Luis Procuna, Alfredo Leal, Silverio Perez and the great Carlos Arruza are absentees. Stack, apparently, mastered enough of the technique to perform ably with a heifer -- and that itself is not easy. The background of the corrida -- particularly the tienta (or testing) -- is well documented and the vast Plaza Mexico appears with dramatic effect -- both filled and totally empty. Some of the b/w sequences in the bullring are breathtaking. The problem with the film is Stack's character, who behaves very badly very consistently and really does not seem to learn from his vivid errors. Furthermore, he makes no effort to master even the rudiments of Spanish. Otherwise, the film is compelling. I also recommend the Azteca film of about the same period, "Torero," a documentary about Luis Procuna, starring Procuna. He does not need a stand-in. As an introduction to bullfighting that does not show much of the picing or the actual kill, I recommend "Bullfighter/Lady."
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