Time: 125 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography. Nomination for Best Art Direction.
SYNOPSIS: Illiterate peasant Juan Gallardo rises to fame and fortune in the bullfighting arena, returning after years of struggle to his childhood home to claim the heart of his sweetheart. However, success goes to his head, causing him to bring about his own downfall by succumbing to the charms of a wealthy and beautiful patroness, whose attentions destroy not only his homelife, but his confidence in the ring as well.
BOTTOM LINE: This film wasn't exactly on my Must See List, however, I was intrigued by its plot – the rise and fall of a bullfighter, which you don't see everyday. While this sport is probably upsetting to most people, it's grace and beauty, as well as its' danger are showcased here with great respect and dignity. These men don't have to get in the ring to entertain in this way, but their bravery and skill, the training and tradition is impressive and engrossing due to the intense performance of Tyrone Power. He chews his fair share of the scenary, but it goes along with the role of an arrogant man who believes his own press clippings. He is utterly charming and has great chemistry with both Darnell, as his childhood sweetheart who becomes his long-suffering wife, and Hayworth, as the patroness who initially helps him become famous and then ruins his career by stealing his confidence.
Both women play their roles perfectly, as two sides of the female coin. One loving and devoted, the other predatory and callous. Hayworth uses her prodigious physical gifts to their cruelest advantage, taking what she wants and discarding those who fail to please her. Darnell has the less showy role, but her character is no wallflower. She stands up for her man and their marriage; however, it's the fear and desperation she battles with, each time Juan steps into the ring, that will break your heart. No matter how good he is, there's always the chance the bull will win, which I guess is what makes bullfighting so intoxicating. Though a tale as old as time – poor boy makes good then loses everything and learns the value of true love and honor – the unique nature of the setting and location sells it all over again. A great supporting cast, including Quinn, Nazimova and Carradine add spice and drama to the mix. The costume design and art direction bring the bullfighting culture brilliantly to life, delivering added depth to the story. A film I was truly surprised to enjoy so much.