American sportsman Johnny Regan [Robert Stack] goes to a bullfight while holidaying in Mexico and witnesses the great matador Manolo Estrada [Gilbert Roland] in action. The two men meet later that evening and Johnny Regan becomes entranced by Anita de la Vega [Joy Page], a friend of Manolo Estrada’s. Impressed by the world of bullfighting and seeking to impress Anita de la Vega, Johnny Regan becomes Manolo Estrada’s pupil so that he, too, may become a champion torero [bullfighter].

Produced by John Wayne, and based in part on Budd Boetticher’s experiences as a novice bullfighter, and the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ were initially released in a shorter 87-minute cut, reputedly edited by John Ford. In 1986, with the aid of Budd Boetticher and Robert Stack, the complete 124-minute version of the ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ film was restored, revealing the film to be a true masterpiece. Both cuts are presented on this edition, alongside Budd Boetticher’s final work as a director, the 1985 documentary My Kingdom For… which is part autobiography, part history of the bullfighting art of “Rejoneo” (a form of bullfighting in which the principal fighter, the “Rejoneador” is mounted on a highly trained horse).

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1952 Academy Awards®: Nomination: Best Writing and Motion Picture Story for Budd Boetticher and Ray Nazarro.

FILM FACT No.2: ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ is a 1951 drama romance sport film directed and written by Budd Boetticher starring Robert Stack, Joy Page and Gilbert Roland. Filmed on location in Mexico, the film focused on the realities of the dangerous sport of bullfighting. During production, one stunt man died. Budd Boetticher, who had experience in bullfighting, used a semi documentary approach in filming the sport and the lives of matadors. Budd Boetticher says the film got made because John Wayne liked the story. Budd Boetticher says that John Wayne and John Ford cut 42 minutes out of the film so that it would be less than 90 minutes, and was shown as a “B” picture. It took me forty years to get it back the way I wanted it. It was a helluva blow at the time, I tell you.

Cast: Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Virginia Grey, John Hubbard, Katy Jurado, Antonio Gomez, Ismael Pérez, Rodolfo Acosta, Ruben Padilla, Darío Ramírez, Luis Briones, Luís Castro, Ricardo Torres “Bombita” (archive footage), Alfonso Ramírez Calesero, Andres Blando, Antonio Velasquez, Juan Estrada, Manuel Jiménez “Chicuelo,” Ward Bond (Narrator) (uncredited), Félix Briones (uncredited), Paul Fix (uncredited) and Gerald Mohr (Trailer Narrator) (uncredited)

Director: Budd Boetticher

Producers: Budd Boetticher and John Wayne

Screenplay: Budd Boetticher (story), Ray Nazarro (story) and James Edward Grant (screenplay)

Composer: Victor Young

Costume Supervisor: Adele Palmer

Cinematography: Jack Draper (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p and 480i (Black-and-White)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio
English: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 124 minutes [Director’s Cut]
Running Time: 87 minutes [Theatrical Cut]

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Republic Pictures Corp. / Paramount Pictures / Powerhouse / INDICATOR

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ [1951] is a Budd Boetticher film that was produced by John Wayne and had never worked with Budd Boetticher as an actor, but he was an uncredited producer on another film with him later. It comes at the start of Budd Boetticher’s run as one of the great directors of the 1950’s, but it’s not in the genre he’s best known for, especially Western films.

Bullfighting in Mexico is at the centre of the film. Director Budd Boetticher had been a bullfighter, so it has an autobiographical side and that might be why it’s one of his better movies. It stars Robert Stack plays the character Johnny Regan, a young gringo who goes down to Mexico to train with a famous Mexican bullfighter. The kid has some Hollywood connections, so clearly reflects the director’s experience. Johnny Regan is a brash, self-centred American who is trying to learn from an experienced matador. However, he is not giving the lessons his full attention — Johnny Regan is trying to impress Anita de la Vega, who is played by actress Joy Page.

The characterisations are all really great, most likely because the director knew this world inside and out. The cinematographer was Jack Draper, an American who mainly shot Mexican films after a start in the silent era in the USA —also unique for a Hollywood film in this era. Jack Draper shot part of Orson Welles’s never-finished ‘Don Quixote.’ It’s really well-shot, especially the location filming. But unfortunately there is a hint of typical lazy Mexican stereotypes.

It was all shot on location in Mexico, which was rare for a relatively big American movie at that time. It has a very good sense of place, and shows the reality of being a bullfighter, which is not great. The film was taken away from Budd Boetticher by John Wayne, who then reported got John Ford to chop it down into a B-movie. It took the director Budd Boetticher 35 years to get this cut to be released on this Blu-ray release, with help from Robert Stack — they got back together while making a documentary about bullfighting, which is also one of the extras on this release.

This is a beautiful, compelling and honest film. It is imbued with the good kind of machismo notions of honour, sacrifice, and the nobility of effort. Instead of cluttering up the film with lots of story and complications, and director Budd Boetticher has delved inside the heart and mind of this “gringos” to some a very so called strange sport.

The highly romantic ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ offers breath-taking bullfighting scenes superior to anything in Hollywood productions. Even more important is the sense of cultural authenticity: we’re given an insider’s view of Mexican “alta sociedad” where society classified the class of people who are wealthy, fashionable or of high rank in any area and it really was in 1950’s. The movie gets things right from the start. Top matadors are far more respected than mere celebrities. There’s no condescension here — Johnny Regan is the outsider who must adapt to new customs.

My only addition to the other comments is the photography is remarkable for its era, almost an outdoor “film noir” romantic realism in black-and-white. On top of all that, the film was produced by John Wayne for Republic Picture, and early examples of American filmmaking in an international context.

Finally, if you love bullfighting, this film is definitely a “must-view” because it goes into the bullfighting in some detail and even mixes in some live footage (in the longer version of the film). I would suggest the longer version, anyway, because that's the way the filmmaker intended the audience to see his work. Given a choice, always see the longer version and then make up your own mind whether it should have been cut or not?

Special thanks to: Budd Boetticher, Robert Stack, Directors Guild of America, The Library of Congress and Republic Pictures Corp.

Prior to its original theatrical release, thirty-seven minutes footage was removed from Budd Boetticher footage was removed from Budd Boetticher’s cut of ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY,’ reducing it to a required length for inclusion in a double bill.

The resulting 87 minutes cut contains many unique elements, including scenes that have been assembled differently, re-times transitions, and altered audio, making it not just a shorter version, but also an intriguing historical variant.

In order to present the 87 minutes [Theatrical Cut] authentically, they have opted to source it in its entirety from a rare original NTSC VHS Tape edition. As a result, both image and sound exhibit the technical limitations of the format.     

Please Note: The ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ film has been preserved by the UCLA Film, Television & Radio Archives Funding provided by The AFI/NEA Film Preservation Program.


ESTA NOTCHE (Tonight) (Music by Victor Young) (Lyrics by Jack Elliott) [Spanish lyrics by Aaron González]

CIELO ANDALUZ (Written by Rafael Gazcón)

LA VIRGEN de la MACARENA (Written by Bernardino Bautista Monterde and Antonio Ortiz Calero)

HOW STRANGE (Written by Victor Young and Peggy Lee)

LUTO en el ALMA (Written by Claudio Estrada)

MEXICAN HAT DANCE (uncredited) (Traditional)

* * * * *

Blu-ray Image Quality – Republic Pictures Corp., Paramount Pictures, Powerhouse and INDICATOR presents us the 124 minutes [Director’s Cut] film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ with a wonderful sharp 1080p black-and-white image and is viewed in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The Blu-ray was sourced from the a decent master, and really looks good in high-definition, especially with professional cinematographer Jack Draper pulls out all the stops and makes the black-and-white image presentation sings with perfection. There is very little normal film damage to the film, but unfortunately you get to view a lot of white speckles now and again throughout the film. As to the 87 minutes [Theatrical Cut] of ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ you get to view it with a 480i quality image. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Republic Pictures Corp., Paramount Pictures, Powerhouse and INDICATOR brings us the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ with a really good 1.0 LPCM Mono Audio experience. The audio is nicely rounded and also gives us a good dynamic range and is also very clear, and has well-modulated sound with no distortion or age-related surface noise, pops, or crackles. Balance is very good, but however, occasionally you will notice small unevenness, but does not spoil you enjoyment of the movie. Interestingly, the transitions between the previously available footage and the newly incorporated footage are very smooth and easy to understand. Victor Young’s robust and dramatic film music score is extremely good. So all in all, is a very good effort on the part of INDICATOR Blu-ray release! 

* * * * *

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Two presentations of the film: the complete 124-minute version, restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive; and the original 87-minute theatrical cut. This is a UK premiere release on Blu-ray.

Special Feature: Audio Commentary with Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme [Audio only] [2022] [1080p] [1.37:1] [123:18] With this featurette, we get to hear this audio commentary with critics and authors Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme. As the film starts we get to be introduced to both of them and explains what they do when not doing audio commentaries, and Glenn Kenny informs us that he is an American film critic and journalist and writes for The New York Times and RogerEbert.com website. Whereas Farran Smith Nehme informs us that she has written about film and film history for the New York Post, Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, Film Comment, the Village Voice, and Sight & Sound as well as for her blog, Self-Styled Siren and of course are here to do their personal audio commentary and talk about the 1951 film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’ On top of all that, because they are talking about the Director’s Cut which is the longer version of the film, I am only going to give you the highlights of this long Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme audio commentary. They praise the director Budd Boetticher, especially his dedication for the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY,’ especially for the fact Budd Boetticher was an American who for a period lived in Mexico and actually participated as a Matador, and they say that is why Budd Boetticher was so dedicated in making a film about Bullfighting They talk about the actor Robert Stack and his character in the film, who was acting like a jerk at the beginning of the film and his character’s journey throughout the film in finding himself. They talk about the American author Ernest Hemingway who wrote a book entitled “Death in the Afternoon” which is a non-fiction book about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish bullfighting, published in 1932. The book provides a look at the history and the Spanish traditions of bullfighting. It also contains a deeper contemplation on the nature of fear and courage, and feels that is why director Budd Boetticher was influenced by that Ernest Hemingway book in directing the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY,’ and they also say about Ernest Hemingway that he was a massive supporter of the Spanish Civil War, but unfortunately back the wrong side that lost that war. They talk about the sequence in the bullring when a belligerent moronic man in the audience taunts Manolo Estrada [Gilbert Roland] as a failed bullfighter and you see him asking  Manolo Estrada’s wife to allow him to perform with the very dangerous bull, even though he had a damage wrist on one of his hand, but of course his wife reluctantly allows him to perform in the ring, nut of course we see Manolo Estrada’s wife is extremely angry with that belligerent moron, walks over to him with a sword and threatens to run him through with that sword if he does not shut up for being a belligerent moronic idiot. When we get to the scene in the steam room with Robert Stack and Gilbert Roland, and Glenn Kenny thought it might be a slightly “Homo Erotic” scene with both actors showing off their bare chests and Glenn Kenny commenting on Robert Stack’s amazing shaved muscular chest. When we get to chapter 10, we see Robert Stack in his full Bullfighting gear and is ready to go in the bullring and to perform to his great ability against a vicious bull, but Farran Smith Nehme thought Robert Stack’s costume was so beautiful. At chapter 12, Farran Smith Nehme comments on the scene with Robert Stack performing with the vicious bull, and says, “If you see this as a triumphant victory, you are missing a great deal of the point of the movie, it is about redemption, especially for Robert Stack and not about triumph.” As we get to the end of the film, Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme says, “Do you agree that Bud Boetticher’s bullfighting movie is one of his best, and it is certainly and interesting film of that period when the film was released. It has a lot of atmosphere and this shot of Robert Stack and Joy Page together after the big bullfighting scene is beautiful, and I think we are done, and thank you for listening to our audio commentary for the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY,’ and the pleasure of talking about the film. At that point the audio commentary ends.            

Special Feature: An Evening with Budd Boetticher [Audio only] [2001] [1080p] [1.37:1] [91:13] With this featurette, we get to hear an audio recording of the director Budd Boetticher in conversation with film preservationist Robert Gitt. The interview was conducted by Robert Gitt, at the Pacific Film Archive Theater, California on the 17th March, 2001, but just before the main interview starts, we get a personal introduction by senior film curator Edith R. Kramer. The following audio presentation was recorded for archival purposes, rather than commercial distribution, and may exhibit a range of technical problems as a consequence. Its importance as a unique archival document makes its inclusion here essential. We hope you agree. Here Budd Boetticher answered questions after a screening of his recently reconstructed original version of the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’ Also present is Robert Gitt, who was in charge of the reconstruction, from UCLA Film & Television Archive. This really is a tremendous program because Budd Boetticher discusses all about “Old Hollywood” with a really superb sense of humour and then shares plenty of invaluable stories about some of its greatest icons and the production of film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’ As we hear the conversation, we get to view some of the Director’s Cut of the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’

Special Feature: My Kingdom For… [1985] [1080p] [1.37:1] [84:54] With this featurette, we get to view Budd Boetticher’s final film as a director, and is an partly an autobiographical documentary about his retirement and bullfighting and features actor Robert Stack who also narrates for the documentary and it also shows us Budd Boetticher’s dedication in spending time training horses. But before the featurette begins, we get a quote and it says, “Gods and heroes are depicted on well-trained horses, and he who is able to emulate them will be looked upon in admiration. For a noble horse in all his beauty is something so wonderful that he captivates all beholders, old and young alike.” XENOPHON 400 B.C. When Robert Stack and his wife Rosemarie Stack visits Budd Boetticher and his wife Mary Boetticher to attend the showing off their exquisite Boetticher’s Portuguese Lusitano and Spanish Andalusian horses, Budd Boetticher takes the opportunity to narrate the proud history of these outstanding horses and their central development of the “Rejoneador” (name given to a bullfighter who fights the bull on horseback) and the kind of demanding training necessary to bring both horses and riders to performance perfection. This featurette documentary was filmed at The San Diego Country Estates, neighbourhood in Ramona, California, USA. Contributors include: Robert and Rosemarie Stack, Budd and Mary Boetticher, Don Carlos Arruza, Carlos Arruza, Gloria Ayling, Alison Campbell, Richard Thorman, Charlie Taylor, Lisa Palm, Jose Maria Prado, Richard Edmunds, Rod and Sandra Campbell, Laura Friery, Nancy Zelonka, Kenny Newman, Holly Pillsbury, Pamela Reeve Kely, Emily Thorman and Alfonzo Ortiz, Jr.

Special Feature: A Rollercoaster and a Merry-Go-Round: Mary Boetticher on Budd Boetticher [2022] [480i / 1080p] [1.37:1 / 1.78:1] [35:42] With this featurette, we get to view a very interesting interview with Mary Boetticher wife of the late great Mr. Budd Boetticher and reflects on her early career with the love of dancing, but at the same time had the fear of horses, but also discusses her late husband's love for horses as well as their marriage, but especially director Budd Boetticher approach to filmmaking. Also, there are some pretty interesting comments about Budd Boetticher's early days in the film business and his creative ideas as well as the mishandling of ‘Two Mules for Sister Sara’ and how the director Budd Boetticher crew  eventually became Sam Peckinpah's crew. The restoration and reconstruction of the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ is addressed. With this featurette, we get to view clips from the documentary “My Kingdom For” and also of the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’ This is a really fantastic featurette and is also totally enjoyable, because especially Mary Boetticher who is a very interesting lady and is full of fascinating joyous anecdotes about her husband and their marriage together. 

Special Feature: SABADO presents Budd Boetticher: One on One [1989] [480i] [1.37:1] [57:21] With this featurette, we get to view an archival featurette that takes a closer look at the life and illustrious career of the director Budd Boetticher and especially his incredible career working in the film industry of Hollywood. A very large portion of the archival featurette is structured around an interview with Budd Boetticher and his wife Mary Boetticher, but Budd Boetticher also discusses his affection for bullfighting as well. Throughout this featurette, we get to view clips from the “: My Kingdom For,” but also clips from Budd Boetticher’s films that includes ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY,’ ‘Comanche Station,’ ‘The Tall T,’ ‘ARRUZA’ and ‘A Time For Dying.’ This featurette is hosted by Tony Thomas.

Special Feature: Theatrical Trailer [1951] [480i] [1.37:1] [3:00] With this featurette, we get to view the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’

Special Feature: Image Gallery: With this featurette, we get to view 29 black-and-white and colour 1080p images of a large collection of vintage photographs and promotional materials related to the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’

BONUS: An amazing Limited edition 36-page booklet featuring a new essay by Matthew Thrift entitled “!AJA, TORO! – BUDD BOETTICHER’S FIESTA BRAVA.” “A LETTER FROM BUDD BOETTICHER” an archival letter from Budd Boetticher discussing his love of bullfighting. “KATY JURADO IN HOLLYWOOD” is archival profiles of Katy Jurado. “CRITICAL RESPONSE” an overview of contemporary critical responses towards the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’ An article entitled “THAT’S AS FAR AS I GO” by Jeff Billington on the documentary film “My Kingdom For . . .” About The “Presentations. Special Thanks. Acknowledgements. Lots of wonderful black-and-white photos related to the film ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY.’

Finally, ‘BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY’ [1951] There is an interesting use of sound also, where director Budd Boetticher effectively uses thunder as an ominous counterpoint during two key scenes in the movie. Highly recommended is the 124 minute restored version of the film. Robert Stack with blonde hair? Could that really be "Elliot Ness?" Well, it was the early 1950’s, before Robert Stack made a name for himself with the TV hit, "The Untouchables. For those looking back at this film for the first time, as I did in the 1990’s, this was a weird sight. The 124 minute "restored" version and it looked nicely-photographed in black-and-white and very detailed about the sport of bullfighting. There were a number of scenes where I started to get bored, but that soon passes after a while. This is a beautiful, compelling and honest film. It is imbued with the good kind of machismo – notions of honour, sacrifice, and the nobility of effort. Instead of cluttering up the film with lots of story and complications, Budd Boetticher has delved inside the heart and mind of this (gringos) strange occupation. Don't hesitate to see this extraordinary film. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

Back to homepage