Movie Mirrors Index

The Brave One

(1956 c 100')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Written by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, a Mexican boy loves his pet calf and tries to save him from dying in a bull ring.

         In rural Mexico men tell Leonardo (Michel Ray) and his father Rafael Rosillo (Rodolfo Hoyos Jr.) that they have to take their cow. During a thunder storm Leonardo wakes up, gets dressed, and goes outside looking for their cow. He finds her laying down and picks up their new calf. He carries the calf.

         In the morning the rain has stopped, and his mother Maria tells Rafael he is still sleeping. They find the calf with him. Leonardo wakes up and asks if he can stay home from school and keep the calf in the house. Leonardo brings the calf outside, and he suckles from a goat.

         In school the woman teacher tells them about how Maximilian came to Mexico. She says Benito Juarez was an Indian, but he became president of Mexico. She dismisses the class for the day. Leonardo asks her to help him write a letter about his calf. He says the cow was given to his father by the Governor.

         The goat tries to keep the calf away, and the family laughs. Leonardo runs with his calf to school and is late. The class is singing, and the calf looks in the window and knocks over a potted plant. Leonardo goes out and pulls it by the tail.

         At home Leonardo eats while he watches the growing calf charge like a bull. On the grass he holds his hat and lets the bull charge at him. Then he uses a red cape with the calf in a corral. His father tells him not to play with the cape. Otherwise he will not be a charging bull in the ring but a murderer; it is against the law. He tells the boy to wash up, and he wipes the face of the calf.

         A man on a horse brings Rafael a letter about Gitano, the bull. The teacher dismisses the class. Rafael leads away Gitano. Leonardo comes home and looks for Gitano. Maria tells him he is gone. Leonard says no and runs off. He finds his father with the branding iron, and he is upset they took him away. Rafael says he is with the herd and tells Leonardo to wait. He sees Gitano being roped by cowboys. They push the young bull down, and Rafael brands him. Gitano gets up, and the overseer says he is a brave animal. Gitano joins the herd, and Leonardo shouts for him to come back.

         That evening Rafael tells Leonardo to eat, and they sit down to dinner. Later Maria tells him it is time for bed. His father warns him that the bull will cause him sorrow some day. Leonardo runs to Gitano, pets him, and tells him not to worry.

         Outside the classroom Leonard tells Senora Sanchez he is not hungry. In class she asks them the dates of Morello. She asks Leonard, and he does not know. Federico gives the information. She tells Leonardo a letter came from Don Alejandro, and the calf belongs to Leonardo. He runs home and finds Gitano grazing.

         On a holiday Leonardo combs his hair and says he is taking Gitano to be blessed. The priest comes out of the church and shakes holy water on the animals people brought.

         Leonard comes back late for dinner. Rafael says Gitano will go and fight. Leonardo asks if he is brave, can he be kept on the ranch as a seed bull. Rafael says he can if he is brave.

         A procession of cars with the bullfighter is stopped by Gitano. Leonardo arrives and kicks the bull. He meets Don Alejandro (Carlos Navarro) and Marion Randall (Joi Lansing). Leonardo says the bull is Gitano, and he broke both headlights. He says he is poor, but he will work to pay for the damage. Alejandro says he will take care of it, and he asks him to remove his friend. Leonardo gets on the bull and rides him.

         People dance at a restaurant. The next day Alejandro and Marion watch the bulls play with the boys in the ring. Marion says bull-fighting is cruel, but he says the English hunting a fox is cruel too. The first bull does not do much, and Alejandro says to put him down for beef. Gitano comes out and charges the horse and the toreadors. The horse is down, and Gitano mauls a man. Three men carry off the man Manuel (Carlos Fernandez). Leonardo cries.

         That evening at the restaurant Alejandro warns Marion her heart may be broken. Leonardo asks a woman about Manuel, and she says he will never work with the bulls again.

         Alejandro wins the Golden Ear as Spain’s outstanding matador of the year. Another year Rivera is the greatest matador.

         Children sing, and the School Inspector presents diplomas at the elementary school graduation, and Leonardo graduates. Leonardo reads in the newspaper that Alejandro was killed in an automobile race.

         At the auction Leonardo looks for the letter that says Gitano is his, but he can’t remember. That night he opens a gate and lets Gitano out. They run away together. They stop, and Leonardo lays down to sleep. A cougar approaches, and Gitano protects the boy by fighting the cougar. Gitano kills the cougar, and Leonardo washes his wounds.

         Rafael finds them and says they must go home. Leonardo asks why he cringes before them, and his father tells him not to insult him. They go together, and Leonardo says he is sorry. They auction Gitano for 7,000 pesos. Leonardo says the bull was given to him by Don Alejandro, but he does not have the letter.

         The bulls are being taken to Mexico City, and Leonardo gets on a truck. A man drinks tequila and says he lives in Mexico City. He falls asleep. In the morning the man wakes up Leonardo in Mexico City. He sees the monument to their independence, and they arrive at the biggest bull ring in the world. Leonardo looks at the empty stadium. He talks to Gitano. The man tells him the impresario is downtown at the ticket office.

         Leonardo runs in the streets to the ticket office, but he is told he is not there. He looks at the tomb of Juarez, hears his teacher’s voice, and decides to go to the Presidente. He asks directions and runs there. He asks to see the Presidente, but he is told the castle is now a museum. A boy selling newspapers tells him to go to the palace.

         A packed stadium watches the show. Leonardo walks past guards. The first bull enters the ring and charges the matador. Leonardo asks for the Presidente, but he is told the office is closed on Sunday. The Presidente is at home. The second bull comes out and fights. Leonardo asks for the Presidente at the gate. He is told it is impossible, and he cries. He sees a car going in and gets in the trunk. The driver listens to the bullfight on the radio, and Leonardo is not seen. In the palace the Presidente asks if he is lost. He says he is there because they took his Gitano to be killed. He asks him to save his bull. The Presidente says he can only ask, and he gives him a letter.

         Leonardo runs out and gets in the side car of a motorcycle that takes him with a siren through the traffic to the stadium. He goes down to the ring and shows his letter to an official, who tells him to come quick.

         Leonardo watches Gitano run around the ring. Then he charges the matador again and again. Gitano attacks a padded horse and then goes back to charging the red cape. The man tells Leonardo that Gitano is a noble bull. The matador Rivera sticks the bull several times. The announcer says Rivera is taking the sword. He uses the cape again. Rivera stands next to the bull and has his clothes torn. Leonardo prays. The announcer says Gitano hold his head too high. Gitano knocks Rivera down. Rivera takes off his jacket and uses the cape again. People begin to call for the bull to be spared. The announcer has not seen that since 1937. Rivera touches the horn. Rivera points the sword and is knocked down again. The crowd shouts to save the bull, and they wave handkerchiefs. The announcer says the bull has been spared. Leonardo runs into the ring and hugs the bull, saying, “Now we can live.” They walk together out of the ring and down the tunnel.

         This sentimental drama is said to be based on an actual incident. Almost always the bull is killed as people cheer; but in this story the love the boy has for the bull who saved his life works the cinematic miracle that preserves the life of the bull. Nonetheless the bull-fighting shows that the humans are glorying in their skill that is able to make the strong bull look like a fool until it is defeated and killed.

Copyright © 2010 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index