November 28 - Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do It
Note from TheMirl.com: This is the newest installment of a regular series by Joel Blumberg reviewing
sports movies from all eras.
Budd Boetticher was known as a Hollywood director. A good one, in the spirit of
Samuel Fuller, a man who lived his life to the fullest.
Bruce Ricker has produced and directed this one of a kind biography of
Boetticher, who reached his mainstream zenith with a series of 1950s
westerns starring Randolph Scott.
But the story of Budd Boetticher really begins in the mid 1930s when he
suffered a knee injury while playing football at Ohio State (he was a boxer there
as well). For his summer vacation, he drove to Mexico and became infatuated
With the help of one of the Mexico’s great Matadors, Boetticher became successful in the bull ring,
parlaying his proclivity and a friendship with Hal Roach Jr. to become a technical advisor to Director
Rouben Mamoulian in his great “Blood and Sand”.
Studying Mamoulian and Film Editor Barbara MacLean, Boetticher felt he could successful as a
Moving to Columbia Pictures, he honed his craft directing “B” Features which included an entry in the
Boston Blackie Series.
Having struck up a friendship with the great John Wayne, Boetticher invited him south of the border to
take in some Bullfighting and this gambit led Wayne to produce Boetticher’s very personal ”Bullfighter
and the Lady” in 1951. The story of a skeet shooter (played by Robert Stack, in real life an NCAA
Champion skeet shooter), who with the help a bull ring star (brilliantly portrayed by Gilbert Roland)
learns the ways of a bullfighter but at a price.
Even though Wayne and John Ford cut out 40 some minutes from the film (it has been restored by
UCLA), Boetticher received an Oscar nomination for his story.
Wayne was again instrumental in uniting him with Randolph Scott in the pairings first western “Seven
Men From Now” (Wayne’s Batjac Productions made the film) and the duo combined with Harry Joe
Brown to make five more films, all critically hailed.
Boetticher also directed television episodes of “Maverick”, “77 Sunset Strip”, and “The Rifleman”. In
fact, his body of work in this period was as good as any contemporary director of the era.
Unfortunately his waterloo came courtesy of the bull ring, with his ill fated biography of Mexico’s great
Matador Carlos Arruza, who was killed in a car crash after the project was started.
He directed one more project after that, and would die in 2001 at the age of 85
Ricker has done an outstanding job in accumulation archival interviews with Boetticher (you really
think he is alive). He also incorporates archival footage from Stack and John Ford.
For live interviews, Ricker has gathered the cream of the contemporary crop, including, Quentin
Tarentiino, Taylor Hackford, Peter Bogdonovich, and Clint Eastwood (the film’s Executive Producer).
Ed Harris narrates the feature.
The insertion of Boetticher’s film footage is perfect with the accent on both the aforementioned
“Bullfighter and the Lady” and the Scott series.
While all of the previous entries written for this column focus on features from Hollywood’s golden
past, this one will have the legion of Boetticher fans waiting in deep anticipation. This feature will be
Turner Classic Movies, Dec 21 at 8:00PM to be followed by “Seven Men From Now” the same day at
It will be more than worth the wait.