The Blackmailers (1963) Poster

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Passable melodrama with intrigue , dealing with a killing and about the bullfighting world
ma-cortes17 December 2018
Drama , tragedy , blackmails , murder , love stories and Toreo in this fictious version about life of a famous bullfighter . Having been a poor boy who grew up in the hospice Juan Medina/Manuel Benítez 'El Cordobés' awaits his opportunity , as his dream is to become himself a great bullfighter . A young man Juan Medina , nicknamed "El Cordobés" , wants to be a known bullfighter, but becoming involved in the killing of a foreign woman and he is put in prison . In jail is helped by a good priest , Don Andrés (Luis Dávila) . Out of prison , things go wrong , he complies , as he is blackmailed by some crooks (Alberto De Mendoza, Venancio Muro) and finally his life changes , at worst . At last , Medina triumphs , as he gets to be famous , but he is apparently unrequited . Meantime , he falls in love for a beautiful girl (Elena Duque) . When he is blackmailed , then tragedies and distresses emerge . At the end , he confronts at a noisy plaza where takes place a suspenseful denouement .

This is a bullfighting drama about a notorious Torero , narrating his humble origin as well as his successful raise , in which he will learn to overcome difficulties and penury . It revolves around the bullfighting world and displaying a colorful , evocative cinematography and being professionally directed by Rafael Gil who made a great number of Spanish classics . The movie gives a nice description about the culture of Spain surrounding the age old traditions of the Matador , in which Toreros are really submitted to nerves during slaughter. As the ancient Toreo art-form is described with unflinching and fetching realism , it is the story of bullfighters against brave beasts . The motion picture was competently made by Rafael Gil carrying out an acceptable filming , halfway between a thriller and a bullfighting issue , as he pulls off in this production a brief description on the brave bullfighters , and there are lots of shots about bullfighting , especially in its final part , showing a spectacular Corrida , being technical consultants the professional Toreros . Lousy acting by Manuel Benitez El Cordobes as a simple but honest boy who finds patronage to become a Torero -bullfighter- thanks to an ¨Apoderado¨ , well played by the great veteran Manolo Morán . Although Benitez's debut film was ¨Aprendiendo a morir¨(1962), it dealt with own life , and here concerns about a fictional story about killing and blackmail . Support cast is frankly excellent , plenty of Spanish secondary star-studded , such as : Alberto De Mendoza , Manuel Alexandre , Venancio Muro , José María Seoane , Luis Induni , Antonio Casas , José María Caffarel , Juán Cortés , Hugo Pimentel , Yelena Samarina and special mention for Manolo Morán in one of his always sympathetic roles .

The film gives an appropriate portrayal about ¨Bullfighting¨ art , as the bull is released into the ring , where he is tested for ferocity by the matador and Banderilleros with the magenta and gold Capote ("Cape"). This is the first stage , the Tercio de Varas ("the lancing third"). The matador confronts the bull with the Capote , performing a series of passes and observing the behavior and quirks of the bull . Next , a ¨picador¨ enters the arena on horseback armed with a Vara (lance) . In the next stage, the Tercio De Banderillas ("the third of Banderillas") , each of the three Banderilleros attempts to plant two Banderillas, sharp barbed sticks, into the bull's shoulders . In the final stage, the "the third of death" , the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape, or Muleta, and a sword .

Atmospheric photography in Eastmancolor by the Spanish classic cameraman José F. Aguayo , shot on location from Alcala De Henares , Aranjuez , Madrid Fuengirola, Málaga, Andalucía, Marbella, Torremolinos, Málaga ,Andalucía, Spain and Munich, Bavaria, Germany . Evocative and popular musical score by Gregorio García Segura .The motion picture lavishly produced by Marciano De La Fuente and the powerful producer Cesareo Gonzalez , Suevia Films' owner , that along with Cia Cifesa were the most known production companies during Francoist period , that often financed these false but breathtaking historical spectacles , being well directed by Rafael Gil , though it has some flaws and failures . This movie was professionally realized by Rafael Gil , shooting a hastily assembled decent picture , but uneven and ups and downs . Director Gil took advantage of the marvelous exteriors from Andalucia and the breathtaking ¨Corridas¨. Being filmed in usual style of the sixties and in stylistic scholarship , without leaving a trace the dramatic issues , in terms of moving and narrative excitement . He was one of the best filmmakers from Spanish cinema , fiming a large numeber of vintage movies , such as : ¨Don Quijote De La Mancha¨ , ¨El Clavo¨ , ¨La Fe¨ , ¨La Señora De Fatima¨, ¨Aventuras De Juán Lucas¨, ¨La Reina Santa¨ , ¨La Guerra De Dios¨ , ¨El Beso De Judas¨ , and several others . And he made some films about bullfighting as ¨Currito de la Cruz¨, ¨El Litri y su sombra¨ , ¨El relicario¨, ¨Sangre en el ruedo¨ , starred by known toreros such as : Angel Teruel , El Litri , Antonio Bienvenida , El Pireo , and Manuel Benitez El Cordobes. Rating : Acceptable and passable 5.5/10 . The motion picture will appeal to bullfighting aficionados .
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Any real aspect in this film is pure coincidence...
dalton29 September 2001
After telling his own life in his first film, Aprendiendo a morir (1962), El Cordobés made his first real performance. In Chantaje a un torero (1963) he is no longer Manuel Benítez, but Juan Medina, a fiction character. As he himself states, he's not a good actor and doesn't like to act, and that's something evident in this film. Directed by a good director, Rafael Gil, and with several good actors in the cast, Chantaje a un torero is a bad film. It's a bad film because it was made to be shown in a dictatorship's time. Reality is passed through a filter and the result is nothing but annoying. To be more explicit, I'll explain myself: Rich people are 'the good people', the prison priest is almost a saint, beloved and respected by everybody, the prison director looks like a wonderful person, the dialogue is full of 'remarkable' quotes ("What happens if you happen to be guilty? Then I'll pay for my fault like a man")... I think you get the point.

This film was mainly made to show El Cordobés's abilities at bullfighting. The fact is that he only appears doing his thing for a few minutes. So I can't even recommend this film to the bullfighter's fans.

3 or 4 out of 10.
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