Bolero (1984 film)

Last updated

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Derek
Produced by Bo Derek
Written byJohn Derek
Music by
CinematographyJohn Derek
Edited by
  • Sophie Bhaud
  • Hughes Damois
City Films
Distributed by Cannon Film Distributors
Release date
  • August 31, 1984 (1984-08-31)
Running time
104 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million [2]
Box office$8.9 million [3]

Bolero is a 1984 American romantic drama film written and directed by John Derek and starring Bo Derek. [4] The film centers on the protagonist's sexual awakening and her journey around the world to pursue an ideal first lover who will take her virginity.


A box office flop, the film was critically panned, earning nominations for nine Golden Raspberry Awards at the 5th Golden Raspberry Awards and "winning" six, including the Worst Picture. Many have considered this to be one of the worst films ever made and also one of the most controversial ones ever made. It won at the CVF Awards for "Worst Picture" (Golan-Globus), "Worst Actress" (Bo Derek), "Worst Actor" (George Kennedy), "Worst Supporting Actress" (Andrea Occhipinti), "Worst Director" (John Derek), "Worst Screenplay" (John Derek)", and "Worst Musical Score" (Peter and Elmer Bernstein).


Set in the 1920s, Ayre "Mac" MacGillvary is a virginal 23-year-old young American who graduates from an exclusive British college. An orphan heiress to a vast fortune, Ayre is determined to find the right man for her first sexual encounter wherever he might be in the world. Rich enough not to venture forth alone, she brings along her best friend Catalina and the family chauffeur Cotton.

Ayre first travels to Morocco where she meets an ideal lover, an Arab sheik who offers to deflower her. He takes her away in his private airplane to an oasis in the desert, but during foreplay while rubbing her nude body with honey, he falls asleep almost immediately. Giving up on the sheik, Ayre goes on to Spain, where she meets the toreador Angel, and sets out to seduce him. Into this group comes Paloma, a 14-year-old local Gypsy girl whom Ayre and Catalina take under their wing. A minor subplot involves Catalina meeting and pursuing Ayre's lawyer, Robert Stewart, a kilt-wearing Scotsman whom Catalina chooses to deflower her.

After several days of courtship and flirting, Angel makes love to Ayre one morning and he manages to stay awake. Unfortunately, after Ayre has succeeded in her quest to lose her virginity, Angel is gored while bullfighting the next day.

The injury leaves Angel unable to perform in the bedroom, and so Ayre makes it her mission in life to see to his recovery. Along the way, she takes up bullfighting herself as a way of getting her despondent lover motivated to stop moping. During this, the Arab sheik flies to Spain to abduct Ayre, but she manages to convince him that she has already lost her virginity and he lets her go.

Eventually, Ayre is successful in aiding Angel to full recovery which leads to a climactic lovemaking session between them. The film ends with Ayre and Angel getting married at a local church.


Production and release

Executive producer and Cannon Films co-head Menahem Golan urged the Dereks to make the sex scenes more explicit, despite the latter party's objections on the basis that the scenes were strong enough. The film was initially to be distributed by MGM as part of an ongoing deal with Cannon, and Bo Derek screened the film to MGM's then-CEO Frank Yablans hoping that he would intervene with Golan on the matter of the erotic content. Yablans disliked the film as much as all the other films Cannon was delivering to MGM. [5]

When the producers refused to cut the film to avoid an X rating by the MPAA, MGM dropped the film due to standards policies and Cannon released Bolero themselves. [6] The quality of Bolero and the other Cannon/MGM films led to Yablans using a breach of contract clause to terminate the distribution deal with Cannon in November 1984. [5] Bolero was ultimately released with no MPAA rating, with a disclaimer on ads that no children under 17 would be admitted to the film. Despite this, many theater chains that normally refused to screen X-rated films did the same for Bolero. [6]

The film is officially on DVD with an "R" rating with no cuts.


The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 0%, based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 1.43/10. The website's consensus reads, "Bolero combines a ludicrous storyline and wildly mismatched cast in its desperate attempts to titillate, but only succeeds in arousing boredom." [7] Metacritic reports a score of 13/100, based on 9 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". [8] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave Bolero a rare grade of "F" on an A+ to F scale, making it the first of only 22 films that are known to have received the grade. [9]

It was nominated for nine Golden Raspberry Awards and won six, including "Worst Picture", "Worst Actress," "Worst Director" and "Worst Screenplay". [10] In 1990, the film was nominated for the Razzie Award for "Worst Picture of the Decade," but lost to Mommie Dearest . [11] Also in 1984, the movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture. [12]

The film earned about $8.9 million in American ticket sales [3] against a $7 million production budget. [2]

Video releases

In 1985, U.S.A. Home Video released Bolero in both Unrated and R-Rated versions to the video rental marketplace. In 2005, MGM Home Entertainment released Bolero on DVD, after the rights to the majority of Cannon Film productions reverted to MGM.

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  1. "Bolero (18)". British Board of Film Classification . August 3, 1984. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Bolero (1984) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database . . Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  3. 1 2 Bolero at Box Office Mojo
  4. "Bolero". Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Hartley, Mark (2014). Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Motion Picture). RatPac-Dune Entertainment.
  6. 1 2 Haller, Scot (September 3, 1984). "With the Help of Her Husband, Bo Derek Beds Down in a New Role: Madame X." People (Vol. 22, No. 10).
  7. "Bolero (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  8. "Bolero Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  9. "MAKING THE GRADE WITH FILMGOERS". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  10. "1984 Razzie Awards Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on January 4, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  11. "10th Annual Razzie Awards: Special Worst of the Decade Awards for the 1980s". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  12. "1984 7th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards . Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
Preceded by
The Lonely Lady
Razzie Award for Worst Picture
5th Golden Raspberry Awards
Succeeded by
Rambo: First Blood Part II