A close-up picture of a woman's face. Also a white horse with an apparently naked woman rider, covered by her long blonde hair.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Derek
Written byJohn Derek
Produced byBo Derek
CinematographyJohn Derek
Edited by
  • Sophie Bhaud
  • Hughes Damois
Music byPeter Bernstein
City Films
Distributed byCannon 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.


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. Finally, Ayre and Angel get 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 pair's objections that the scenes were strong enough. The film was to be distributed by MGM as part of an ongoing deal with Cannon, and Bo Derek screened the film for 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 from 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. Many theater chains that normally refused to screen X-rated films also refused to screen Bolero.[6]

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

Olivia d'Abo, who had a nude scene, was 14 during filming. "I matured physically at 13. When I did Bolero with Bo and John Derek, John thought I had implants. But I know I look young and innocent, which helps me get roles," she said.[7]


Box office

The film earned about $8.9 million in American ticket sales[3] against a $7 million production budget.[8]

Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 0% based on 23 reviews and 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".[9] Metacritic reports a score of 13/100 based on nine critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore 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 this grade,[11] and the only film to date to receive both a 0% Rotten Tomatoes score and an F from CinemaScore.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film ½ out of four stars, writing: "The real future of Bolero is in home cassette rentals, where your fast forward and instant replay controls will supply the editing job the movie so desperately needs".[12] David Robinson of The Times said that the story was "the authentic stuff of mild pornography", and wrote that the film's climax "No doubt ... distracted the writer-director from the dialogue, which is in every sense unspeakable."[13]

David Richards of The Washington Post wrote: "Bad as Bolero is, it is unfortunately not bad enough. Seekers of inadvertent high-camp hilarity will be as let down as those who are suckered in by the promise of Bo's golden flesh".[14] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the plot "sounds like that of a straight porn film, which is what Bolero would have become with anyone other than John Derek directing", and criticized the dialogue as "tending to sound like very bad pulp romance".[15] David Sterritt of The Christian Science Monitor wrote: "This tedious romance ... is a strong candidate for worst picture of the year".[16]


It was nominated for nine Golden Raspberry Awards and won six, including "Worst Picture", "Worst Actress," "Worst Director", and "Worst Screenplay".[17] In 1990, the film was nominated for the Razzie Award for "Worst Picture of the Decade", but lost to Mommie Dearest.[18] Also in 1984, the film was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture.[19]

Home media

In 1985, U.S.A. Home Video released Bolero in both unrated and R-rated versions for 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.

See also


  1. ^ "Bolero (18)". British Board of Film Classification. August 3, 1984. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  2. ^ Fordy, Tom (June 11, 2020). "The perfect sex symbol? Bo Derek and the legacy of 10". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Bolero at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "Bolero". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Hartley, Mark (2014). Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Motion Picture). RatPac-Dune Entertainment.
  6. ^ a b 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. ^ "Actress, 17, Believes Youth Suits Teen Roles". Chicago Tribune. August 28, 1986. Retrieved February 13, 2022.
  8. ^ "Bolero (1984) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  9. ^ "Bolero (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  10. ^ "Bolero Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  11. ^ "Making the Grade with Filmgoers". Orlando Sentinel. December 4, 1992. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved May 31, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1984). "Bolero". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 5, 2022 – via
  13. ^ Robinson, David (October 26, 1984). "Consistently Intriguing". The Times. p. 13. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  14. ^ Richards, David (September 3, 1984). "Boring Bo-Baring 'Bolero'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 1, 1984). "FILM: BO DEREK IN 'BOLERO'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  16. ^ Sterritt, David (September 20, 1984). "MOVIE GUIDE". Christian Science Monitor. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  17. ^ "1984 Razzie Awards Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on January 4, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "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.