The Heifer

Two years after the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the bored soldiers from both sides who are in the battlefield in Aragón exchange tobacco and cigarette paper, while they think of a way to demoralize the enemy. That apparent peacefulness is interrupted when the loudspeaker from the national side announces that there will be a “novillada” (with young bulls and novice bullfighters), followed by a banquet and dancing, as part of the local fiestas of a small nearby town. This announcement provokes discouragement on the Republican side, so the sergeant major Castro has an idea to annoy the Nationals and raise his soldiers’ spirits.

The plan consists of boycotting the “encierro”(running of the bulls), stealing the heifer and offering it to feed the regiment. To carry out the plan, he has help from three soldiers, an ex-sacristan, a bullfighter called Limeño, and Mariano, who was born in that town and knows the place and its inhabitants very well. He also has help from lieutenant Brosetas who, on learning about the plan, not only agrees with it but also wants to take part in it. However, things don’t work out as planned due to a series of unforeseeable events. The so-called bullfighter doesn’t really have the courage to approach the animal. So, the small group of invaders is suddenly forced to mix with the enemy and get involved in a series of crazy, risky situations in a town celebrating its local fiestas before they can cross the line of fire at dusk.

Production: In-Cine Compañía Industria Cinematográfica, S.A. (Madrid) – Jet Films, S.A. (Barcelona).

Directed by: Luis García Berlanga.

Story and Screenplay: Luis García Berlanga and Rafael Azcona.

Director of Photography: Carlos Suárez (eastmancolor).

Editor: José Luis Matesanz.

Art Director: Enrique Alarcón.

Costume Design: León Revuelta.

Music: Miguel Asins Arbó.

Executive Producer: Alfredo Matas.

Delegate Producer: Benjamín Benhamou.

Production Manager: Marisol Carnicero.

Production chief: Luis Briales and Daniel Vega.

Assistant Director: Miguel Gil. Second Assistant Directors: José Luis García Berlanga and Mischa Müller. Continuity: Yuyi Beringola. Military Adviser: Julio Ferrer Sequera. Second Cameraman: Eduardo Noé. Camera Assistant : Miguel Ángel Muñoz. Still photographer: Laureano López. Unit Production Manager: Juan de la Flor. Make-up Artist: Mariano García Rey. Hair Stylist: Teresa Matías. Make-up Assistants: Antonio Segovia and Carmen Díez. Set Dresser: Luis Argüello. Special Effects: Reyes Abades. Live Sound: James Willis. Studio Sound Engineer: Francisco Péramos. Assistant Editor: Claudio García. Assistant Decorator: Víctor Josué Alarcón. Sound Assistant: Manuel Ferreiro. Sound Recording: Antonio Illán. Casting: Alfredo Belinchón. Special Effects Assistants: Gonzalo Giménez and Isidro Ruano. Second Production Assistants: Jaime Cortezo, Federico del Cerro, Juan Carlos Caro and Berta Ballester. Second Assistant Editor: Lucio Cortés. Second Assistant Camera: Gonzalo Asensio. Props: Juan Jesús Escudero and Pedro González. Tailors: Mª Teresa García Trueba, Miguel García Tribaldos and Pablo Espinosa. Painters: Mario Pérez and Luis Ramírez. Carpenter: José Luis Sevillano. Weapons: Mario Barrero. Costume Design: Cornejo. Wigs and Hairpieces: Julián Ruiz. Props: Mateos, Luna and Mengibar. Upholstery: Emilio Ardura. Weapons: Roasa, S.L. Soundtrack: Tecnison, S.A. Sound Mixers: Sonoblok, S.A. Electrical Equipment and Material: Ricardo Arenas. Transport: Cinegasa. Power Generators: Luis Domínguez – Mole Richardson. Cranes: Valero. Catering: Rafael Hostelería Internacional. Credits: Padial. Cameras: Cámara-Rent, S.A. Laboratory: Fotofilm Madrid, S.A. (Madrid). Acknowledgements: Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza (Regional Council of Zaragoza) and Sos del Rey Católico Town Council.


Alfredo Landa (brigade Castro), Guillermo Montesinos (Mariano), Santiago Ramos (Limeño), José Sacristán (lieutenant Broseta), Carlos Velat (priest), Adolfo Marsillach (marquess), Amparo Soler Leal (Encarna), Eduardo Calvo (republican colonel), Violeta Cela (Guadalupe), Agustín González (national commander), María Luisa Ponte (Juana), Juanjo Puigcorbé (second lieutenant), Amelia de la Torre (Adela), Carlos Tristancho (Cartujano), Valeriano Andrés (parish priest), María Elena Flores (Vicenta), Antonio Gamero (national sergeant #1), Rafael Hernández (national sergeant #2), Valentin Paredes (soldier in his underwear), Fernando Sancho (mayor), Tomás Zori (Matías), Joan Armengol (national soldier #1), Pedro Beltrán (Roque), Luis Ciges (barber), Ana Gracia (town fool’s sister), Sergio Mendizábal (military priest), Fernando Sala (town fool), Francisco Valdivia (Piporra), Gabriel Latorre.


Bronce Awards (Guía del Ocio) for best film and best director.

Filming Location

Sos del Rey Católico (Zaragoza).

More information

Release Date: 8 March 1985.

Designated as Special Quality.

In memory of José Manuel M. Herrero.

Year of production


Year of release in Spain