TheStreet.com reports that Rudolph Valentino's mansion, Falcon Lair, located in the hills above Benedict Canyon overlooking Beverly Hills, is up for sale – for those who can shell out US$7.95 million. Valentino, the star of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Sheik, bought the house for $175,000 (approx. $2 million adjusting for inflation) in 1925. Billionairess Doris Duke owned the house for nearly five decades, though the property was eventually bought from the Duke estate.
Nicholas Yulico's article explains that “The current owner says he has spent millions transforming the house since purchasing it in 1998. Renovations are still under way. From the outside, the house will look roughly the same as when Valentino had it built in the 1920s, highlighted by its Mediterranean stucco and red tile roof. But the interior is undergoing significant updating.”
Falcon Lair was to be Valentino's “retreat from public life, his castle and the palace to share with his lady love, Natacha Rambova,” explains Donna Hill on her Valentino website. “Sadly, as fate would have it, this retreat in Bel Air would not be the home for Rudy and Natacha he envisioned. She divorced him shortly after he bought the property.”
Rudolph Valentino (above, with Gloria Swanson in Beyond the Rocks), one of the biggest silent film stars, died in 1926 at the age of 31.
Update: Falcon Lair was bulldozed in 2006. One more piece of Los Angeles history that has literally gone to dust. According to Donna, “only the outer gates/fence structure and garage area remain extant and recognizable from Valentino's time.”
Berlin & Beyond
In the San Francisco Chronicle, G. Allen Johnson reports that the 11th Berlin & Beyond festival opens Thursday at the Castro with a screening of Marc Rothemunds Nazi-era drama Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage / Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, which boasts the best performance by an actress that I saw last year. Julia Jentsch does a superb star turn as the doomed idealist Sophie Scholl, a member of the German-based anti-Nazi resistance movement.
The festival will also screen the 1929 avant-garde silent classic Menschen am Sonntag / People on Sunday. According to the IMDb, the film was co-directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Nachts wenn der Teufel kam / The Devil Strikes at Night), Curt Siodmak (The Beast with Five Fingers), Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons), and Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour), from a screenplay co-written by Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd., The Apartment). Via SFGate.com.
Note: The German Film Institute page on Menschen am Sonntag says the film was written and directed by Robert Siodmak, Ulmer, and Wilder, and co-written by Zinnemann. It makes no mention of Curt Siodmak.