Rudolph Valentino profile by James Steffen on TCM: “The breakthrough film for Valentino was Rex Ingram’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). The World War I melodrama, based on the bestselling novel by Vicente Blasco-Ibanez, was a pet project of June Mathis, a screenwriter at Metro Pictures. Mathis lobbied to give Valentino the key part of Julio Desnoyers, the young heir to an Argentinean cattle baron who seduces a married woman but later proves his valor in battle. The famous tango scene, in which Valentino got to show off his formidable skills as a dancer, helped catapult him into stardom, but he also attracted critical attention for his skills as an actor. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse became one of the greatest financial and artistic successes of the silent era, earning the director Rex Ingram comparisons to D.W. Griffith. The challenge of Valentino’s subsequent career was not so much to gain public recognition as to find projects which helped him fulfill the promise shown in this film. June Mathis, who played an instrumental role in Valentino’s rise to stardom, scripted several of Valentino’s subsequent projects: The Conquering Power (1921), Camille (1921), Blood and Sand (1922) and The Young Rajah. Today she is also notorious as the brain behind the editing of [Erich von] Stroheim’s Greed (1924) down to the 10-reel version which survives to this day.”
On Sunday, May 21, TCM will be showing the following Valentino films (EDT):
Note: Mae Murray – not Mae Marsh as per the TCM schedule – is the star of Delicious Little Devil.
Note Part II: I’m quite sure that the Young Rajah showing includes only a couple of reels. As far as I know, most of that film remains lost.
Note Part III: If you are going to be recording any of those films, make sure to allot extra time at the end of each one of them. TCM is notoriously off the mark when it comes to scheduling the running time of silent films.
8:00 PM Beyond the Rocks (1922)
On her honeymoon with an aging millionaire, a young woman falls for a handsome younger man. Cast: Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Alec B. Francis. Director: Sam Wood. Color. 0 mins,
9:45 PM Moran of the Lady Letty (1922)
A playboy fights to save a young woman from the smugglers who have kidnapped them. Cast: Dorothy Dalton, Rudolph Valentino, Charles Brinley. Director: George Melford. Color. 1 mins,
11:00 PM The Young Rajah (1922)
An All-American boy learns that he is really an Indian ruler and must desert his sweetheart to reclaim his throne. Cast: Rudolph Valentino, Wanda Hawley, Charles Ogle. Director: Phil Rosen. Color. 0 mins,
12:00 AM Delicious Little Devil (1919)
In this silent film, a roadhouse dancer has to prove to a rich businessman that she really loves his son. Cast: Mae Murray, Rudolph Valentino, Harry L. Rattenberry. Director: Robert Z. Leonard. Color. 0 mins,
1:15 AM Stolen Moments (1920)
Love turns a young innocent into a blackmail victim and murder suspect. Cast: Marguerite Namara, Rudolph Valentino, Albert L. Barrett. Director: James Vincent. Color. 0 mins,
2:00 AM The Conquering Power (1921)
In this silent film, a young man falls for his wicked uncle’s stepdaughter. Cast: Alice Terry, Rudolph Valentino, Eric Mayne. Director: Rex Ingram. Black and white. 89 min, TV-G
3:30 AM The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1921)
In this silent film, a young Argentine fights for France, his father’s country,in World War I. Cast: Rudolph Valentino, Alice Terry, Nigel De Brulier. Director: Rex Ingram. Black and white. 133 min, TV-G
The recently found and restored Beyond the Rocks is quite poor, but it’s a must-see because of its historical importance as the only pairing of screen legends Valentino and Gloria Swanson. The forgotten Moran of the Lady Letty, however, is quite enjoyable. A sea-faring adventure tale, it shows both Valentino and then major star Dorothy Dalton to good advantage.
The highly effective The Conquering Power boasts the best performance of Alice Terry’s career, while The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse remains to this day an impressive example of epic filmmaking. Rex Ingram deserves to be better remembered as one of the top directorial talents of the silent era.