Fun Size Review: The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

I’m Baaaacccckkkk!!!! Get ready to be flooded with posts over the coming days as I try to catch up with the last two weeks, but first of all have a butchers of this post from Movies Silently of the Rex Ingram production: The Prisoner of Zenda!!! Follow Link below and Enjoy:

The Prisoner of Zenda

Fun Size Review: The Prisoner of Zenda (1922).

 

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Midweek Matinee

SilentFilmLost

Here’s a strange fact about cinema. More than half the films every made no longer exist.

 Buster Keaton 1

Studios churned out product in the early days, with little thought of preservation. Most films had no future before television. Every few years a previous hit would go on general re-release, but these were always monster hits like Gone With The Wind. Other films just took up room.

English: Buster Keaton wearing his trademark p...

English: Buster Keaton wearing his trademark porkpie hat in the 1922 film The Blacksmith Available at http://us.imdb.com/gallery/mptv/1301/Mptv/1301/20676_0002.jpg?path=gallery&path_key=0012945 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The highly combustible celluloid was a fire hazard too, so the prudent producer would strip the film for re-usable minerals and destroy the waste. The fact that some of that waste contained the life work of a Buster Keaton or a Rex Ingram didn’t really register. How many people archive their newspapers, or their Facebook page?

Every so often, happily, something is plucked from the maw of time. The latest rediscovery is five new minutes of Keaton’s 1922 comedy The Blacksmith. You can read about the rediscovery, and catch a glimpse of the footage, in this excellent article from the (other) Guardian: Here

Posted by Kevin McGee

Friday Facts

Rudoph Valentino as Amos Judd

Rudoph Valentino as Amos Judd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good day and welcome to the second part of our 1951 article titled The Perfect Lover, which was written by Harold Queen, published in the Coronet Magazine and is about the extremely dark featured, very handsome, Rudolph Valentino. Last week we were looking at his early days in Hollywood, so what happened next:

 

Cover of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocal...

Cover of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

“For a time, Valentino (whose name by now had changed), went unrecognized. He took bit parts at $5 a day and lived sparingly. Gradually, he got better parts and salaries up to $150 a week. In 1920, Rex Ingram, casting for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, selected Valentino as Julio, the story’s young Argentine hero. In the film, Valentino danced the tango, and when The Four Horsemen opened in New York, word filtered back that he was sensational. Valentino promptly asked for a $50-a-week and was curtly refused.”

 

English: Rudolph Valentino in "The Sheik&...

English: Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik” (www.silentgents.com) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A woman, E. M. Hull, had written a book, The Sheik, describing love and lesser matters on the Sahara Desert. When Valentino appeared in the film version, sheik became a national byword. Ten thousand letters a week jammed the star’s mailbox. His salary leaped to $1,000 a week.”

 

English: Wanda Hawley & Rudolph Valentino in T...

English: Wanda Hawley & Rudolph Valentino in The Young Rajah – cropped screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Valentino’s succeeding films, and particularly The Young Rajah, involved him in a battle with his employers, whom he accused of putting him in inferior productions. The result was a court injunction banning him from stage or screen until he fulfilled his contract. He and Rambova then undertook the dance tour, which was sponsored by the makers of a beauty clay. The salary, $7,000 a week, enabled him to maintain his well-publicized extravagances, which sometimes landed him in debt by as much as $100,000.”

 

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova (Photo credit: The Loudest Voice)

“When he returned to the screen after a two-year absence, Valentino found that, if anything, his popularity had spurted. Millions came to see him in Monsieur Beaucaire, The Sainted Devil, The Cobra, and as a Cossack in The Eagle. He was separated from Rambova, and the public took avid delight in his new emotional attachments – Vilma Banky, and later the tempestuous Pola Negri.”

 

Valentino with the Arabian Stallion Jadaan. Pu...

Valentino with the Arabian Stallion Jadaan. Publicity photo for Son of the Sheik, 1926 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“For the New York opening of Son of the Sheik, thousands waited in a withering heat wave. Some 4,000 more gathered at the stage door to mob their idol, who was making a personal appearance.”

Rudolph Valentino, one of the first "teen...

Rudolph Valentino, one of the first “teen idols” of the 20th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And there we leave it for this week, but not to worry, I’ll be back next week for the concluding part of this hugely interesting article about one of the first ever cinematic heart-throbs. So for now, Slán Leat!

 

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

 

Friday Facts

Rudolph Valentino 1

Hello all and welcome to Friday Facts! This week I’m after finding an article about Rudolph Valentino from 1951, which was written by Harold Queen for a publication called Coronet. This article was titled The Perfect Lover and I will reproduce it here over the coming weeks. What is interesting with this article is how much it reminds us that before the boyband mania, and before the Beatles and Elvis mania, before them all – there was Rudolph:

Rudolph Valentino 2Some of the crowd at Rudolph Valentino’s Funeral

“In the little theaters that feature old-time films, Rodolpho Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla still plays to packed houses. Thousands of aging matrons remember him as the beau ideal of the 1920s – the decade of the Charleston and Al Capone. Some 35 women named their children after him, and three others committed suicide on his account. Indeed, few figures of modern times (early 1950s) have inspired the mass hysteria that swirled about the life, loves, and final curtain call, at 31, of Rudolph Valentino, ‘The Perfect Lover’.”

Rudolph Valentino 3Rudolph Valentino in Blood and Sands

“The supple, olive-skinned son of an Italian veterinarian was both the expression of his era and in a sense its part-creator. He gave the language a new word – “sheik” – to describe the great brotherhood of street-corner musketeers who pomaded their hair and grew long sideburns in imitation of their hero.”

Rudolph Valentino 4Rudolph Valentino: The Sheik

“When he first flashed across the screen in flowing white burnoose, women everywhere rushed to purchase Sheik hats and frocks, Sheik cosmetics and handbags. He gave the tango its greatest lease on life in America, and few survivors of that dim age fail to remember the hand-wound phonographs grinding out The Sheik of Araby.”

Rudolph Valentino 5Valentino the Man

“The Valentino cult frequently took more exuberant turns. The platinum slave bracelet he wore on his wrist, his reported communications with the other world, and his extravagances fed a steady stream of material into the newspapers and magazines of the day. In his public appearances, admirers often stripped him of hat, tie, pocket handkerchief, even his cuff links.”

Natacha with RudolphNatacha with Rudolph

“When his second wife, Natacha Rambova, left New York during an enforced separation until his divorce became final, reporters on the train intercepted his telegrams and rushed them into headlines before she had seen them. When the couple later appeared together in a nationwide dance tour, thousands gathered at sidings to catch a glimpse of them in their special railway car.”

Rudolph Valentino 6Rudolph Valentino Performing

The Sheik‘s acting rated high by standards of the silent screen, and it is likely that he would have done equally well in talking pictures. His pantherish grace, exotic features, and sturdy physique contributed to the actual tremors many women experienced when seeing him on the screen. The young Italian had the added faculty of completely absorbing the personality of his screen characters. In preparing for Blood and Sand, he studied the art of bullfighting with a retired toreador, spoke nothing but Spanish, grew sideburns, and learned to walk and swagger like a true hero of the ring.”

Rudolph Valentino 8Do what I tell you woman, for I am The Sheik!

“The prime reason for his extraordinary appeal, however, lay in the fact that, to millions of moviegoers, the name Valentino spelled romance. In the workaday world of Harding and Coolidge, he was the high lama of escape. For the small price of a ticket, he secured for his devotees temporary admission to a dream world of daring gallantry and erotic suggestiveness. This talent lifted the dark-eyed tango partner from the dance hall to a Hollywood manor, a stable of exotic foreign cars, and the title of ‘The Screen’s Greatest Lover’.”

Rudolph Valentino 9Look into my eyes; now look very deeply!

“The man to whom these honours came was born in southern Italy in 1895. In 1913, his family packed him off to the New World, where, according to legend, he landed a job as a bus boy and dancing partner, with meals thrown in. This was the age of Irene and Vernon Castle, and the dance craze was sweeping America. So Guglielmi turned professional, making the vaudeville circuits of the period.”

Rudolph Valentino 10Well, I can’t sing and I can’t dance …, but I look okay, I suppose!

“In 1915, when Italy entered the war, Rodolpho applied for the Italian Air Force but was turned down because of poor eyesight. A try at the British Royal Flying Corps brought similar results. Finally he joined a musical company making ts way to California, but when he landed in San Francisco, both job and income ended. It was at this point that a friendly screen actor, Norman Kerry, thought the young Italian had film possibilities and staked him to an apartment near Hollywood.”

Rex Directing RudolphRex Ingram directing Rudolph Valentino

Well. that’s the first section of the article The Perfect Lover by Harold Queen from 1951. I hope you’re enjoying learning about the history of this legendary silent-film star, who took the silent era by storm with his dark, exotic looks and his handsome, mysterious features. Women loved and wanted him, men envied and idolized him, and Rex Ingram made him; find out how next week!

Cover of "The Sheik / The Son of the Shei...

Cover via Amazon

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Constance Talmadge, silent film actress with R...

Constance Talmadge, silent film actress with Rudolf Valentino (Photo credit: scismgenie)

Valentino - The Sheik

Valentino – The Sheik (Photo credit: DonnaGrayson)

Cover of "Blood and Sand: Silent Classic&...

Cover of Blood and Sand: Silent Classic

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova

Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova (Photo credit: The Loudest Voice)

promotional image of screen writer June Mathis...

promotional image of screen writer June Mathis on the set of Blood and Sand with star Rudolph Valentino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Quote on Thursday

ver_hardy_&_Mrs_HardyOliver Hardy about to be chastised by the Mrs in Blockheads

Oliver Hardy in Blockheads (1938):

Oliver Hardy: But, Dear, I haven’t seen Stan in 20 years.
Mrs. Hardy: I couldn’t see him in a hundred years.

dore_schary_portrait_lgDore Schary

MGM Production Chief  Dore Schary when asked who he thought were the great Hollywood Pioneering Directors :

D. W. Griffith, Rex Ingram, Cecil B. DeMille, and Erich von Stroheim – in that order.”

Playwright Robert SherwoodRobert Sherwood working through all the hardships of having a painter over his shoulder

Playwright Robert Sherwood on Rex Ingram and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

… the grandiose posturing of D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille appear pale and artificial in the light of this new production.

stan_laurel___sons_of_the_desertStan Laurel in Sons of the Desert

Stan Laurel:

You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.

 

D. W. GriffithD. W. Griffith

D. W. Griffith:

I am fond of depicting the lives of young folks for one thing, and if you don’t have parts for girls or young men, you must absolutely have young people to fill them – that is generally acknowledged now.”

Lillian Gish

 

Lillian Gish with her ‘Come and get me eyes!’

Lillian Gish:

Young man, if God had wanted you to see me that way, he would have put your eyes in your bellybutton.”

 

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Silent Movie Picture Book: The Sheik (part 3)

And finally the third part of The Sheik, as is put together by ‘Movies, Silently’. Coming soon to a Nenagh Silent Film Festival near you, but for now click on the link and connect up to Movies, Silently Blog for their collection of stills from the production:

Silent Movie Picture Book: The Sheik (part 3).

Midweek Matinee

lantern logoClick Image to vew lantern.mediahlist website

An extraordinary new resource for early film buffs has just gone live. Lantern.mediahist.org is an online collection of film books and magazines from the earliest days of film up to 1963. it is fully searchable, and all the materials may be downloaded and reused.

Rex Ingram's Four Horsemen of the Apocalyse

A sample search for “Rex Ingram” returned 1,707 entries. Some of these will refer to the actor of the same name, of course, but within minutes I was reading an on-set report from our director’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ingram had just been clattered with an umbrella, wielded by a sweary Algerian dwarf.

Will retribution follow? If you want me, I’ll be in 1924.

 

Posted by Kevin McGee