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With: Rudolph Valentino, William Boyd, Charles Brinley, Dorothy Dalton, Emil Jorgenson, Fanny Midgley, Carmel Myers, Marguerite Namara, Charles Ogle, Zasu Pitts
Written by: Richard Hall, Monte M. Katterjohn, Hope Loring, June Mathis, Paul Powell, H. Thompson Rich
Directed by: George Melford, Paul Powell, Phil Rosen, James Vincent
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 226
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

Valentino: Rediscovering an Icon of Silent Film (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dream Lover

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As a film buff, you hear tales of the romantic and sexual prowess of Rudolph Valentino's screen image: how he sent hoards of women into fits of screaming and salivating. But watching his films today, we see something of an over-actor, quivering and twitching and bugging out his eyes. This new double-disc DVD set from Flicker Alley reconciles these two conflicting sides. The Italian-born Valentino had a ludicrously short career. He reportedly appeared in 37 films, first as extra and a bit player, then often as an oily heavy. In 1921 came his big breakthrough, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which sent him straight into the limelight and his current status as all-time great heartthrob. Sadly, he only made a handful of films after that before succumbing to a perforated ulcer and dying at the age of 31. Many of these films are considered lost, but Flicker Alley's new DVD restores -- or "reconstructs" -- four films from various stages in his career. The major one is The Young Rajah (1922), which is clearly a variation on Valentino's most famous role, The Sheik (1921). Flicker Alley has taken the surviving footage and cobbled it together with film stills and intertitles to more or less re-create the story. Though it's impossible to grade as a completed film, it definitely gives you a hint of what it might have been like. Based on a Frank Norris novel, Moran of the Lady Letty (1922) re-teamed Valentino with his Sheik director George Melford and tried to re-cast him as a manlier figure. The other two films, Stolen Moments (1920) and A Society Sensation (1918) come from Valentino's years before his star turn, although they are more complete. (The latter features Valentino as the romantic lead, though somewhat less "manly" than in his later films.) Admittedly, these four films are not absolutely essential Valentino items, at least not compared to Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925) or The Son of the Sheik (1926), but they're certainly effective and enjoyable.

DVD Details: Aside from the four films that make up the heart of the box, Flicker Alley's DVD set comes with an enormous wealth of extras, including short films, photos and tons of information about Valentino, the places he went, the people he knew and the things he did. The DVD is laid out like a tourist map and, to be fair, it's easy to get lost. Some of the navigation doesn't make immediate sense. But the overall package nicely closes the gap between Valentino's actual screen image and the legend.

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