Bieber-fever is a trifling allergy attack compared to the fan fueled adoration of cinema’s “Latin Lover,” Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla – or Rudolph Valentino, if you’re nasty. Valentino was the first movie star and the attention devoted to his every move, every smoky look, every career decision was astounding, and (one might dare) crushing. Valentino, like all obedient sex symbols, died at the tender age of 31, remaining his young, beautiful, sexy self for eternity. And he’s coming to Toronto on March 31 as part of the Toronto Silent Film Festival lineup! I hope there’s riot police on call!
Now Mr. Valentino starred in some truly terrible matinee movies. His job was to make the pulse of ladies (and some gentlemen) race and he did so admirably well. No one really cared very much what the movie was or what part he played. But Fred Niblo‘s Blood and Sand is one of the better Valentino offerings. Here our hero plays Juan Gallardo, a poor boy with a talent for bullfighting. He tosses over his sweet childhood sweetheart Carmen (Lila Lee) for vampish Dona Sol (Nita Naldi). Carmen understands and even rushes to nurse Juan back to health after a terrible goring. Does the cad care? No his obsession for Dona Sol leads to his ultimate downfall.
Now, is there anything profound here? Nope. But Blood and Sand sure is exciting, and man, Valentino sure is pretty. If the “Latin Lover” is this titillating 90 years after the fact, it’s easy to see why desolate fans committed suicide when he died and why his 1926 New York funeral erupted into riots. If you want to find out what the fuss is about, get over to Toronto Silent Film Festival and buy your tickets for Blood and Sand.
Blood and Sand
Musical Interpretation: Andrei Streliaev
Saturday March 31, 2012
4pm (doors open at 3:30)
The Revue 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Toronto
Tickets $12.00/$10.00 seniors and members
Plus: “Animation from the Lawless Days” Koko and the Cartoon Factory 1925 Fleischer Studios
The Toronto Silent Film Festival Program
March 29 – Our Dancing Daughters
March 30 – Tabu: A Tale of the South Seas
April 1: 1000 LAFFS: Playmates
April 2: The Italian Straw Hat
April 3: Variety