Postscript on “The Young Rajah”

Speaking of elevation of thought, as Valentino I started a crusade for better scripts, deciding, at the time, that those being routinely offered me were of inferior quality. Now as I review, each had their good points too. “The Young Rajah,” for example, a picture that I once considered to be among my least successful, examined intuition and the concept of thought-power, especially as it pertains to creating personal reality. Amos Judd, my character, could see the future for others but, alas, not for himself. Nevertheless, he was always busy creating it anyway. And so it is for all of us. Where would we be without our dreams?” ~ R. Valentino Guglielmi


Valentino Filmography ~ “The Young Rajah”

“Perhaps my most ambitious film in terms of blatant proselytizing ~ in a good way, of course! “The Young Rajah” was designed, by June Mathis, to open many a door. The plot was hoary, not too slick, yet the message was right on the mark in the sense that the screenplay normalized what some of you still see as exotic, or too far-fetched. Amos was a dreamer, yes ~ a seer, a gifted man in terms of being able to manifest with ease. All these are truths and really the norm, rather than exception. So I was modeling spiritual practice here though the story a bit goofy, at least from the viewpoint of critics and some movie-goers. But June had the last word, creative license, and prevail she did!

The script itself was a bit of a potboiler, some aspects of it inane and I did not like the film at that time, thinking it lacking, but now I find it sublime, uniting what’s diverse, elements from everywhere, cultures and societies. Wanda (co-star, Wanda Hawley) was not very accessible, rather perfunctory in her affectation but we were adequate on screen, believable as a couple. And, there were individual moments that sparkled ~ like all the gems in ‘La Cave d’Ali Baba.’  My tear, the cheers, a young man’s fancies. An interesting picturization this film, and in certain scenes really effective, with memorable images searing the imagination. June’s quote in one of the intertitles is notable too so I leave you with that thought. Also, abbracci a tutti!” (Hugs to everyone!) ~ Rudolph Valentino

“Men should be judged not by the tint of their skin

The gods they serve, the vintage that they drink

Nor by the way they fight, or love, or sin

But rather by the quality of thought they think.”

(Intertitle from The Young Rajah, Paramount, 1922.)

“The Hooded Falcon”

Ruminations on “The Hooded Falcon,” the film that Rudy and Natacha really wanted to make but never did:

One of the biggest projects ever, in terms of my former life-time, and it did not come to fruition! What was that all about? This film was a specter, an opium-like dream that Natacha and I bought into. We wanted to elevate public taste, dignify and exemplify, in ways that most Hollywood product of the time did not. “The Hooded Falcon” was to be an exercise in ‘hardiesse’ (daring/boldness/pluck) which is what would have been required to fully make that leap of faith, the one that was necessary for everyone who was to be involved to get on board, to back it 100%. We, meaning primarily Natacha and I, did make a serious effort but got lost in the details instead of starting with a crisp concept, which we thought would evolve by osmosis if we steeped ourselves in drawings, looks and costumes. Natacha liked to work that way and was successful when there was enough meat on the bones, ample flesh upon which she could drape costumes and use to populate sets.

I wanted this role, this picture, to be my masterpiece, a sterling example of all my creative input, as did she, and because we were quite synchronistic at the time, in a sort of harmonic convergence about this property and the reason for its existence and pursuit, we likely would have succeeded in our goals. Conceptually and with the story line, however, there still were gaps when the plug was pulled on the financial side. Could they have been assuaged, addressed, even become attributes? Most assuredly but we did not have the luxury of a bottomless pit when it came to either money or time. Still, the ‘shade’ was raised, the ghost, the vision walked and one day someone with Hollywood blood in their veins may want to dust off the idea and make the film we always wanted to – unfinished business, brought to the attention of a new century! Of course, the star should resemble me, at least a little. Why not? That would be fun! My character was to be a Saracen nobleman, by the way. Ecumenical, there was that element too. This film was intended to inspire and unite, to cause audiences, after the pageantry, intrigue and utter delight, to think a bit more, become themselves ‘of the Light.’ Ecco fatto.” (There you have it.) ~ Rudolph Valentino


Valentino Filmography: “All Night” & “A Society Sensation”

The first time in his career as an actor that Valentino was a featured player. Though not yet fully aware of the power he was able to project in subsequent films, Rudy displays his ease, his ‘désinvolture,’ in every frame of these outings, both of which were released long before he was catapulted to fame in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” (Again, all of Valentino’s comments and observations on this blog have been channeled by Wayne Hatford.)

My adolescence, at least in the movie industry, is represented by these pictures. I was thrilled to have a top billing in two Carmel Myers films, at a time when her name and reputation were known. A stroke of good fortune, and I embraced the experience! If you take a careful look at my acting here, it was not obviously nuanced yet still there were hints of that. Some pratfalls, yes, but I perfected my sense of timing in these confections, for that is what they were, simple ‘divertissements’ meant to make audiences smile, maybe laugh out loud a little too. I had paid attention to the great comedians of the day and how they approached their work. Then, when offered the opportunity, I applied my own spin and spin I did. In fact, a couple of the scenes were breath-taking, quite literally, like when I fell into a barrel of rainwater or had to pretend to be cramped up while swimming in the ocean. Carmel was easy to work with, a good sport, game for the physicality her roles often required. Beach boy? Not at all though I did pull that scene out of the hat, made it appear convincing (being rescued from drowning by Carmel’s character.)

These are not Valentino films that people commonly speak of but my exuberance was on display, aspects of character that never came fully out of the box on other occasions. Fondly I remember the details of all those entrances and exits ~ in and out, we ran ourselves ragged while having fun. Sun-kissed shoots, through a ‘universal’ lens!” ~ Rudolph Valentino


Valentino Filmography: “The Conquering Power”

Metro Pictures, 1921 ~ directed by Rex Ingram. Valentino comments on his role, certain aspects of the story line, and a couple of the personalities that were involved in the project some 90 years after the fact.

“Well, there certainly was a lot of excess around that shoot, from the feverish visions of Rex Ingram, which translated in numerous ways, to the actual props that stood in for Père Grandet’s gold. A somewhat flat effort though the premise was extremely worthwhile. Alice (Alice Terry, Ingram’s wife) and I did know how to dovetail, meaning we were very complimentary on an energetic level. And, she was very adept at displaying an angelic countenance. Me = the ‘roué,’ personifying the height of excess from the other side of the coin. As opposed to my uncle in the film, I was both spendthrift and libertine.

I did find the big party scene amusing, especially certain images, and there were all sorts of little details I added, sometimes much to Rex’s consternation or chagrin. A potboiler in some sense yet the basic story, the redeeming quality of love, overshadowed the proceedings. Metro brass kept their hands off this one so the final product was mostly Rex’s, petulant as he sometimes could be. The script was a little creaky as novels often create that effect when turned into screenplays. Virile I was in that part though dandified too. My comeuppance forced me to re-assess, and the purity of love I realized with Alice’s character smote me, in the best way possible. I was transfigured, and transformed, by the love of a good woman. Gold, on the other hand, was an instrument of death, as it actually often is, in one manner or another.” ~ Rudolph Valentino

This film is also referred to in the essay on “Eyes” in “Valentino Speaks.”

“In one of my films, I wore a monocle. Very fitting because in that role my character’s sight was limited due to the circumstances of his birth. However, with the help of love, the conquering power, he eventually learned to use both of his eyes to see what was before him.” ~ Rudolph Valentino


Valentino Filmography: “Moran of the Lady Letty”

Question: what is your favorite film and how do you remember it?

“Actually I had several but will pick one today to discuss that is often overlooked in my lexicon of performances. Paramount wanted a hit so they came up with an offbeat story in the form of Moran. Do you think the title character was written as a lesbian? No, but as a woman doubtful that a man could fulfill her, at least not the kind that frequented her father’s ship. An interesting pastiche, Moran. I had to tip her over, so to speak, make her more supple, encourage her to be open to love. This I did and I stretched in my role as did Dorothy (Moran was played by Dorothy Dalton) in hers. We were pals and conveyed that fact in the scenes we shared. I got her (or rather my character got her) to crack open the door, the one that leads to the heart ~ where passion lies, sweet and artfully constructed. Out of my character’s element too; actually both of our characters were ‘at sea’ by dint of being together, of attempting to be a couple.

I felt carefree in this role, like I did not have to prove a thing. The physicality came easy. I relished the fight scenes, and there was a moral: even odd ducks find love, and tenderness is afoot in the strangest of circumstances. Life-changing events, that’s what took place in “Moran.” Audiences did not appreciate this film at the time but in retrospect we could have improved on some of the details.

Salt of the earth meets a salt of the sea, or playboy meets working girl, a theme as old as the pyramids. There was some sadness too, wistfulness, as both characters are a little out of the mainstream in relation to their peers. Moran and Ramón had that in common. Dandy goes to sea and finds out he loves it, also loves a girl who is rather strange for the most part, definitely not the lacy sort or the landlubbing kind. The villains were fun too, broad strokes. Certainly not a masterpiece yet on some levels instructive, this was “Moran of the Lady Letty.” ~ Rudolph Valentino


Valentino Filmography: “Cobra”

If you’d like to know more about Rudolph Valentino’s film career, please take a look at some of his performances, if only in a few ‘You Tube’ clips. Luminescent, captivating, intriguing are just some of the adjectives that come to mind. And not only that, they were always thought-provoking and very much sourced from the depths of his soul. Valentino stood out in every role he was in. That is why all of his movies are worth seeing, even the so-called minor ones.

One of my favorites is Cobra, a 1925 Ritz-Carlton/Paramount release. I like that it has a ‘contemporary’ feel and deals with issues of love and friendship. Here is what the Valentino essence has to say about it now, from his current vantage point.

“A mélange at best, and interestingly it also had elements of the best I had in me to give. Slightly autobiographical as it depicts my interest in times of yore, the world of castles, princes knocking on the door. Princesses too, ladies in their finery and plumes gallantly allowing only well-chosen gentlemen in their rooms. I particularly enjoyed the costumed scene, the flashback.

There was pathos in that character, a melancholic man so many could relate to, a world-weary playboy on the lookout for something more complete. And there were flashes of my own sensitivity and sensibility, qualities I specifically wanted to infuse my character with. The script was mundane yet working together we were able to re-frame it, inject a bit of the unexpected into what could easily have been lame. There were still a few groaners but mostly it worked ~ a morality play, and an examination of friendship, i.e. how deep can it go? I was a clothes horse in those ‘modern times’ with my own sense of propriety about the whole affair. And, my input with details was perhaps greater than usual as the Director was malleable in his make-up, willing to consider adding a few ornamental flourishes.

Count Torriani was an everyman who, after being accosted by a vamp, a cold-hearted and calculating woman, came out of the encounter with a resolve, perhaps to move on, do better, rise to another or perhaps different vibrational pose. As for my co-stars, I found Gertrude Olmstead attractive and she me so we didn’t have to act much. We felt comfortable with each other and, of course, Nita (Naldi) played the archetype oh so well.

“Cobra” was a cautionary tale yet tinged with hope, nonetheless, about letting go of obsessions, whatever form they may take. ‘Twas also about what one might do to restore one’s honor. Again, we turned a rather dreary screenplay into something sleeker than it might have been in other hands, or lands. Chalk one up for Hollywood! There were flashes of inspiration in that endeavor, from a number of quarters.”  ~ Rudolph Valentino