Valentino Filmography: “Monsieur Beaucaire”

Artfully is how I approached this film, which is what Natacha and I had in mind; a big splash, my return to the silver screen after what seemed like a rather lengthy absence. Nice work if you can get it, to play dual roles, fey-ish and foppish though they both were on some level. But, I reveled in the details, got lost in some of them too: les dentelles (laces) ~ les mouches (beauty marks) ~ les perruques (wigs.) Tout ça (all of that) was a stretch for me but at the same time expressed aspects of what my characters wanted to be. The intrigue of the court ~ le badinage (banter) ~ les froux (flourishes) ~ les poux (lice) ~ well, they all were a mash up, blend, a lovely glass of port! Yes, “Monsieur Beaucaire” had that aspect to it, decadence, but masking the power that lurked below, under the surface, as personified by the King and court. Though I jumped at the chance to act ‘en papillote’ (figuratively, in parchment or curling paper) ~ I was constrained, as it were, by the weight of the visuals and all that de luxe. The most fun was to be a swordsman, the dashing and daring of my ‘real self ‘ as opposed to the barber/confidant. The female characters, I remember, were of the cardboard variety and that was all as it should be. No real connections with my co-stars in this outing, only superficial ones. Funny, no, odd to admit that now. Well, this was an exercise in excess, lots of trappings with a very slight story line to support them, sort of like wet wash hanging from delicate tree limbs. In our efforts to get things ‘right,’ we missed the big picture, and in making this observation I mean myself, Natacha, and the Director, so blinded by our desire to create a work of art were we.

Many critics panned this movie and I would say that the whole of it boils down to one of my least favorites. Top-heavy it was, like the hair pieces we all wore and fussy, like the ribbons that festooned our pantaloons. Light and shadow, having a field day! Unfortunately, stories of another century do not always comport well with the current one. Again, what I liked best was the swordplay, my chance to inject a little ‘Fairbanks’ into the picture. Paramount was sorely disappointed with its performance. Not the right vehicle for my comeback, but quite a few poses! Un bal masqué, the perfect metaphor for this film.” ~ Rudolph Valentino

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