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