Reflections on ‘Convegno Valentino’

For a list of the speakers at Convegno Valentino, the seminar on the life and career of Rudolph Valentino that was sponsored by the University of Turin Film Department in 2009, please click on the following link:

As with any series of presentations, in this case a study of the ‘refractions’ of a star that continues to shine, each speaker had his or her own points of view.

Jeanine Villalobos, Valentino’s great-grand niece, was perhaps the most revelatory, and what she chose to share was quite touching: a sample of the frequent letter exchange between Rudy and his mother, family photos, and especially the composition he wrote at age 13 entitled “The Regiment Passes,” which was incredibly mature and insightful.

I appreciated Tom Slater’s presentation on June Mathis quite a bit. He gave “The Young Rajah” the respect it deserves by saying that in some ways it is the most complete of her Valentino scripts.

Paolo Orlandelli, one of the Italian presenters, described himself as “molto valentiniano” ~ meaning a proponent of all things Valentino. He spoke about RV’s problems with Paramount in detail. I later found out that he is an actor and director, as well as the person who translated “Day Dreams” and “My Private Diary” to Italian.

Here is an Edoardo Ballerini quote I particularly liked: “Valentino’s underlying pathos is what made him so appealing.” Edoardo is an American actor with extensive film and television experience. Some years ago, he wrote, directed and starred in “Goodnight Valentino,” a short film about Valentino’s meeting with H.L. Mencken, the famous writer.

In one of the Q & A sessions, there was a discussion of “le mani,” Valentino’s hands and how he used them on screen, also “lo sguardo” (his famous gaze.)

Convegno Valentino was a quality experience for all concerned, and I especially salute Giulia Carluccio and Silvio Alovisio, the principal organizers, for a job well-done. I continue to be grateful that I was able to attend. By the way, their new book, “ Rodolfo Valentino, Cinema, Cultura, Società tra Stati-Uniti e Italia negli Anni Venti,” is an excellent read! For more information, please visit