Synopsis by Hal Erickson
One of the most notorious flops in the history of Columbia Pictures, Valentino is actually fairly entertaining -- but only when regarded as a work of fiction. In dramatizing the life of silent-screen Latin lover Rudolph Valentino, screenwriter George Bruce ignored virtually all of the facts, even those in the public domain; in addition, with the exception of Valentino, all the real-life characters' names have been changed to avoid lawsuits. What's left is an amusing fairy tale about a young Neapolitan dancer named Rudolph Valentino (Anthony Dexter), who joins a U.S.-bound dance troupe headed by his lover Marie Torres (Dona Drake). Onboard ship, Valentino makes the acquaintance of famous movie star Joan Carlisle (Eleanor Parker), sparking a brief transatlantic romance. Once in America, Valentino supports himself as a dishwasher and gigolo before Carlisle introduces him to big-time director William King (Richard Carlson), who arranges for the young immigrant to attain a few extra roles in Hollywood. Valentino becomes an overnight star after being selected to play the lead in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As his fame rises, Valentino reignites his affair with Carlisle, but will not commit himself to marriage. She marries King on the rebound, but the romance starts all over again when Valentino and Carlisle are cast together in The Sheik. At the height of his stardom, Valentino dies of peritonitis. The film ends with the mysterious "Lady in Black" making her annual pilgrimage to Valentino's tomb. It serves no purpose to list the film's many inaccuracies and anachronisms, though it's worth mentioning that his last film was not The Sheik but Son of the Sheik. As a filmed biography, Valentino is worthless. As a movie pure and simple, it's not all that bad. Even the much-maligned Anthony Dexter, an unknown who was cast purely on the basis of physical resemblance, is passable in the title role, though he comes nowhere near the original Valentino's magnetism and charisma.
actor, death, fame, legend [fable], love, movie-camera, romance, sex-symbol, stars [celebrities], success, dance [art], forces [military], Latin [language], lover, news, pain, reporter