15 Apr 1951 – New Valentino In Next Film

Are American men going to have to go through THAT again? The preoccupation of the whole feminine population with another Great Lover – another Valentino comes to the screen, to hypnotize every woman in the land? “Valentino” the film storhy of the great movie star of the 1920’s is scheduled to open this coming Thursday. A screen newcomer Anthony Dexter, will play the part of the latin lover. Advance reports from those who have seen the picture say that Dexters resemblance to Valentino is uncanny, and photographs of Valentino at the height of his success and in the type of clothes that Dexter wears in the film bear this out. If nature has been assisted by art in heightening this resemblance, the results are striking enough to be justified. Valentino was a phenomenon in the motion picture industry and his like has not been seen since on the screen or anywhere else in the entertainment field. We’ve had plenty of idols since Valentino’s day, and probably Frank Sinatra has come closest to emulating Valentino in popularity. But our latter-day favorites have been preponderantly bobby-sox idols, and Valentino while he appealed to this age group flappers in the 1920’s was equally popular with women of all ages. The man who personified romantic love in his own era died at 31. He would have been 56 next month, if he had lived. Its high time, with the first Valentino’s memory, though fading, still capable of producting respectful awe, that a second Valentino in all his radiant youth returns tothe screen to give us a brush-up course in what constitutes perfect love. The two Valentino’s the old and the new, have some things in common, besides their looks. They both had extraordinary long names, beforethey changed them for the movies. Dexter comes from a long line of clergymen, and is the son of a Lutheron pastor, a circumstance that made his career as athe tango-dancing Valentino none too easy. He never learned to dance at all, before he got this role, not because his father objected but because he thought his parishoners might. Dexter is an athlete, and a football player, he found that the tricky footword and perfect coordination of a football player were very helpful in learning the exotic South American dances that Valentino publicized. Dexter had planned on a teaching career, although always interested in the thater. Valentino had intended to become an agricultural expert and even took a degree as a scientific farmer, before coming to this country. Both actors were recommended for films by a woman. Dexter won his role when Katharine Cornell, with whose company of “the Barretts of Wimpole Street” he had been touring, suggested his name to producer Edward Small, who had been looking for the right man to play the Valentino role for more than 10 years. Since 1938, when he first got the idea of making a picture about Valentino, Small had consideredd thousands
of aspirants for the job. The search ended when he tested Dexter. Valentinos real start in his career came when June Mathis, famous Hollywood scenarist of the period, chose him for a role in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” one of his best pictures. His popularity was instant. He went on to do “Blood and Sand” and “The Sheik” and the “Son of the Sheik” his last picture. The Valentino films have never been really forgotten. From time to time, one or the other of them is revived somewhere, and last year, when “The Golden Twenties” a March of Time Production, was presented by RKO one of the sequences showed Valentino and his leading lady Vilma Banky, in a scene from “The Son of the Sheik”. Even by present-day standards, these films show the star of a quarter of a century ago to have been dashing, handsome and talented. Dexter who was not suppose to see any of the orginal films while working on “Valentino” nevertheless managed to catch two of them, “The Four Horsemen” and The Sheik. Dexter was impressed, “Valentino’s technique” he says now, was 20 years ahead of his time. He consistently underplayed, but you are always conscious of a terrific force held back, and in perfect control. there was something pantherlike about him”. He hopes that he has projected some of the qualities he admired in Valentino in his own motion picture role.

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