1950 – Did Valentino Prefer Tile to Tango On?

In 1950, Gloria Swanson, a former costar of Rudolph Valentino starred in the academy award nominated movie titled Sunset Boulevard about a faded silent film legend named Norma Desmond.  Throughout the movie there are several scenes that refer to Valentino. The first is her 1929 Italian luxury automobile an Isotta-Fraschini 8A, for $28,000.  This car symbolized luxury and elegance in the Silent Film world and Norma (Gloria) said this was the same type of car Valentino owned.  The car used in Sunset Boulevard is now displayed in Museo Nazionale dell ‘Automobile in Turin.


The second is Norma and Joe (William Holden) dance the tango together.  To shoot the tango, cinematographer John Seitz used a device called a Dance Dolly, which amounted to a sort of moveable platform on wheels. Nothing special there. But when you learn that Seitz first introduced the technique to shoot Valentino dancing the tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you might be more than a little impressed.


“Valentino said there’s nothing like tile for a tango!” — Norma Desmond to Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (1950)…

Research shows there is nothing that truly says Valentino preferred tile to tango. In 1922, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino did dance the tango together in the silent film “Beyond the Rocks”.  So I would like to believe Valentino did prefer tile to tango on.


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