Monthly Archives: Jan 2022
In 1914, at the Waldorf Astoria Wedgewood Room, there was a shy dark featured young man who was paid $7 a week. He always sat moody, tense and by himself in a corner. A woman patron when entered the ballroom was met by the manager who would clap his hands. Valentino must jump and dance with her and afterwards he hated it when the woman tipped him..
We just received two books by Rudolph Valentino. One shows the practical man, while the other is the product of an aesthetic mood. The titles are “How You Can Keep Fit” and “Daydreams”. The fit book is straightaway prose and its character maybe judged by the following chapter headings: The Foundation of Strength Is a Good Back, You are Judged By Your Chest and Your Shoulders and Let Your Abdomen Have the Strength of Iron Bands”. But Mr. Valentino does not derive from Sparta alone. He can turn quite readily from deep breathing to soft sighing. Even though he chins himself 50 times a morning in front of an open window, languor still creeps in his life. It is “Daydreams” that we find “Three Generations of Kisses” “Morphia” and “The Philosophy of a Pessimist”. Apparently, a good circulation is not enough to keep a man from gloomy thoughts. Many a melting heart beats behind an abdomen of iron. A man may touch his toes 100 times and yet find that he cannot put a finger upon the intangible. If Valentino wins a permanent place in our literature, he is going to cause all sorts of trouble for the commentators of succeeding generations. Two schools of criticism will rise out the conflict. One will content that Valentino is the literary heir of Shelly, while the other will maintain that he has picked up the torch of Walter Camp. And both schools will be right. To us the poetic Valentino is more appealing than the stern ascetic who writes: “The truth is that in order to keep the human body strong, flexible and in tip-top shape one simply must keep up enough physical activity to insure a maximum of condition. Just as soon as one becomes lazy or careless, he begins to slip back. There is no reason why one should slip back. There is no reason indeed, but genius is neither logical nor reasonable. Pagan man knew is neither logical nor reasonable. Pagan man knew that inconsistency was an attribute of the gods and demigods. Great Jupiter had a good back and shoulders and chest above reproach, but he did break training upon occasion. And so, it is with Rudolph Valentino. He has been careless, at the very least, or he could hardly have penned the bitter lament which occurs in the opening stanzas of “Cremation”: “Just a packet of letters tied with a bit of blue; Just a packet of letters, that once were sent by you. To one who proved unworthy of the love inscribed within the tiny packet of letters, a witness of my sin”. Consider still another contrast between Valentino the prophet of Puritanism and Valentino the Bacchic of the groves. We quote first from “How to Keep Fit” “When working in pictures in California, I make it my business to be in bed by 1030, if not sooner. Ten thirty is the extreme limit. To stay up any later than that is dissipation in its most exaggerated form. Only a few big yearly events ever tempt me to ignore this retiring hour of 1030; at least when working in pictures. The truth is that I could not keep up with the exacting demands of my work otherwise. In California, I always arise at 6 o’clock and then put in about 45 minutes in my gymnasium at boxing, wrestling, and throwing the medicine ball. After such a workout I have a shower. The task of reconciling these apparent contradictions is beyond us. We give up and leave the problem, “Rudolph Valentino May or Myth” to the ages. For that is where it belongs
Filmed in 1926, “Son of the Sheik” still has its entertainment value as long as it is viewed in its proper light and movie setting. Patrons of the cinema where this picture is being shown, will think it very funny. Remember Valentino would not have given a similar performance today. He is dead and unable to protest against a revival of a 13 year old film. The acting profession has changed a great deal since the silent era. Judge this film for yourself movie goers and the characterization as equal to that of Charles Chaplain and Harold Lloyd. That is being unkind to a great artist.