John Seitz was a well-known Hollywood Cinematographer and was paired with director Rex Ingram on 12 films. During the 1920’s he was the highest paid cinematographer and was the only one to receive credit in advertising. During the filming of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” was a film of firsts. The director worked closely with cinematographer to develop a matte shot and low-key lighting. Seitz first introduced a dance dolly when filming the tango scene with Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry. Total cost of the production was $1 million. Cinematographer John Seitz’s breathtaking pictorial effects also helped launch Valentino’s and Terry’s careers.
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.
In 1921, Rudolph Valentino was listed in the L.A. City Directory Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. phone number h7139.
In 1924 Rudolph Valentino was listed in the L.A. City Directory as a photo player, Wedgewood Place, Los Angeles, Ca. Phone number h6776.
A cream-colored silk shirt worn by screen idol Rudolph Valentino in his last movie, “Son of the Sheik,” was sold for $673 at Christie’s auction house in London on Tuesday. The trimmed shirt was among the memorabilia in a sale of clothing and relics belonging to stars of stage and screen. The shirt was bought by Ray Jackson, manager of a British magician known as “Zee” who intends to use it in his act. “He is doing a Valentino number and particularly wanted the shirt. He told me to pay up to 5,000 pounds ($8,850) so I didn’t do too badly,” Jackson told reporters. A Valentino ribbed silk sash also worn in “Son of the Sheik” was sold to an unidentified Englishwoman for $974 The film was made in 1926, the year of the actor’s death at age 31. The woman also purchased a black velvet casket belonging to Valentino and five letters written by the cult figure to Maria Elliot, British founder of the Rudolph Valentino Association. The 65 lots, originally owned by Miss Elliot, were bequeathed after her death to an Italian countess who in turn left them to the seller, an unidentified Englishman.