Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Rudolph Valentino Collection|
Actor: Rudolph Valentino
He was the original Hollywood heartthrob. Rudolph Valentino lit up the silver screen with his smoldering sexual presence and exotic good looks. In the early days of the silent cinema, Valentino?s allure was unmatched. His ... more »
A pretty decent budget collection
Cody K. | Jamokidence, Rhode Island, USA | 01/15/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's tough with a collection like this to assign a star rating, but Amazon demands one, so I'm giving this set three stars; not for the content, which is well-known and available in better form from other distributors such as Flicker Alley, Kino, and Image, as well as in worse form from less reputable labels. Not to damn it with faint praise, but this is a good -- and only good -- set, especially when available at a low price. It would make a fine starter set for those just getting interested in silent film and/or Valentino.
There are five films on three discs, with a combined viewing time of about seven hours, a fair amount of bang for the buck. Finding them is a puzzle, though, since there's no clue given whatsoever as to what films are on which disc -- there's no booklet, unless one was removed from the used set I bought (in which case I apologize for the allegation that one doesn't exist), and no titles on the discs themselves, nor on the case. A star off for this oversight, which is either just plain dumb, or sadistic, I dunno which.
The sequence is:
The Married Virgin (1918), a very good film with fine natural performances in which two women stand out: Kathleen Kirkham, as Mrs. McMillan has some scenes where a lot's communicated with economy and subtlety, and she's graceful and beautiful in them. Vera Sisson, as the young Mary McMillan, is expressive and brings a lot of sweetness to her role of an innocent who sacrifices her fate out of love for her father. In the process of the story, the film avoids moralizing, in a PRE-pre-code way that would probably have been restricted more even by the second third of the twenties. The print here is not half bad for a film of the period, and the music is a melange of themes that work more often than they don't.
The Sheik (1921), the movie that Made Rudy Rudy, from which his star was launched. It looks pretty good here, and it's entertaining as always. The biggest problem with this particular presentation is the music, which ranges between some decent authentic middle-eastern orchestral music when Valentino's in the picture, to uber-schmaltzy 50's lounge music, the Agnes Ayres theme, apparently. I shut it off after awhile and switched over to my Image Entertainment copy -- much better music there.
Blood and Sand (1922), Rudy as a bullfighter In Old Seville, mixed up with Nita Naldi as a major vamp, beautiful in black lace, etc., while his sweet, innocent girlfriend stands by and suffers. I don't think this is one of Valentino's finest moments, but he's kind of extra-hot in his own way with his natural unibrow allowed free range. The picture's not bad at all on this title, and I'd guess from the likewise not-bad-at-all soundtrack that it's sourced from a circa 70s rental print.
The Eagle (1925) - This is quite a pleasing, if just a little soft, transfer of this very good Valentino opus, in my opinion one of his best performances. The Image Entertainment edition of this has been criticized for its image quality, so I suspect that the available source prints of this film may be few, and while I haven't seen the Image version, this one seemed very adequate to me. The music's not bad, except for the kinda disconcerting occasional recurrence of some cappriccio-espagnol-ish themes (the movie's set in Russia!) this is probably the best presentation on the set. It's a good story, 20s style, with our Rudy having only one excruciating moment of over-emoting, Vilma Banky doing a great job at being Mascha, and Louise Dresser playing a nuanced older woman dealing with issues of balancing power with passion.
Cobra (1925) is an excellent Valentino vehicle in which he plays a tough-luck guy whose biggest problem is that women won't leave him alone. The story's maudlin but entertaining, and again Rudy has only one scene in which his acting is over the top. The music is all right, but a better score is available on the Image release, along with a better picture.
A Society Sensation (1918) -- A very poor print of an unremarkable (except for Valentino and the totally lovable Carmel Myers) film cut down from feature length to 24 minutes (basically, not much more than Rudy's scenes and whatever else was necessary to flesh out the story) when he achieved fame in the 20s. A much, much better view of this title is available on the Flicker Alley set. In this set, it's hidden among the extras on Disc 3, which include the Mineralava Tour beauty contest footage of 1923, and the Astor Pictures 1941 short documentary about Rudy.
Inevitably, some sort of controversy will develop over whether or not Passport has the rights to these transfers, and whether this set should exist -- same as happened with Passport's previous Cecil B. DeMille set. I'll just say this about that: the folks who do indisputably own the rights to these (or the DeMille) films aren't deaf or blind, and they certainly aren't dumb. Let's leave it up to them to decide if their rights have been infringed upon -- they know this set is available. This set is good, but I doubt that anybody's going to mistake it for the far superior efforts of Flicker Alley, Kino, or Image."