Rudolph Valentino's star power burns through this adaptation of Vicente Blasco Ibanez's exotic melodrama of an Andalusian peasant boy who becomes the greatest matador in all of Spain. The swaggering but sincere Valentino m... more »arries good Catholic girl Lila Lee, a coy innocent with bow-tie lips, but is seduced by voracious vamp Nita Naldi, a high-society man-eater who decides to add a bullfighter to her list of conquests. Journeyman director Fred Niblo (the 1925 version of Ben-Hur) mounts this grand piece of romantic nonsense with little subtlety but plenty of spectacle, and in the best Hollywood tradition celebrates the macho glamour of the sport while decrying its cruelty. While it lacks the grace or style of Rouben Mamoulian's 1941 color remake, Valentino's charisma and confidence and smoldering eyes give the film a simmering, sultry life that no remake has been able to capture. --Sean Axmaker« less
"The quality of this film (or at least the version I purchased) did not seem to be to the standards of other Valentino films (picture seemed grainy and the speed seemed much faster), but I still rate it among one of the best. Like one review wrote, it does lack the style of the later Tyrone Power remake; however, Power comes nowhere close to Valentino's brooding, sensual portrayal of Juan Gallardo, and Nita Naldi was much more convincing as the witchy Dona Sol than Rita Hayworth, and plays the range of emotions (from begging Gallardo to love her to coldly reacting to his death)extremely well. This 1922 version captures the spirit of the bullfight remarkably well in spite of the limitations of silent film-making, and seemed incredibly authentic. Now - about Valentino. I was puzzled at the over-emphasized eyebrows and wish the make-up artists had not found it necessary to use the effect, as Valentino would have projected a Spanish image easily with his natural dramatic looks alone. But, either way, he is intensely sexy, powerful, brooding, smoldering and hypnotic as usual. I enjoyed his portrayal of the youth Juan, especially his tenderness toward his mother. His transition from youth to adult matador was natural and believable. The scene in which Dona Sol begs him to love her and proclaims that she longs for him to "beat" her with his "strong" hands was highly erotic and was packed with a sexual tension that can't be matched by anyone other than Valentino and his leading ladies. I may be biased, because I am crazy about any vehicle which showcases Rudolph Valentino; however, this film carries its own and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Once again, Valentino has captured my heart, and I recommend this film to all lovers of romance."
What I think....
Rambova | Arizona, United States | 10/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think this is the best film Valentino ever did! His acting in the romantic scenes lacks the over the top feel that the loves scenes in "The Sheik" have. He brings a sincere, believeable quality to the character. Also, something that the reviews here seem to miss is the comedic moments in the film. In the scene when the black Moor servant offers to light Valentino's cigarette... the look on his face is priceless! Having the video of this film as well I noticed several scenes on the DVD edition that were missing from the VHS edition.
The DVD edition also includes a wonderfully funny piece of Will Rogers' "Blood And Sand" spoof."
Why women loved Valentino
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 12/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Made in 1922, this is the first film that had his name on the marquee as a star, having captivated the hearts of millions of women a year earlier as "The Sheik".The previous reviewer is lacking knowledge in two areas: The art of silent films, and what makes a lot of us women tick...he asks, "What's the big deal ?". Rudolph Valentino on screen was a man with a passionate heart, and a gentle soul, a combination that drives women wild. He was also a superb actor. Watch his hands throughout the film...like when he leads his bride to the bedroom, or the swift wipe before he takes Doña Sol's hand. There are many little subtleties that are wonderful...and silent films aren't "old". They are a special art form unto themselves, and can't be compared to the films of today.This is a truly magnificent film. I find the the way it's photographed (by Alvin Wyckoff) enthralling, the sets terrific, the bullfighting scenes compelling, and of course, there's Valentino...still captivating after all these years.This tape also includes an 11 minute piece of memorabilia from 1923. A film of Valentino judging a beauty contest. It's amusing, and interesting to see footage of him off-screen."
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 12/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is such an incredible movie, at least as good as any movie of today. People who complain that silent movies are boring or obsolete clearly haven't watched any or seen an incredible one like this. There are enough periodic text blocks on the screen to convey what's going on or what someone just said to follow along just fine, and the rest of the time yoiu can follow along by watching the interactions between the characters, facial expressions, and body language. Some silent movies may be overacted, but this one isn't; maybe people of today have just forgotten how to process emotions and a story through nonverbal channels, or what a truly expressive face looks like.
This was the first Valentino movie I saw, and now I like him even more. He looks even more beautiful in motion than he does in still pictures, and you can appreciate that he was more than just a stunningly beautiful face. So many modern-day actors don't have faces that are that expressive, nor can they convey emotions like tenderness, lust, sensuality, sexuality, anger, shock, surprise, etc., through their body language and other nonverbal cues. The wedding night scene, when Juan goes to find the nervous Carmen, holds her from behind, and sweeps his hand out, is incredibly erotic; I find it much more thrilling than a graphic sex scene. The brooding sexuality and all that's left unsaid and undone leaves so much more to the imagination, and being as old-fashioned as I am, I feel that less is truly more. The scene where he gets down on his knees and begs Carmen for forgiveness as he holds her and rests his head against her side is also very tender and moving. And so much of the character he plays wasn't acting; he really was that caring, gentle, tender, emotional, loving, and passionate in real life. His heart and soul were just as beautiful as his face.
The ending is incredibly powerful, emotional, and chilling as well. The whole movie stays with you for a long time. They really don't make movies or actors like that anymore."
Anyechka | 02/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another of Rudolph Valentino's cinematic triumphs. He stars as a bullfighter who is torn between two women. It's a very good film and the bullfighting scenes are very interesting to watch. Great performances by Valentino, Lila Lee and Nita Naldi make this a good film."