Valentino really is forever!
Donna Hill | San Francisco | 08/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a fabulous job Jeff Masino of Flicker Alley and his co-producer on this project, Tracy Terhune did for this beautiful 2 DVD set devoted to the silent hero and hearthrob Rudolph Valentino.
For the Valentino fans who have been waiting for this set, I am certain that I am preaching to the choir here, but let me tell you that you will not be at all disappointed when you put in either of the 2 DVDs into your player.
There are four films in the set, and as Emily Leider wisely notes in the booklet, this does cover important periods in Valentino's ascent on the road to stardom.
In chronological order then:
A Society Sensation predates Valentino's stardom, he was a contract player at Universal and not quite on the brink of stardom. He plays a young American which was quite the change for he was typically cast as a villain at this stage of his career.
Stolen Moments captures Valentino just before his meteoric rise to fame in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (hello, Warners, this film NEEDS to be on DVD), he is a slick villain and it is clear, he is taking a great delight in the thankless role, so smooth and despicable he is!
Moran of the Lady Letty is a sleeper hit from 1921, filmed after Valentino made a splash as The Sheik and it is a real sleeper in the way of Valentino films. Valentino plays a young and weathy dandy of San Francisco society who ends up being shanghaied and becomes a man, and finds love with his unlikely sea captain, Moran of the Lady Letty. Valentino gives a very naturalistic performance and it's worth it to see him looking every inch an able seaman swabbing decks.
Of the films, the disappointment to some will be the restored portions of The Young Rajah. But, let's face it folks, it's all we are likely ever to get on this film. The care that went into trying to recreate the experience of the film is not to be sneered at. Cinematically, the print leaves one wanting, but there is gold in there, too.
I cannot even go into the extras, there are so many. The photos and memorabilia and fabulous to see, even the DVD menus are done with great care and attention to detail. There is much rare candid footage of Valentino, footage of his former home Falcon Lair and an incredible collection of photos from Valentino's close friend Paul Ivano, none of which have seen the light of day prior to this DVD. There is also a new documentary on Valentino Forever and the history of the annual memorial services in Hollywood. I could go on and on, if you love silent film, if you love Valentino, this is a terrific set to have.
This set is 100% worth every penny, and then some, as there is so much to it. It will keep a Valentino fan happy for many many hours. Do not hesitate, this is so worth having. As a Valentino fan you owe it to yourself, and a silent film fan, you owe it to yourself and if you wait to receive it as an Xmas gift, you will be sorry you waited.
Valentino in this set truly is forever."
A boon for Valentino and silent film fans
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 09/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This wonderful 2-disc set is crammed with a variety of exciting extra features besides rare and less-known films by Valentino, and for the effort to put it all together in this beautifully presented package this Flicker Alley DVD release already deserves a full 5-star rating. As one of Hollywood's greatest screen legends from the silent era, Rudolph Valentino is still attracting fans of all ages decades after his untimely death in 1926, which is a testament of the extraordinary on-screen magnetism that made him such a huge star in his short-lived career. The films on these two DVDs, however, are not the ones that made him one of Hollywood's first sex symbols and idol for many swooning women, but they do fill the gaps and show Valentino in transition from playing villain roles in short or less significant films, to being the star in a hero-type role for which he is best remembered these days. As such, there are none of the trademark intense and soulful looks in these earlier films for which he later became so beloved, nor are they of the same calibre as "The Sheik" or "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", but they are important steps in Valentino's career which would interest not only his fans but also the general silent film enthusiast. Two of the films are only about half an hour in length, and the picture quality is not the best, but with good piano or organ accompaniment and an interesting story, they are enjoyable to watch. "Stolen Moments" intrigued me the most, mainly because this was Valentino's last villain role, and wearing a moustache, he appears like a different person altogether. The 1-hour feature, "Moran of the Lady Letty" is a standard romance-adventure with Valentino as the hero who finds freedom and love on the high seas when he is shanghaied by a crew involved in illegal trade, but perhaps the highlight of the four films is the one that is incomplete and has been lovingly reconstructed, namely "The Young Rajah". The themes of mystic Indian powers of foresight which Valentino as the young rajah has inherited, but who was whisked to safety New England when his father's throne was usurped, make this one of his most fascinating and interesting films, even in this incomplete condition. The use of many still photographs and good intertitles to fill the gaps summarizes the story very well, especially in the first half of the film which is sadly missing. The film footage that does exist is in poor shape, but all together this condensed and reconstructed version which still runs for about an hour is satisfying to watch nevertheless, and gives insight into Valentino's other popular roles of the early 1920s.
Along with this variety of four different films from Valentino's transition years, there is a very nice little booklet and many bonus features of all sorts from slide shows, videos of Valentino's Beverly Hills home, never-before-seen short featurettes such as behind-the-scenes on "The Sheik" and a 1931 tour around Hollywood, profiles on many people Valentino knew and worked with, and a radio interview with the `Lady in Black' who was seen attending Valentino's memorial every year on the anniversary of his death, and who has become part of the enduring Valentino legacy and memorial. Needless to say, this DVD set is a real treat for Valentino fans, but also interesting historic information for the serious film enthusiast.
Truly Phenomenal Set.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 09/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once again Flicker Alley has come through with another top notch release to join GARDEN OF EDEN, JUDEX, and PHANTOM. VALENTINO: REDISCOVERING AN ICON OF SILENT CINEMA (to give the set it's full title) is a 2-DVD set that contains 4 of Rudy's lesser known films and a boatload of extras. This time around the extras are better than the films offered. This is primarily because 2 of the 4 films survive in shortened form (STOLEN MOMENTS, A SOCIETY SENSATION) while a third (THE YOUNG RAJAH) is actually a realization created from stills and surviviving 16mm footage. Only MORAN OF THE LADY LETTY (based on a book by Frank Norris) is presented more or less intact with proper tints and title cards which is good because this follow-up to THE SHEIK shows Paramount creating a more macho image for Valentino to counter criticisms about his "masculinity" and to show off his physique to good advantage. There are lines/title cards in the beginning referring to him as "a dancing master" and a "lilly of the valley".
The extras though are something else altogether. Bonus films, rare footage, landmarks, rememberances, and a 10 page booklet chock full of photos and information. The packaging is first rate and the quality of the material is as good as it can be which makes this set ideal for people just becoming acquainted with Valentino as well as the longtime afficionado. For those just becoming familiar with Rudy don't forget to check out the major Valentino releases such as THE SHEIK/SON OF THE SHEIK, BLOOD AND SAND, COBRA, and FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (where is the Photoplay edition on DVD?). Hardcore fans will already have these titles in their collections along with everything else Valentino. Now if Flicker Alley could just see their way to releasing to the home market their collection of early Howard Hughes films (TWO ARABIAN KNIGHTS, THE RACKET, THE MATING CALL) then silent film fans would have something else to be thankful for. On a more scholarly note Flicker Alley's DISCOVERING CINEMA containing documentaries on the development of color and sound in the movies is also now available."