Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Silent Oscars: 1921 (Unofficial)

Hollywood pretty boys are a dime a dozen—the list runs in an unbroken line from Robert Taylor to Orlando Bloom. On the other hand, pretty boys who can dominate the screen, turn a nation's female population on its collective ear and in the space of six years put together a career that still defines big screen sex appeal are a rare commodity. That Rudolph Valentino could consistently make pot-boiler hokum like The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse and The Sheik must-see movie watching is why he was one of the greatest stars of the silent era.

Would I want to watch Valentino play Hamlet? No, of course not. But then neither would I want to watch Laurence Olivier fondle Agnes Ayres in a tent in the middle of the Arabian desert.

Generally speaking, when it comes to sitting in a dark theater watching flickering images on a screen, what I want to see is something that both moves me and lodges itself permanently in my memory, whether or not it has any socially redeeming value. Otherwise I'd skip movies altogether and while away the hours with a textbook.

Watch The Sheik here for yourself:

Picture: The Kid (prod. Charles Chaplin)

Actor: Rudolph Valentino (The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse and The Sheik)

Actress: Alla Nazimova (Camille)

Director: Victor Sjöström (The Phantom Carriage)

Supporting Actor: Jackie Coogan (The Kid)

Supporting Actress: Bebe Daniels (The Affairs Of Anatol)

Screenplay: June Mathis (The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse)

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