Archive for the ‘Nita Naldi’ Category

Blood And Sand 1922

21 Jun

Blood and Sand 1922 – directed by Fred Niblo. Romantic Sports Melodrama. 80 minutes Black and White 1922.

The Story: A cobbler’s son becomes a Spanish matador, marries his true love, and then is made the plaything of a masochistic rich widow.
Well, there he is, Rudolph Valentino, looking pretty good in a suit of lights. Women went mad for him. It’s a bit hard to see why. Not because he isn’t good-looking or a good actor, for he is both, but because you have to grow up with someone to become that sort of mad. Your sexual maturity has to correspond with his. You have to see something in him when your body’s lust is concurrent and sufficient as well to be entranced from film to film. Of course, your love is always one-sided. And too fat to enter one door. And stars never do return love. Gratitude, yes, love never. For the star’s need is even bigger. A star’s love-need is fat for the love of multitudes.

Valentino has a somewhat fleshy face, a beautiful mouth when in repose, a long jaw line with flat cheeks, the right one adorned by a little scar, a thick nose, a brow high and broad. His eyebrows bracket his eyes like eaves. The eyes are large, long, wide-set, and the left eye is slightly larger than the right. He has a great ass. He uses his figure for effect, but he never uses his looks for effect.

As an actor he has the problem all actors of that era had, which was to hold emotion in place so as to make the sure the story is being told. This makes their emotion spelled-out. It creates the false tension of a facial tableau.

But otherwise Valentino is easy in his work, natural, interesting in his choices and details, and you remain attentive to him because the camera dotes on him, since he plays, after all, the focal character.

Blood And Sand is a story which never works because no actor can actually play the bumpkin naiveté required as the basis for the character as he gains in worldliness, wealth, and sexual access. Even Tyrone Power years later is flaccid in the role — Anthony Quinn should have had the part, instead of what he does have, the gigolo to Donna Sol, played by the incontestable Rita Hayworth.

Nita Naldi as Donna Sol in the present film doesn’t quite stack up as a femme fatale. She is matronly of figure and so the relationship between her and Valentino doesn’t wash, although Valentino is excellent in the emotional outskirts of the part. It’s one of those tempestuous relationships you have to take at face value and suppose it is true because the story depends upon it and says it is true.

Otherwise, as parable, the story plays beautifully and always will. Valentino is 27. His technique is modern, so you actually want to engage with him. This is the sine qua non of big movie star acting and is the only reason to watch him now. Rare in his time, he was also rare then, for he died at 31.

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Posted in ACTING STYLE: SILENT GESTURAL, Nita Naldi, Rudolph Valentino

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