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7 Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino: Legacy Collection of the Latin Lover

Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino, Top Films of the Latin Lover

Welcome to the Memorial Film Collection of Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino may have passed away in the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, he will never be really gone.

Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to meet the Latin Lover, and to witness his deep penetrating gaze, all you have to do, is watching one (or more) of his movies.

But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present the 7 Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino.

If this is your first ride on the time-travelling FrameTrek Wagon, here’s what this is all about:

We choose a topic, in this case: “Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino”, and we set sail for a journey, where the bricks of the trek are made of movie frames, and each stop represents a magnificent achievement in Film.

The Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino is an episode of FrameTrek’s Hall of Legends: A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest artists of World Cinema, and their most significant works.


Meet Rudolph Valentino, the Latin Lover

1895-1926

Meet Rudolph Valentino, the Latin Lover, Best Movies

Italian-American actor Rudolph Valentino is considered to be the first male sex symbol of World Cinema and one of the great romantic idols of the silent era.

Valentino was also an early pop icon and gigolo, widely known for his popular onscreen persona, referred to as the Latin Lover or the Great Lover.

Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas upon which the women paint their dreams.

Rudolph Valentino

He was born of a French mother and an Italian father, grew up in Italy, and he spoke at least four languages fluently.

When he arrived to America from Italy in 1913, he went through a succession of casual jobs such as dish washer, gardener and waiter before getting work as a taxi dancer.

His acting career had a slow start, filled with minor or unimportant roles, but still, his potential did not go unnoticed.

All he needed, was a major role in a big movie, so the world can witness his sexually passionate performance and male gaze. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse gave him this very shot, and the rest is history.

He is responsible for bringing the Argentine Tango to America, first performing the famous dance in The Four Horsemen, and later in a successful American national dance tour with his wife.

While he was a popular draw with female audiences, some male audiences mocked his onscreen persona and questioned his masculinity.

Valentino was interested in poetry too. In 1923 he published a short volume of sentimental poetry entitled Day Dreams. Thanks to his enormous female fan base, the book sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Would you like to read it?

So yeah, there’s plenty to talk about, when it comes to Rudolph Valentino, but this article concentrates on his Top 7 Films, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

After all, an actor is as good as his greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to familiarize yourself with an actor, is through watching his best films as a marathon.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best movies of Rudolph Valentino carry you to the cinematic lands of silent romance!

See FrameTrek's definition of 'Best' and the story behind this List (click to expand) ↴

How to define ‘Best’?

That’s a pretty good question, since ‘Best’ is relative. A movie can be considered being among the best for multiple reasons, such as: Critical Acclaim, Audience Feedback, Box Office Performance, Awards and Nominations, Iconic Status, Popularity, Watchability, and even Personal Preference, or for being part of a famous list such as the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die or Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list – or because that particular movie defined its era, or because it was a defining achievement of the artist(s) involved.

So how did we pick the Top 7 Movies of Rudolph Valentino?

Well, it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t easy! While composing the Best Films of Rudolph Valtino list, we tried to consider all of the factors mentioned in the ‘How to define Best’ paragraph above, and then some.

We believe that the movies that made the cut should not compete with one another any further, so we will just present them in the order they were released in.

If you watch these movies in a chronological order, you will pretty much walk the path of Rudolph Valentino’s life, following him from the start of his career to the end.



Presenting the 7 Best Films of Rudolph Valentino

Chronologically


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent epic war drama romance film.

Story: An extended family split up in France and Germany find themselves on opposing sides of the battlefield during World War I. (IMDB)

This is the film that turned Valentino into a superstar and associated him with the image of the Latin Lover.

Why is The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse among the best movies of Rudolph Valentino?
✓ Often regarded as one of the first true anti-war films.
✓ It had a huge cultural impact and adjusted for inflation, this film is the highest-grossing silent movie ever.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Camille (1921)

Camille (1921), Alla Nazimova, Best Films of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic drama film, co-starring Alla Nazimova.

Story: A courtesan and an idealistic young man fall in love, only for her to give up the relationship at his status-conscious father’s request. (IMDB)


The Sheik (1921)

The Sheik (1921), Agnes Ayres, Top Movies of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic drama film, co-starring Agnes Ayres.

First part of Rudolph Valentino’s Sheik Duology.

Story: A charming Arabian sheik becomes infatuated with an adventurous, modern-thinking Englishwoman and abducts her to his home in the Saharan desert. (IMDB)

Why is The Sheik among the best films of Rudolph Valentino?
✓ It was one of the most popular and most successful movies of the 1920s.
✓ It helped to solidify Valentino’s image as an international star and as one of the first male sex symbols of the silver screen.
✓ The movie had a significant influence on pop culture and on future romantic films.


Beyond the Rocks (1922)

Beyond the Rocks (1922), Sam Wood, Gloria Swanson, Top Films of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic drama film directed by Sam Wood and co-starring Gloria Swanson.

It was long considered lost, but a nitrate print of the film was discovered in 2003 in a private collection.

Story: A young woman marries an older millionaire and then falls in love with a handsome nobleman on her honeymoon. (IMDB)



Blood and Sand (1922)

Blood and Sand (1922), Fred Niblo, Lila Lee, Nita Naldi, Greatest Movies of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic drama film directed by Fred Niblo, co-starring Lila Lee, and Nita Naldi.

Story: A toreador’s familial and social life is threatened when he has an affair. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ Reportedly, Rudolph Valentino liked to eat traditional Italian foods, heavily spiced with garlic. Lee had to ask that her love scenes with Valentino be shot in the morning so she wouldn’t have to deal with his garlic breath after lunch.

Why is Blood and Sand among the top movies of Rudolph Valentino?
✓ The film was a box office hit and was one of the top-grossing films of 1922.
✓ It was one of the most successful films of Valentino’s career, and it cemented him as a major box office attraction.
✓ Reportedly one of Rudolph Valentino’s favorites of his films.


The Eagle (1961)

The Eagle (1961), Vilma Bánky, Louise Dresser, Greatest Films of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic drama comedy co-starring Vilma Bánky and Louise Dresser.

Story: A wanted Russian lieutenant becomes a masked vigilante seeking vengeance upon the man who stole his family’s land, only to fall for his charming daughter. (IMDB)

Between Frames:
✪ Rudolph Valentino wanted to project a more aggressively masculine image in this film, so he sent home the stunt double and did the spectacular opening stunt – leaping onto a horse and chasing down a runaway carriage – himself.

Why is The Eagle among the top films of Rudolph Valentino?
✓ It received good reviews from the critics, did well at the box office, and proved to be popular with both male and female fans.
✓ Notable in cinematic history for its famous extended tracking shot of the food-laden table in the banquet scene.
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.


The Son of the Sheik (1926)

The Son of the Sheik (1926), Vilma Bánky, Best Movies of Rudolph Valentino
Where to Watch?   More info

American silent romantic adventure drama film co-starring Vilma Bánky.

Second part of Rudolph Valentino’s Sheik Duology.

Story: The son of the sheik and a dancing girl fall in love, but when he is made to believe she has betrayed him he seeks revenge. (IMDB)

Valentino’s final film. It went into general release nearly two weeks after his death.

Between Frames:
✪ In the 1930s Sheik Condoms, named after his most famous role, were introduced and featured his silhouette on the packaging for years.

Why is The Son of the Sheik among the greatest movies of Rudolph Valentino?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Some critics have heralded Valentino’s performance in this film as one of the best of his career.
✓ One of the most popular and most successful movies of the 1920s.


The end of Rudolph Valentino’s Story

Valentino died young and unexpectedly, in 1926, at age 31 due to ruptured gastric ulcer and general peritonitis. He passed away less than two weeks before the release of The Son of the Sheik.

Don’t pull down the blinds. I feel fine. I want the sunlight to greet me!

Rudolph Valentino’s last words

His death caused mass hysteria among his female fan base. He had two funerals. One in New York, the other in Los Angeles. His body was transported across the country between the two.

There were over 80 thousand heart-broken mourners at his New York funeral. It almost ended in a riot…

Following his untimely death, a bogus, composite photograph of Valentino ascending up to heaven was released for sale, and was snatched up by his legion of fans.

He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6164 Hollywood Blvd. in 1960.

If you’d like to dig deeper into the story of Rudolph Valentino, you may want to read his biograpy, Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W. Leider.



…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 7 Greatest Films of Rudolph Valentino

If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

Best movies of Rudoph Valentino
The Legacy of the Latin Lover
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1921
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
The Sheik 1921
The Sheik (1921)
*Part of the Collection: Rudolph Valentino’s Sheik Duology
Camille 1921
Camille (1921)
Beyond the Rocks 1922
Beyond the Rocks (1922)
Blood and Sand 1922
Blood and Sand (1922)
The Eagle 1925
The Eagle (1925)
The Son of the Sheik 1926
The Son of the Sheik (1926)
*Part of the Collection: Rudolph Valentino’s Sheik Duology
*Click any title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options

Is there a movie on the list you’d replace with another one? Share your thoughts below.


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2 Comments

  1. insightanalytical

    Enjoyed this very much! Nicely put together, with great images …I’m actually delving into a lot of the history and finding many things to correct/update…you’d like my posts about those fake “photographs,” for sure! Hope you can visit my site and give me your thoughts!! I have a nice collection but haven’t finished putting it up yet in the Memorabilia section due to time constraints. I have some in the posts, including a paper from the week of his death. I see you have a YT channel, so I will check it out. I’m putting up videos of my blog posts on my channel, Rudolph Valentino Connections. The actual written blog posts are more detailed with sources, etc.

  2. insightanalytical

    PS…I’m chuckling over your omission of Beaucaire! I hate the book, very annoying to read, and the film…well…I can see RV doing a sly job of it…but I really do not like the way it was filmed…and, I really didn’t enjoy the whole thing in the end! Rambova’s influence…mmmm.

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