Welcome to Rudolph Valentino Week, my retrospective on my favourite actor on the week of his 90th Jahrzeit (death anniversary). I’ll be discussing what Rudy means to me, his tragic death, the mob scene funeral, his filmography, and his reception and legacy. Originally, I’d planned to have several posts about his films which turned 95 this year, but I decided to hold those off for their own respective weeks.
Here are some of my thoughts on what Rudy means to me and why I love him so much, some taken from past posts and some brand-new.
I fell in love with Rudy the moment I first saw him in motion, 17 November 2004, the night I saw Blood and Sand (1922). My heart literally skipped a beat! I just knew, from that first moment, that he’d become my favourite actor.
I was also struck by what a kind, gentle, sincere face he had. I’d seen him in still photographs before, but not till I saw him in motion did I fully appreciate his beauty and understand his appeal.
Rudy was such a beautiful man, both inside and outside. He was a sweet, gentle soul who loved animals, was very good with kids (though sadly never had any of his own), respected women, wrote poetry, was intelligent and well-read, appreciated art and the finer things in life, respected his elders and those who’d opened doors for him, had great respect for other cultures and races, and had a very strong work ethic.
Rudy’s views on women weren’t exactly the most progressive, but I’d honestly much prefer a guy who thinks of women as “the fair/weaker sex” and wants his wife to stay home and raise children than a guy who beats and rapes women, or who thinks women don’t have any brains or rights. He also didn’t think it was unmanly to display emotions or have a soft side.
He once said, “The caveman method I abhor, and I do not believe that it is ever successful with the woman who is worth having. Who could desire a woman taken by force? Who would gain any pleasure from loving or caressing a woman who did not give in return?”
Rudy had exactly the kind of look I love in a man. I’m all about the soft, juvenile facial features, and a kind, sincere face. Square jaws and six-pack abs have never done anything for me.
I also love a man who’s not afraid to look pretty or beautiful, who doesn’t think his manliness is compromised or ruined if he’s gender-defiant or gender-nonconforming. Gender expression is a spectrum, not a collection of mandated stereotypes. Since I’m so tomboyish and not very stereotypically girly in most regards, I’ve always preferred men who are similarly very in touch with their feminine side.
Rudy was also said to be a great cook, and his spaghetti in particular was awesome.
Rudy was a fantastic actor, even in mediocre or unrepresentative films. He threw himself into his roles, and became these characters.
He deeply respected the Arab people and refused to villify them because they had darker skin, a different religion, and lived in a different part of the globe.
He was very sensitive, with a beautiful soul, a genuinely nice person. In spite of being unafraid to be gentle and tender, he also acted in some more stereotypically “masculine” roles.
He didn’t want to be pigeonholed, and sought a variety of roles.
He knew how to make a scene erotic through body language and suggestion, in the era of “less is more.” The wedding-night scene in Blood and Sand is unbelievably erotic, all because of his body language.
In spite of his patriarchal views, he married a strong, independent woman. There are stunning parallels between Natacha Rambova and Yoko Ono. Most people either love or hate these women, with scant middle ground!
I wish more actors these days were such class acts. Rudy is my gold standard of what I’m looking for in a man, both physically and in terms of personal qualities. Perhaps someday this sheba will find her sheik.