apolla: (Default)
It has been some weeks now, since my grandfather died. Months, actually. April, May, June, July makes four. Add another two to that for hospitalisation and the hospice, we may accept six months of being on my own.

The being on my own is OK. I actually like it, being one of those people who exists outside the natural order of the world, being an Oracle and therefore destined to observe and comment upon the world rather than being a true part of it.

I have been bugged for some time about getting everything sorted out, and for two months I refused because as long as there was even the shadow of a maybe of a possibility of him coming home, it would remain his home as he remembered it. Since then, I've stalled for various reasons. Mostly because I just couldn't be bothered.

Today, I cleared out the bathroom cabinet. It's not something I ever used, because I kept all my stuff out of his way. I found denture cleaning stuff, practically -

And now there's an old Poirot on, and some bird is singing the Kashmiri Love Song, which is featured in The Sheik, which is the last 'new' motion picture Granddad and I watched together... The first time I saw Valentino and therefore the moment I fell in love with Valentino. The song Rudy sang himself, the one shard of his voice that remains for those of us who came along far too late. The woman in question is a better singer that Rodolfo (ie, she can actually sing) but it means nothing to me. For all the can't-sing, it's still dearest Valentino. If I close my eyes, I can picture perfectly the moment I first saw him on screen, sitting, crosslegged in the sand, cigarette in hand and deciding fates. There he remains, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Russian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Spanish and even once English. Sometimes a terrible man, sometimes an excellent one, sometimes just not all bad... but always Valentino, with his lazy-eyed, entrancing stare and the look in his eyes that says "Don't take it all too seriously, because I'm not" and reminds me of Errol Flynn. I was too late for him, too.

Anyway, back to whatever. I found a complete, never used Givenchy Men toiletry set that he didn't seem to have ever wanted and some Imperial Leather soap. I found silly little things that were somehow meaningful simply by being his. Most everything has been thrown away, of course, and I feel emptier for it.

One day, I shall open my eyes, and nothing in this flat will really be of him anymore. I suppose it's how it should be, and a memory of his smile or the remembrance of a trip to Fortune Street Park will be all that remains. I know it's the way the world works, but these days if I ask someone 'all right?' they answer 'yes' or 'no' or 'meh'. Nobody has answered 'half left' for so long, and I yearn for it, I suppose.

I have always been too late. I have always felt like I am trying to catch up. Whether it's to catch up to the much-mentioned Morrison, or Philip, or even catch up as far as Valentino and Flynn, it does not seem right that here I sit now, in 'this day and age' when I should be in their day and age. I should be with Rudolph, older then than my own grandfather, or with Jimmy, thirty years older than I am. Perhaps I'd hate it, perhaps I'd love it. Maybe I wouldn't last thirty seconds in the past (a foreign country, you know) with my modern ideas and expectations... or perhaps it would be home.

Of course, it's all very well to yearn for a foreign country. You can always go to a foreign country, especially if Ryanair fly there. The past is locked off to me, always and forever. I can no more go back to the past than I could perform self-brain surgery.

Still, it would be nice to see my granddad as he once was, a handsome, tall young man with a grin. To see him with my grandmother before life took its toll on her.

And it turns out I've just paid fifty-six pounds I can't really afford for a harp. A harp. Can I play the harp? No. Still, as Philip said, it's only money.
apolla: (Default)
It has been some weeks now, since my grandfather died. Months, actually. April, May, June, July makes four. Add another two to that for hospitalisation and the hospice, we may accept six months of being on my own.

The being on my own is OK. I actually like it, being one of those people who exists outside the natural order of the world, being an Oracle and therefore destined to observe and comment upon the world rather than being a true part of it.

I have been bugged for some time about getting everything sorted out, and for two months I refused because as long as there was even the shadow of a maybe of a possibility of him coming home, it would remain his home as he remembered it. Since then, I've stalled for various reasons. Mostly because I just couldn't be bothered.

Today, I cleared out the bathroom cabinet. It's not something I ever used, because I kept all my stuff out of his way. I found denture cleaning stuff, practically -

And now there's an old Poirot on, and some bird is singing the Kashmiri Love Song, which is featured in The Sheik, which is the last 'new' motion picture Granddad and I watched together... The first time I saw Valentino and therefore the moment I fell in love with Valentino. The song Rudy sang himself, the one shard of his voice that remains for those of us who came along far too late. The woman in question is a better singer that Rodolfo (ie, she can actually sing) but it means nothing to me. For all the can't-sing, it's still dearest Valentino. If I close my eyes, I can picture perfectly the moment I first saw him on screen, sitting, crosslegged in the sand, cigarette in hand and deciding fates. There he remains, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Russian, sometimes Italian, sometimes Spanish and even once English. Sometimes a terrible man, sometimes an excellent one, sometimes just not all bad... but always Valentino, with his lazy-eyed, entrancing stare and the look in his eyes that says "Don't take it all too seriously, because I'm not" and reminds me of Errol Flynn. I was too late for him, too.

Anyway, back to whatever. I found a complete, never used Givenchy Men toiletry set that he didn't seem to have ever wanted and some Imperial Leather soap. I found silly little things that were somehow meaningful simply by being his. Most everything has been thrown away, of course, and I feel emptier for it.

One day, I shall open my eyes, and nothing in this flat will really be of him anymore. I suppose it's how it should be, and a memory of his smile or the remembrance of a trip to Fortune Street Park will be all that remains. I know it's the way the world works, but these days if I ask someone 'all right?' they answer 'yes' or 'no' or 'meh'. Nobody has answered 'half left' for so long, and I yearn for it, I suppose.

I have always been too late. I have always felt like I am trying to catch up. Whether it's to catch up to the much-mentioned Morrison, or Philip, or even catch up as far as Valentino and Flynn, it does not seem right that here I sit now, in 'this day and age' when I should be in their day and age. I should be with Rudolph, older then than my own grandfather, or with Jimmy, thirty years older than I am. Perhaps I'd hate it, perhaps I'd love it. Maybe I wouldn't last thirty seconds in the past (a foreign country, you know) with my modern ideas and expectations... or perhaps it would be home.

Of course, it's all very well to yearn for a foreign country. You can always go to a foreign country, especially if Ryanair fly there. The past is locked off to me, always and forever. I can no more go back to the past than I could perform self-brain surgery.

Still, it would be nice to see my granddad as he once was, a handsome, tall young man with a grin. To see him with my grandmother before life took its toll on her.

And it turns out I've just paid fifty-six pounds I can't really afford for a harp. A harp. Can I play the harp? No. Still, as Philip said, it's only money.
apolla: (OTP)

Well now......

 


The Valentino Test

One of the things I really hate, really hate, is the way people find out how old I am (they always assume I’m younger than I am) and then start asking about – whisper quietly – boys. I had it yesterday from a little old lady who knew my grandfather. I get it every so often from other people, and even my own mother, who has been so gloriously mute on the subject, has begun the ‘growing up’ remarks.

She means more around the need to grasp the basics of council tax, finances and everything else, but I know there’s something else underneath it.

I might as well make it clear that I’m twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend. That statement means everything else too.  There seems to be a curious sense of shame or humiliation attached to such things these days, as if it makes me some kind of freak.

Well, I am a bit freakydinks, but not really because of that. The reason I’m a freak lies not in the fact, but the reasons behind it.

Let me be clear: I am twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend, and if you think I’m going to apologise for that, or feel ashamed or in any way less than the rest of the world, think again.

*

Rudolph Valentino really screwed me up, you know.

Actually, that’s not the whole story either. I suppose I need to go back twenty years or more. Back to a time when I could sit in front of a TV and watch old motion pictures starring people who filled with screen with something I didn’t always entirely understand.

I saw the film A Night To Remember many times, and Kenneth More is still the idea of a Proper Englishman in my mind. I saw Cinderella many times, and so it’s still the idea of Happy Ever After I have caught in the back of my memory. I saw many films many times over, and when I was grown up a bit more, I was shaped by them. I was shaped by them as a sculptor moulds clay or a child squishes Play-Doh. My days for twenty-five years have been filled with great and wonderful people – beautiful people – and fairytales.

There’s been the music too, made by handsome men touched with divine greatness, whose music saved me from myself, from the darker pits of my soul and from the evils in the outside world.

So I lived on for twenty-five years, surrounding myself with the beautiful and great people, people who only turn up once or twice in a generation and the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

It hasn’t been a bad life, and it’s certainly been an entertaining one. There’s one problem: as much as these things saved me in one way or another, I suppose it’s also hamstrung me. It’s kept me from seeing other people, real people, as perhaps other people do. It’s stopped me for settling for anything less than brilliance and perfection.

This particular state of affairs would be OK if the world was filled with brilliant and wondrous people, but it isn’t. You want to know why in a quarter-century I haven’t had a boyfriend or even a date? It’s easy: there’s nobody good enough for me.

It sounds arrogant, and perhaps it is. It sounds conceited, but I don’t quite mean it to. I suppose it’s this: If I have Valentino, who could possibly compare?

Thus: The Valentino Test and how it’s probably screwed me for life.

*

Rudy can’t take full blame of course, for it was only back this February that I finally understood the point of Valentino. I suppose we must therefore go back, far back to a time when I listened to my dad’s Buddy Holly records, when Elvis Parsley was my favourite punch line and when I had a vague recollection of a fellow in grey tights and a blond fright wig. Still, it’s something that is articulated best through Signor Valentino, because he’s the one who brought it into starkest and clearest relief.

For days after seeing The Sheik and then after The Eagle and Blood and Sand, I looked at every single man I saw, on the street, on the tube and everywhere else and thought to myself: “Not exactly Valentino, is he?”

For years before that, I’d been doing it and not really thinking about it. When you surround yourself with greatness, the rest of the world becomes less interesting. I hadn’t even really noticed myself doing it.

The Valentino Test only requires that the entrant compare favourably to Rudolph Valentino. Being alive is the easy part... but is the entrant beautiful? Is he charming? Is he capable of setting a heart a-flutter? I tried to think, and I suppose maybe 0.0001% of 1% of the world’s population pass the Valentino Test.

As if that weren’t enough, if one is lucky enough to pass this test, it’s not the end of it. For as long as I’ve got Jim Morrison, one must also pass the Morrison Test. Is the entrant cool? Is he thoughtful, challenging, and fearless? Is he capable of Apollonian lightness as well as Dionysian darkness? Slice that 0.0001% of 1% down some more.

Then there’s the Lynott Test, which involves poetry, storytelling and Dennis the Menace charm and charisma. It involves somehow being tough and yet not tough at all. It involves being able to hold thousands of people in the palm of your hand at the same time and making it look effortless. The percentage gets smaller still.

I’m a fairly cynical character, so I find it hard to consider the possibility anyone has got this far... and there’s more to come yet.

You’ve passed the Valentino Test, the Morrison Test and the Lynott Test. Can you, however, pass the Flynn Test? Are you the most beautiful man ever to walk the face of the earth, exuding a special kind of allure that would cause a person to forgive pretty much anything? Can you charm birds from trees? Can you fight the entire Spanish fleet with naught but a grin and a sword?

I haven’t even mentioned Robert Plant, who is the sex in rock and roll wrapped up in hair and jeans. Lest I forget, there’s George Harrison and John Lennon, who are my consciences. Then again, I left out Dean Martin, who is the soft centre of my heart.  Then again, there are people like David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, James Dean and Marlon Brando, who bring joy to my life without needing to be loved.

Eagle-eyed and intelligent readers might notice that I have yet to mention anyone current or contemporary or alive. Whatever, OK? These are the people who have brought me something approaching happiness and contentment through their work. I’m not unaware that people being dead makes it easier to tolerate them. That much of that work was done some years ago (or in the case of Valentino, about eighty-five years ago) is irrelevant to me because it’s still interesting and entertaining.

The fact is, I judge the world by their standards. I judge you by their standards, and yes, I find you wanting.

Take heart, I compare myself to Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn and Julie London. If you think I’m harsh towards you, imagine how terrifically below my own standards I fall, being neither beautiful nor particularly brilliant.

But you’re still not good enough for me.

*

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, it likely means that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. That’s OK. It’s of my own making, and all I particularly ask is that I be master of my own destiny. You may think it pathetic or freaky, but I have made my own choices and I’m squared with that.

Perhaps there is someone out there in the wide world who is good enough. The chances of him thinking the same as regards me are pretty slim, but I’m not fussed.

You never know, the irony might be that The Mythical One might not pass the Valentino Test so much as cast it aside without so much as a glance.

Stranger things have happened.

apolla: (OTP)

Well now......

 


The Valentino Test

One of the things I really hate, really hate, is the way people find out how old I am (they always assume I’m younger than I am) and then start asking about – whisper quietly – boys. I had it yesterday from a little old lady who knew my grandfather. I get it every so often from other people, and even my own mother, who has been so gloriously mute on the subject, has begun the ‘growing up’ remarks.

She means more around the need to grasp the basics of council tax, finances and everything else, but I know there’s something else underneath it.

I might as well make it clear that I’m twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend. That statement means everything else too.  There seems to be a curious sense of shame or humiliation attached to such things these days, as if it makes me some kind of freak.

Well, I am a bit freakydinks, but not really because of that. The reason I’m a freak lies not in the fact, but the reasons behind it.

Let me be clear: I am twenty-five years old and have never had a boyfriend, and if you think I’m going to apologise for that, or feel ashamed or in any way less than the rest of the world, think again.

*

Rudolph Valentino really screwed me up, you know.

Actually, that’s not the whole story either. I suppose I need to go back twenty years or more. Back to a time when I could sit in front of a TV and watch old motion pictures starring people who filled with screen with something I didn’t always entirely understand.

I saw the film A Night To Remember many times, and Kenneth More is still the idea of a Proper Englishman in my mind. I saw Cinderella many times, and so it’s still the idea of Happy Ever After I have caught in the back of my memory. I saw many films many times over, and when I was grown up a bit more, I was shaped by them. I was shaped by them as a sculptor moulds clay or a child squishes Play-Doh. My days for twenty-five years have been filled with great and wonderful people – beautiful people – and fairytales.

There’s been the music too, made by handsome men touched with divine greatness, whose music saved me from myself, from the darker pits of my soul and from the evils in the outside world.

So I lived on for twenty-five years, surrounding myself with the beautiful and great people, people who only turn up once or twice in a generation and the likes of whom we’ll never see again.

It hasn’t been a bad life, and it’s certainly been an entertaining one. There’s one problem: as much as these things saved me in one way or another, I suppose it’s also hamstrung me. It’s kept me from seeing other people, real people, as perhaps other people do. It’s stopped me for settling for anything less than brilliance and perfection.

This particular state of affairs would be OK if the world was filled with brilliant and wondrous people, but it isn’t. You want to know why in a quarter-century I haven’t had a boyfriend or even a date? It’s easy: there’s nobody good enough for me.

It sounds arrogant, and perhaps it is. It sounds conceited, but I don’t quite mean it to. I suppose it’s this: If I have Valentino, who could possibly compare?

Thus: The Valentino Test and how it’s probably screwed me for life.

*

Rudy can’t take full blame of course, for it was only back this February that I finally understood the point of Valentino. I suppose we must therefore go back, far back to a time when I listened to my dad’s Buddy Holly records, when Elvis Parsley was my favourite punch line and when I had a vague recollection of a fellow in grey tights and a blond fright wig. Still, it’s something that is articulated best through Signor Valentino, because he’s the one who brought it into starkest and clearest relief.

For days after seeing The Sheik and then after The Eagle and Blood and Sand, I looked at every single man I saw, on the street, on the tube and everywhere else and thought to myself: “Not exactly Valentino, is he?”

For years before that, I’d been doing it and not really thinking about it. When you surround yourself with greatness, the rest of the world becomes less interesting. I hadn’t even really noticed myself doing it.

The Valentino Test only requires that the entrant compare favourably to Rudolph Valentino. Being alive is the easy part... but is the entrant beautiful? Is he charming? Is he capable of setting a heart a-flutter? I tried to think, and I suppose maybe 0.0001% of 1% of the world’s population pass the Valentino Test.

As if that weren’t enough, if one is lucky enough to pass this test, it’s not the end of it. For as long as I’ve got Jim Morrison, one must also pass the Morrison Test. Is the entrant cool? Is he thoughtful, challenging, and fearless? Is he capable of Apollonian lightness as well as Dionysian darkness? Slice that 0.0001% of 1% down some more.

Then there’s the Lynott Test, which involves poetry, storytelling and Dennis the Menace charm and charisma. It involves somehow being tough and yet not tough at all. It involves being able to hold thousands of people in the palm of your hand at the same time and making it look effortless. The percentage gets smaller still.

I’m a fairly cynical character, so I find it hard to consider the possibility anyone has got this far... and there’s more to come yet.

You’ve passed the Valentino Test, the Morrison Test and the Lynott Test. Can you, however, pass the Flynn Test? Are you the most beautiful man ever to walk the face of the earth, exuding a special kind of allure that would cause a person to forgive pretty much anything? Can you charm birds from trees? Can you fight the entire Spanish fleet with naught but a grin and a sword?

I haven’t even mentioned Robert Plant, who is the sex in rock and roll wrapped up in hair and jeans. Lest I forget, there’s George Harrison and John Lennon, who are my consciences. Then again, I left out Dean Martin, who is the soft centre of my heart.  Then again, there are people like David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Gregory Peck, James Dean and Marlon Brando, who bring joy to my life without needing to be loved.

Eagle-eyed and intelligent readers might notice that I have yet to mention anyone current or contemporary or alive. Whatever, OK? These are the people who have brought me something approaching happiness and contentment through their work. I’m not unaware that people being dead makes it easier to tolerate them. That much of that work was done some years ago (or in the case of Valentino, about eighty-five years ago) is irrelevant to me because it’s still interesting and entertaining.

The fact is, I judge the world by their standards. I judge you by their standards, and yes, I find you wanting.

Take heart, I compare myself to Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn and Julie London. If you think I’m harsh towards you, imagine how terrifically below my own standards I fall, being neither beautiful nor particularly brilliant.

But you’re still not good enough for me.

*

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, it likely means that I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. That’s OK. It’s of my own making, and all I particularly ask is that I be master of my own destiny. You may think it pathetic or freaky, but I have made my own choices and I’m squared with that.

Perhaps there is someone out there in the wide world who is good enough. The chances of him thinking the same as regards me are pretty slim, but I’m not fussed.

You never know, the irony might be that The Mythical One might not pass the Valentino Test so much as cast it aside without so much as a glance.

Stranger things have happened.

apolla: (OTP)

One of the things I do when I become fixated on something is to write about it. I suppose the theory goes that if I just write and write and write and write, I might in some way get it out of my system. It rarely works, but I don't stop trying, just in case.

In the latest case, I've been using my shiny new computer (not this one, long story) to begin composing a long old post about Rudolph Valentino. It made reference to the old 'we had faces then' Norma Desmond chestnut, and to a number of ultimately pointless things.

However, that hasn't stopped this post beginning, and it won't stop it continuing. I finally acquired Son of the Sheik on VHS video tape, which made it feel very 20th Century indeed, and in a number of ways, it shone a few lights upon the subject.

First and most important, it turns out he's already joined the list of People Who Can Do No Wrong In My Eyes and Probably Don't Deserve Such An Accolade But They're Dead So Does It Really matter? The lofty list includes Jim Morrison (see: Certainly Doesn't Deserve), Philip Lynott, Dean Martin, Errol Flynn, Ronnie Barker, Richard Burton, George Harrison (latest nugget: went a-wife-swapping with Ronnie Wood), John Lennon, Robert Plant (not dead, but Can Do No Wrong Except Steal Off Steve Marriott), Steve Marriott, Ava Gardner, Bobby Kennedy and probably some other people I can't think of because I haven't had a decent night's sleep in weeks.

Where was I? Yes, Valentino. In less than a month, a man who's been dead since the same year one of my grandmothers was born has leapfrogged his way onto a list that other people can't even get near. Do you know how long it took Philip to get onto the list? It actually took him years to get onto The List, but that's cos I was distracted by Zeppelin. It's gotta be about a decade since the list first got formulated in my head, and there's nobody on it who slid their way in so bloody quickly or effortlessly as Valentino.

Know how I know he's on the list? I heard the song he recorded, Kashmiri Love Song, which he 'sings' in The Sheik. At first it reminded me of the recordings of the great Enrico Caruso, and then I realised it only had the primitive, poor recording in common. Valentino's voice was not unpleasant and I'm sure as a speaking voice it was lovely to listen to... but the man could not sing. I mean, if he were to go on X-Factor or whatever, he'd be the guy being laughed at. Maybe with lessons... but probably not. He might have transitioned to sound movies, but not to musicals. And yet, there he is, On The List. Look at those names and look at what they did. Bobby Kennedy wasn't a singer but he was a very good orator. Ava Gardner's voice was silky and she could sing (though pointlessly dubbed in Showboat). I'd listen to Richard Burton read out the Port Talbot phone directory. Errol Flynn's voice was part of his charm. The rest? Fucking singers. Great ones. For me to admit a non-singer onto The List is strange indeed- to admit a bad one is unprecedented and I'm not over the shock.

Oh yeah, and in Son of the Sheik, he rapes Vilma Banky. I mean, it's not shown, but it couldn't be implied more heavily if you saw clothes get ripped off. Not only does he rape the heroine, he gets away with it, gets the girl and lives happily ever after. I mean sure, he just got tortured and thinks she was part of the gang who did it, but still... Rape is rape, man! And you know what, there I was in spite of it, willing him on, willing him towards his happy ending. Sure, haven't I watched it another four times so far?

Only someone on The List gets that kind of treatment. Almost anyone else in that film would've been screeched at and if not turned off, never watched again. Yet here I am, writing a post about it, about him. Of course, there's a way of getting round it: "It's the character, not the real man!"

Which would be nice and easy, but I'm not so far gone as to realise something very important: It's the idea of Valentino, the dream of Valentino, that matters. And the idea is derived more from the motion pictures than the man himself. I suspect that Valentino and 'Rudy' were two different creatures, unable to exist without the other, but quite separate just the same. After all, the Sheik would never allow Natacha Rambova to shove a slave bracelet around his wrist. Actually, I very much doubt that Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan would allow the self-serving, self-created Rambova much of anything.

So you see, the rape scene does matter, because it's the idea that's important. At first, my idea of Valentino was just of another silent star, a relic of a bygone age that I was glad to be over. Then I saw The Sheik and discovered that the idea was something of its own. The Eagle and Blood and Sand added more to the idea, just like Cobra, which I'm still in the process of watching on YouTube (trust me, if I could get it on DVD, I would). I have bought books about Valentino, but have not read them yet- the idea of Valentino is based only on the movies. So therefore to have Valentino remain on The List even after the rape scene is somewhat worrying...

It's a good film by the way. It shows just how far Valentino had come in the five years between the eye-popping histrionic Sheik to this one. He plays, after all, the old Sheik and the son, and in split screen! I LOVE the fact that they got split screen technology working (and quite well too) before they managed sound! There's TWO Valentinos for the price of one on the screen at the same time. And you know what? He'd got good enough as an actor to understand how to play the two different. The old Sheik is all quiet, confident dignity now, complete with a little beard and some ageing make-up, while the son is all coiled up boyish aggression. From that point of view it really is a wonder to behold, to see this man go from being essentially just very charismatic and beautiful to really quite good. It's that which makes me think he might've made it in sound pictures after all...

Then again, I wonder if we weren't given Valentino on the understanding he wouldn't speak? That if God Himself is bountiful, He's also a bit stingy. That we were given Valentino to fall in love with, but that it couldn't ever be complete. Perhaps it would be more than mere womanhood could handle. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

By the way, if I were involved in his career, I would've had him in elocution lessons. Sound didn't come out of nowhere, no matter what the legends say. It wasn't an overnight thing- there were movies being shown with sort of semi-sound gimmicks in his lifetime. I would've put him in elocution lessons, in singing lessons, in acting lessons, knowing that the minute sound comes in, the acting changes. It had to. Still, it's bitterly obvious to me that such a course is not open to me, so whatever dude.

My next point is about to insult several generations of half of America, but I don't care: American men are so terrifically insecure about sexuality and masculinity, aren't they? They were back then, they are today and they were in between. The chasm between what American men consider masculine and what women consider masculine couldn't be breached by the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, I'm not unaware of why someone like Valentino would be tagged with the homosexuality card- marrying a card-carrying lesbian would do that, being well-groomed, handsome and charming would make it worse... but America is also the country where Clark Gable had to go off on a publicised hunting trip or six to look more manly for audiences. CLARK GABLE!  Quite aside from anyone's own personal sexuality, CLARK GABLE? That man was 99% testosterone and 1% scotch whiskey! Guys, guys, guys: instead of mocking the Valentinos, why not pause and take a look to see why we adore them so much? 

I get that people were caught unaware by Cary Grant (and ergo Randolph Scott) and Rock Hudson, but honestly. Aside from the fact it doesn't really matter.... it always says more about the people accusing that the accused. Rudolph Valentino might have been as gay as the day is long, he might have been bisexual, he might have done any number of things. I don't care, personally. The point is, it's the idea of Valentino that scared America's manhood, and it's because the idea is, as far as I can tell, masculine enough to stop a generation of women in its tracks. It wasn't that they believed him effeminate (ie, he washed more than once a week, combed his hair, wore clean clothes that fit and didn't spend his time cleaning, er, rifles), it was that the stupid fools were jealous. So they should've been. Just because they believed a woman's ideal man should be an athletic, all-American huntin', fishin' tobacco-chewin' Howard Keel cowboy cariacture, does not mean that women agreed with them. Oh, and it's just an eensy weensy bit racist, but if I delve into that, this post gets even longer.

Me? I'm not in love with Rudolph Valentino. I adore the dream of Valentino, the idea. I think he was beautiful and shouldn't have died so young. I think his second wife should've been told to sod off before they got so far as Mexicali, and at least been told that feminism doesn't equate dominance or emasculation, but things were very different then and I certainly don't know the whole story, even if slave bracelets say a thousand words. I don't think anyone's come close in terms of equalling what he had on screen, but then again, he was the first. Nobody had to do it the same. There's a thousand male movie stars now for us to choose from to fall in love with, all different shapes, sizes, colours, types, flavours, whatever. None of them could exist in the same way without Valentino, for he was the first movie star one could fall in love with. Before, what was there? Nobody could accuse Douglas Fairbanks of being a heartthrob, nor Chaplin, Keaton or Fatty Arbuckle. Think of the last movie star you had yourself a crush on, and thank whichever deity you choose that Valentino lived to put romance and sex into the movies.

Yes, I adore the idea of Valentino and for better or for worse, all male creatures are now subject to the Valentino Test in my eyes. Most will come up severely lacking, but you know, that's only the reaction they'd have got two months ago, but now it has a name. It feels as if a veil has either fallen or been lifted, but I see them all in a different way now. Not necessarily a bad new light, but a different one. For me now, they must all stand up next to Valentino. Some can do so quite easily- someone like Errol Flynn bypasses the Test, but he couldn't have existed without Valentino... Has anyone in the 21st Century passed the test? We wait with baited breath, no doubt.... And no doubt this won't be the last time you see that name here.

apolla: (OTP)

One of the things I do when I become fixated on something is to write about it. I suppose the theory goes that if I just write and write and write and write, I might in some way get it out of my system. It rarely works, but I don't stop trying, just in case.

In the latest case, I've been using my shiny new computer (not this one, long story) to begin composing a long old post about Rudolph Valentino. It made reference to the old 'we had faces then' Norma Desmond chestnut, and to a number of ultimately pointless things.

However, that hasn't stopped this post beginning, and it won't stop it continuing. I finally acquired Son of the Sheik on VHS video tape, which made it feel very 20th Century indeed, and in a number of ways, it shone a few lights upon the subject.

First and most important, it turns out he's already joined the list of People Who Can Do No Wrong In My Eyes and Probably Don't Deserve Such An Accolade But They're Dead So Does It Really matter? The lofty list includes Jim Morrison (see: Certainly Doesn't Deserve), Philip Lynott, Dean Martin, Errol Flynn, Ronnie Barker, Richard Burton, George Harrison (latest nugget: went a-wife-swapping with Ronnie Wood), John Lennon, Robert Plant (not dead, but Can Do No Wrong Except Steal Off Steve Marriott), Steve Marriott, Ava Gardner, Bobby Kennedy and probably some other people I can't think of because I haven't had a decent night's sleep in weeks.

Where was I? Yes, Valentino. In less than a month, a man who's been dead since the same year one of my grandmothers was born has leapfrogged his way onto a list that other people can't even get near. Do you know how long it took Philip to get onto the list? It actually took him years to get onto The List, but that's cos I was distracted by Zeppelin. It's gotta be about a decade since the list first got formulated in my head, and there's nobody on it who slid their way in so bloody quickly or effortlessly as Valentino.

Know how I know he's on the list? I heard the song he recorded, Kashmiri Love Song, which he 'sings' in The Sheik. At first it reminded me of the recordings of the great Enrico Caruso, and then I realised it only had the primitive, poor recording in common. Valentino's voice was not unpleasant and I'm sure as a speaking voice it was lovely to listen to... but the man could not sing. I mean, if he were to go on X-Factor or whatever, he'd be the guy being laughed at. Maybe with lessons... but probably not. He might have transitioned to sound movies, but not to musicals. And yet, there he is, On The List. Look at those names and look at what they did. Bobby Kennedy wasn't a singer but he was a very good orator. Ava Gardner's voice was silky and she could sing (though pointlessly dubbed in Showboat). I'd listen to Richard Burton read out the Port Talbot phone directory. Errol Flynn's voice was part of his charm. The rest? Fucking singers. Great ones. For me to admit a non-singer onto The List is strange indeed- to admit a bad one is unprecedented and I'm not over the shock.

Oh yeah, and in Son of the Sheik, he rapes Vilma Banky. I mean, it's not shown, but it couldn't be implied more heavily if you saw clothes get ripped off. Not only does he rape the heroine, he gets away with it, gets the girl and lives happily ever after. I mean sure, he just got tortured and thinks she was part of the gang who did it, but still... Rape is rape, man! And you know what, there I was in spite of it, willing him on, willing him towards his happy ending. Sure, haven't I watched it another four times so far?

Only someone on The List gets that kind of treatment. Almost anyone else in that film would've been screeched at and if not turned off, never watched again. Yet here I am, writing a post about it, about him. Of course, there's a way of getting round it: "It's the character, not the real man!"

Which would be nice and easy, but I'm not so far gone as to realise something very important: It's the idea of Valentino, the dream of Valentino, that matters. And the idea is derived more from the motion pictures than the man himself. I suspect that Valentino and 'Rudy' were two different creatures, unable to exist without the other, but quite separate just the same. After all, the Sheik would never allow Natacha Rambova to shove a slave bracelet around his wrist. Actually, I very much doubt that Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan would allow the self-serving, self-created Rambova much of anything.

So you see, the rape scene does matter, because it's the idea that's important. At first, my idea of Valentino was just of another silent star, a relic of a bygone age that I was glad to be over. Then I saw The Sheik and discovered that the idea was something of its own. The Eagle and Blood and Sand added more to the idea, just like Cobra, which I'm still in the process of watching on YouTube (trust me, if I could get it on DVD, I would). I have bought books about Valentino, but have not read them yet- the idea of Valentino is based only on the movies. So therefore to have Valentino remain on The List even after the rape scene is somewhat worrying...

It's a good film by the way. It shows just how far Valentino had come in the five years between the eye-popping histrionic Sheik to this one. He plays, after all, the old Sheik and the son, and in split screen! I LOVE the fact that they got split screen technology working (and quite well too) before they managed sound! There's TWO Valentinos for the price of one on the screen at the same time. And you know what? He'd got good enough as an actor to understand how to play the two different. The old Sheik is all quiet, confident dignity now, complete with a little beard and some ageing make-up, while the son is all coiled up boyish aggression. From that point of view it really is a wonder to behold, to see this man go from being essentially just very charismatic and beautiful to really quite good. It's that which makes me think he might've made it in sound pictures after all...

Then again, I wonder if we weren't given Valentino on the understanding he wouldn't speak? That if God Himself is bountiful, He's also a bit stingy. That we were given Valentino to fall in love with, but that it couldn't ever be complete. Perhaps it would be more than mere womanhood could handle. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

By the way, if I were involved in his career, I would've had him in elocution lessons. Sound didn't come out of nowhere, no matter what the legends say. It wasn't an overnight thing- there were movies being shown with sort of semi-sound gimmicks in his lifetime. I would've put him in elocution lessons, in singing lessons, in acting lessons, knowing that the minute sound comes in, the acting changes. It had to. Still, it's bitterly obvious to me that such a course is not open to me, so whatever dude.

My next point is about to insult several generations of half of America, but I don't care: American men are so terrifically insecure about sexuality and masculinity, aren't they? They were back then, they are today and they were in between. The chasm between what American men consider masculine and what women consider masculine couldn't be breached by the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, I'm not unaware of why someone like Valentino would be tagged with the homosexuality card- marrying a card-carrying lesbian would do that, being well-groomed, handsome and charming would make it worse... but America is also the country where Clark Gable had to go off on a publicised hunting trip or six to look more manly for audiences. CLARK GABLE!  Quite aside from anyone's own personal sexuality, CLARK GABLE? That man was 99% testosterone and 1% scotch whiskey! Guys, guys, guys: instead of mocking the Valentinos, why not pause and take a look to see why we adore them so much? 

I get that people were caught unaware by Cary Grant (and ergo Randolph Scott) and Rock Hudson, but honestly. Aside from the fact it doesn't really matter.... it always says more about the people accusing that the accused. Rudolph Valentino might have been as gay as the day is long, he might have been bisexual, he might have done any number of things. I don't care, personally. The point is, it's the idea of Valentino that scared America's manhood, and it's because the idea is, as far as I can tell, masculine enough to stop a generation of women in its tracks. It wasn't that they believed him effeminate (ie, he washed more than once a week, combed his hair, wore clean clothes that fit and didn't spend his time cleaning, er, rifles), it was that the stupid fools were jealous. So they should've been. Just because they believed a woman's ideal man should be an athletic, all-American huntin', fishin' tobacco-chewin' Howard Keel cowboy cariacture, does not mean that women agreed with them. Oh, and it's just an eensy weensy bit racist, but if I delve into that, this post gets even longer.

Me? I'm not in love with Rudolph Valentino. I adore the dream of Valentino, the idea. I think he was beautiful and shouldn't have died so young. I think his second wife should've been told to sod off before they got so far as Mexicali, and at least been told that feminism doesn't equate dominance or emasculation, but things were very different then and I certainly don't know the whole story, even if slave bracelets say a thousand words. I don't think anyone's come close in terms of equalling what he had on screen, but then again, he was the first. Nobody had to do it the same. There's a thousand male movie stars now for us to choose from to fall in love with, all different shapes, sizes, colours, types, flavours, whatever. None of them could exist in the same way without Valentino, for he was the first movie star one could fall in love with. Before, what was there? Nobody could accuse Douglas Fairbanks of being a heartthrob, nor Chaplin, Keaton or Fatty Arbuckle. Think of the last movie star you had yourself a crush on, and thank whichever deity you choose that Valentino lived to put romance and sex into the movies.

Yes, I adore the idea of Valentino and for better or for worse, all male creatures are now subject to the Valentino Test in my eyes. Most will come up severely lacking, but you know, that's only the reaction they'd have got two months ago, but now it has a name. It feels as if a veil has either fallen or been lifted, but I see them all in a different way now. Not necessarily a bad new light, but a different one. For me now, they must all stand up next to Valentino. Some can do so quite easily- someone like Errol Flynn bypasses the Test, but he couldn't have existed without Valentino... Has anyone in the 21st Century passed the test? We wait with baited breath, no doubt.... And no doubt this won't be the last time you see that name here.

apolla: (Queen Maeve)
The granddad remains in hospital. There's so many things wrong that personally I just want them to get him home so he can die here and not in some heartless, horrible ward in a heartless, horrible hospital.

While discussing The Departed  and watching The West Wing with my dad, he made the following remark: "Martin Sheen has nice hair. I've always said so. He always wears it very well." This remark would be particularly odd, except that my dad has never had exceptional hair. While his sister still has this great bush of dark curly hair, his is curly but has been thin and bare since I've known him. Still, it was a weird conversation to have. I miss The West Wing, by the way. Somehow, I miss it more than I miss Friends, perhaps because for all Friends' brilliance, it was confection. The West Wing on the other hand, was the greatest TV drama ever made, by anyone anywhere any time. There was just a show on Channel 4 which voted it something like third or fourth, but I know the truth. It is better than The Boys From the Black Stuff (number two) and The Sopranos (number one). You know why? Because more than anything else I've ever seen on TV, The West Wing has given me a way to understand my own thoughts and it has given me hope that there are some people on both sides who care passionately about giving the rest of us a better life. There's no price on that.

I've finally bought a new computer and Alienware (recced by my brother- anyone know anything either way about these folks?) are building it as I write (not literally, it's quarter past midnight). It has Vista, so fuck knows which of my programs will work- I don't even know where the disc for my screenwriting program is, although I've not used it in months, so perhaps it's moot.

Actually, it's not moot because I started writing a movie the other day. Now I know what you're thinking, and it probably won't get finished and almost certainly won't see the light of day, let alone get made, but it's either a TV drama (which I'm only thinking cos of the Best TV Dramas thing I was watching just now!) or a movie and it's basically a remake of Camille.

Which leads me very neatly to Valentino. I realised the other day that for all my swooning over The Sheik and the 'my God, I never realised the point about Valentino until now!' nonsense, I've actually had a Valentino movie hanging around for months. Literally months, and I knew it when I bought it. The silent 1921 Alla Nazimova-Rudolph Valentino version of Camille is the special feature on the Greta Garbo-Robert Taylor talking Camille which I have seen and liked... and I knew because it was one of the things that made me finally buy the Garbo boxset when it finally came down from 60/70 quid to a more civilised thirty. I knew and I just didn't pay a second's notice until the other day.

I wrote an introduction to a London based rom-com type thing a few weeks ago after getting so pissed off with the sense in Working Title and its ilk that only rich people can be seen in romcoms, that the only people worth knowing about live in Notting Hill or Hampstead and every fucker goes to Primrose Hill. I've never been to Primrose Hill and I don't intend to. No matter how rich I might one day be, I have no intention of living west of Hyde Park. Hell, I don't anticipate living in W11 or any NW postcode. Just not my scene, you dig? Anyway, I had no actual story to go along with it, but after seeing the Valentino Camille, I think I might.

Anyway... this Valentino fellow has not been out of my head. I awoke this morning to discover my DVDs had not arrived, and I found myself in despair. It's just not right, is it? Many thoughts have come to me since I first saw The Sheik and well, chief amongst them is this: I don't even know what he sounds like. I don't know what his voice was like, whether it was deep or high, whether his Italian accent was particularly thick. I've come to associate it somehow with Mario Lanza, which is ridiculous on a number of levels, but it's what was on my iPod a lot last week and so there I am, listening to Lanza, a once in a century voice, thinking of someone who might have sounded instead like Joe Dolce. Still, as Valentino himself said, he's the canvas upon which I can paint my dreams. I found a link to his recording of the poem used in The Sheik on wikipedia and I haven't brought myself to click it yet.

There's nothing worse than broken dreams, because within them is the lack of hope.

Still, one of the reasons I suppose I've always clung to my dead heroes is that they can no longer disappoint me, nor can they hurt me. That's a theory that sometimes bites me in the arse, but it usually works. I refuse currently to read things about Valentino, which is unusual for me. Usually I try to learn everything I can, but for once, no. It's partly to stop this getting any worse but also because I don't want to be disappointed by another one. Actually, I take back the remark at the start of this paragraph- they can and routinely do disappoint me. I suspect that Valentino has been given to me as a distraction from the reality of my life right now, and I'm not going to spit in the face of that by learning he was whatever he really was.

Anyway, I'm writing stuff these days, but until I get my new computer, pay yet more money for new Office, with this fucked up temporary keyboard I can't really type any of it up to even share with friends let alone anyone who'd get it out there. One day, I might actually get some of these thoughts I have into the public arena. Whether anyone gives a fuck remains to be seen. I hope they do.
apolla: (Queen Maeve)
The granddad remains in hospital. There's so many things wrong that personally I just want them to get him home so he can die here and not in some heartless, horrible ward in a heartless, horrible hospital.

While discussing The Departed  and watching The West Wing with my dad, he made the following remark: "Martin Sheen has nice hair. I've always said so. He always wears it very well." This remark would be particularly odd, except that my dad has never had exceptional hair. While his sister still has this great bush of dark curly hair, his is curly but has been thin and bare since I've known him. Still, it was a weird conversation to have. I miss The West Wing, by the way. Somehow, I miss it more than I miss Friends, perhaps because for all Friends' brilliance, it was confection. The West Wing on the other hand, was the greatest TV drama ever made, by anyone anywhere any time. There was just a show on Channel 4 which voted it something like third or fourth, but I know the truth. It is better than The Boys From the Black Stuff (number two) and The Sopranos (number one). You know why? Because more than anything else I've ever seen on TV, The West Wing has given me a way to understand my own thoughts and it has given me hope that there are some people on both sides who care passionately about giving the rest of us a better life. There's no price on that.

I've finally bought a new computer and Alienware (recced by my brother- anyone know anything either way about these folks?) are building it as I write (not literally, it's quarter past midnight). It has Vista, so fuck knows which of my programs will work- I don't even know where the disc for my screenwriting program is, although I've not used it in months, so perhaps it's moot.

Actually, it's not moot because I started writing a movie the other day. Now I know what you're thinking, and it probably won't get finished and almost certainly won't see the light of day, let alone get made, but it's either a TV drama (which I'm only thinking cos of the Best TV Dramas thing I was watching just now!) or a movie and it's basically a remake of Camille.

Which leads me very neatly to Valentino. I realised the other day that for all my swooning over The Sheik and the 'my God, I never realised the point about Valentino until now!' nonsense, I've actually had a Valentino movie hanging around for months. Literally months, and I knew it when I bought it. The silent 1921 Alla Nazimova-Rudolph Valentino version of Camille is the special feature on the Greta Garbo-Robert Taylor talking Camille which I have seen and liked... and I knew because it was one of the things that made me finally buy the Garbo boxset when it finally came down from 60/70 quid to a more civilised thirty. I knew and I just didn't pay a second's notice until the other day.

I wrote an introduction to a London based rom-com type thing a few weeks ago after getting so pissed off with the sense in Working Title and its ilk that only rich people can be seen in romcoms, that the only people worth knowing about live in Notting Hill or Hampstead and every fucker goes to Primrose Hill. I've never been to Primrose Hill and I don't intend to. No matter how rich I might one day be, I have no intention of living west of Hyde Park. Hell, I don't anticipate living in W11 or any NW postcode. Just not my scene, you dig? Anyway, I had no actual story to go along with it, but after seeing the Valentino Camille, I think I might.

Anyway... this Valentino fellow has not been out of my head. I awoke this morning to discover my DVDs had not arrived, and I found myself in despair. It's just not right, is it? Many thoughts have come to me since I first saw The Sheik and well, chief amongst them is this: I don't even know what he sounds like. I don't know what his voice was like, whether it was deep or high, whether his Italian accent was particularly thick. I've come to associate it somehow with Mario Lanza, which is ridiculous on a number of levels, but it's what was on my iPod a lot last week and so there I am, listening to Lanza, a once in a century voice, thinking of someone who might have sounded instead like Joe Dolce. Still, as Valentino himself said, he's the canvas upon which I can paint my dreams. I found a link to his recording of the poem used in The Sheik on wikipedia and I haven't brought myself to click it yet.

There's nothing worse than broken dreams, because within them is the lack of hope.

Still, one of the reasons I suppose I've always clung to my dead heroes is that they can no longer disappoint me, nor can they hurt me. That's a theory that sometimes bites me in the arse, but it usually works. I refuse currently to read things about Valentino, which is unusual for me. Usually I try to learn everything I can, but for once, no. It's partly to stop this getting any worse but also because I don't want to be disappointed by another one. Actually, I take back the remark at the start of this paragraph- they can and routinely do disappoint me. I suspect that Valentino has been given to me as a distraction from the reality of my life right now, and I'm not going to spit in the face of that by learning he was whatever he really was.

Anyway, I'm writing stuff these days, but until I get my new computer, pay yet more money for new Office, with this fucked up temporary keyboard I can't really type any of it up to even share with friends let alone anyone who'd get it out there. One day, I might actually get some of these thoughts I have into the public arena. Whether anyone gives a fuck remains to be seen. I hope they do.
apolla: (Default)
I have joked in the past that I am probably one of the few people who can say they've been in love with someone older than their grandfather. This is only half true- Errol Flynn has a decade on my granddad, but I'm not actually in love with the quail-hunting old bastard and never have been. Fascinated by, adoring fan, but not in love with. Still, civilians often don't see the difference, so think me a freak if you will.

Today, however, I found myself in the same position as the first time I saw The Adventures of Robin Hood, that is, completely captivated and entranced by someone on screen. It hasn't happened like this for a long old time- not since the Flynn, I suspect. There was was one time between, but that was entirely different. Anyway, today I saw The Sheik starring one Rudolph Valentino. Not only older than my grandfather, but a fellow who was born in the 19th Century and died when my granddad was a mere seven years old. Outdone meself, so I have.

Until this very day, or rather, now yesterday, I had not seen the fuss. I'm a movie geek, so it's not like I'm unaware of the man. Rudolph Valentino, the blueprint latin lover, etc etc, hundred thousand mourners at his funeral, the mysterious lady in black, the most beautiful man, etc etc. I never saw the point. I didn't think he was especially handsome, you know?

I was taking it all out of context. A still photograph is all very well, but it doesn't show you someone's expressions, nor their charisma, nor their way of being unless you already know what they are. To approach Valentino only in terms of still photographs of a fellow in a tuxedo or smothered in Hollywood Arabian dress is, it turns out, to entirely miss the point.

The man was beautiful, it turns out. He was no Flynn, but without Valentino there'd likely be no Errol Flynn. I see better now that Valentino was truly the first person put on screen that it's entirely possible - nay, easy - to fall in love with. Before Rudy V, who was there? Douglas Fairbanks? Chaplin? Tom Mix? All fine in their own ways, but not people to fall in love with. I can see now that on screen, Valentino was luminous and his face was pretty well perfect for the silent days of what is called in Singin in the Rain 'a lot of dumb show'. Well, some of it is pretty well dumb show, but there are moments in The Sheik where I got the feeling the man might actually have some acting skills, and that with some work he could've moved into the genuinely much tougher world of the talking picture.

Valentino didn't live to see the talkie take over. Once again I've not only acquired myself someone much (much, much, much) older than me, I've acquired one who lived pretty fast and died young. Typical. Least I'm not alone- a hundred thousand people can't be wrong. Well, they can be, but that's a post for another day. For today at least, Valentino reigns supreme again. Tomorrow may be different.

Also on a movie note- who's up for the Clare Oscar Chat Party Extravaganza Lollapalooza shindig this year, and anyone know where I can host it?
apolla: (Default)
I have joked in the past that I am probably one of the few people who can say they've been in love with someone older than their grandfather. This is only half true- Errol Flynn has a decade on my granddad, but I'm not actually in love with the quail-hunting old bastard and never have been. Fascinated by, adoring fan, but not in love with. Still, civilians often don't see the difference, so think me a freak if you will.

Today, however, I found myself in the same position as the first time I saw The Adventures of Robin Hood, that is, completely captivated and entranced by someone on screen. It hasn't happened like this for a long old time- not since the Flynn, I suspect. There was was one time between, but that was entirely different. Anyway, today I saw The Sheik starring one Rudolph Valentino. Not only older than my grandfather, but a fellow who was born in the 19th Century and died when my granddad was a mere seven years old. Outdone meself, so I have.

Until this very day, or rather, now yesterday, I had not seen the fuss. I'm a movie geek, so it's not like I'm unaware of the man. Rudolph Valentino, the blueprint latin lover, etc etc, hundred thousand mourners at his funeral, the mysterious lady in black, the most beautiful man, etc etc. I never saw the point. I didn't think he was especially handsome, you know?

I was taking it all out of context. A still photograph is all very well, but it doesn't show you someone's expressions, nor their charisma, nor their way of being unless you already know what they are. To approach Valentino only in terms of still photographs of a fellow in a tuxedo or smothered in Hollywood Arabian dress is, it turns out, to entirely miss the point.

The man was beautiful, it turns out. He was no Flynn, but without Valentino there'd likely be no Errol Flynn. I see better now that Valentino was truly the first person put on screen that it's entirely possible - nay, easy - to fall in love with. Before Rudy V, who was there? Douglas Fairbanks? Chaplin? Tom Mix? All fine in their own ways, but not people to fall in love with. I can see now that on screen, Valentino was luminous and his face was pretty well perfect for the silent days of what is called in Singin in the Rain 'a lot of dumb show'. Well, some of it is pretty well dumb show, but there are moments in The Sheik where I got the feeling the man might actually have some acting skills, and that with some work he could've moved into the genuinely much tougher world of the talking picture.

Valentino didn't live to see the talkie take over. Once again I've not only acquired myself someone much (much, much, much) older than me, I've acquired one who lived pretty fast and died young. Typical. Least I'm not alone- a hundred thousand people can't be wrong. Well, they can be, but that's a post for another day. For today at least, Valentino reigns supreme again. Tomorrow may be different.

Also on a movie note- who's up for the Clare Oscar Chat Party Extravaganza Lollapalooza shindig this year, and anyone know where I can host it?

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