Archive for May 19, 2019

The Sunday Intertitle: Zenda and the Art of Monocle Maintenance

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on May 19, 2019 by dcairns

The Rex Ingram PRISONER OF ZENDA (1922) might contain Ramon Novarro’s best work. As the villainous Rupert of Hentzau, and still using his birth name, Ramon Samaniegos, he’s suave and charismatic, and his unmistakable air of camp fits neatly with the stereotype of the effete villain.

David Wingrove tells me that Ingram named Novarro because the actor’s bottom reminded him of the Novarro Valley — a scenic beauty spot south of the border.

Relieved of the later need to centre a film or be sympathetic, Novarro is awesomely charismatic, leaving the boring stuff to the awesomely boring Lewis Stone. In his first scene, where the conspirators plot the uncrowned heir to the throne’s abduction, he gets no intertitles of his own, but has the tightest close-up as he draws a line across his throat to suggest what ought to be done, and then makes a hilarious and sulky “Oh, pooh!” face when told violence is off the table.

Stardom awaits!

Advertisements