Archive for Rudolph Valentino

How I Play a Love Scene

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on November 14, 2019 by dcairns

Valentino tells Movie Weekly magazine about his method acting approach to character and love scenes.

Having dived fairly deep in the fan mags for research into this star, I’m of the opinion that everything anyone ever told them was sheer ballyhoo and applesauce. What’s intriguing is that Valentino’s description of his method, which I sincerely doubt has anything to do with his actual approach, does closely align with what modern actors like to claim about their technique, and some of them really mean it.

As for living your role night and day, whatever works for you. I always suspected that if I were a crewmember on MY LEFT FOOT and Daniel Day-Lewis asked me to shove him about in his wheelchair, I might slightly baulk at this. “Not my department.” I refuse to believe that pretending you can’t walk is difficult and requires deep immersion. I myself frequently pretend I can’t walk, when required to, for instance, go out for milk. But I suppose I’d go along with his nonsense. Pushing an actor around is better than the reverse.

The Sunday Intertitle: The Last Intertitle of Rudolph Valentino

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 9, 2018 by dcairns

The last intertitle to emerge from Rudy Valentino’s lips ~

The film is Valentino’s SON OF THE SHEIK, directed by George Fitzmaurice. Which climaxes with an exciting chase and then a chaste kiss ~

 

The Sunday Intertitle: Bull!

Posted in FILM, Sport with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2017 by dcairns

One last Stan Laurel solo film, then we can move on. MUD AND SAND is Stan’s epic denunciation of Rudolph Valentino (here, Rhubarb Vaseline). All the intertitles, or nearly all, rely on bull-based humour.

Hey, I’m not knocking it.

Visual gags are little more varied, depending largely on the deflation of Dorothy Arzner’s melodrama with pratfalls, but Stan’s first, successful corrida, shot from outside the arena walls, is impressively silly. As the other matadors-to-be anxiously wait for Stan to be carried out arrayed on a stretcher with limbs akimbo, like his predecessors, a stuffed cow flies over the wall, crashing unconvincingly to the ground. And then it all happens again.

The repetition of gags is an interesting phenomenon. Buster Keaton didn’t go in for it, unless he could play a variation on the gag to surprise the audience. I suspect this proud refusal to be predictable was a big part of why he was less popular than Chaplin and Lloyd.

Chaplin repeats incessantly, and the recurring arse-kicks or pratfalls become part of a structured dance. Stan just repeats where it seems likely to get another laugh. It’s been suggested that Laurel & Hardy relied more on predictability than surprise: showing the audience the banana peel before it’s slipped on. The comedy coming from the expected gag happening right on cue. But that doesn’t seem quite right. Everybody shows the banana peel first. But only Buster has characters walk over it without slipping — outsmarting or “double-crossing” the audience.

I want to try to analyse L&H’s approach more closely. I do think they’re the funniest, in terms of intensity and volume and duration and frequency of laughs, of any classic era comedians. It doesn’t matter if you personally like them or not — I think their success is measurable and would be borne out by any laffometer. And they seem to use both jokes of predictability and jokes of surprise — the former making the latter more surprising. And of course there’s the measured pace. They jettison entirely the myriad advantages of pace, to concentrate on getting the most out of every joke by worrying it to death. But there’s even more going on than that, and I want to explore it.

This will mean looking at talkies, since I think the talkies are their funniest films. But maybe a silent or two also…