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Blood And Sand (1922).rtf
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Blood And Sand (1922)
Juan is the son of a poor widow in Seville. Against his mother's wishes he pursues a career as toreador. He rapidly gains national prominence, and takes his childhood sweetheart Carmen as his bride.
He meets the Marquis' daughter Dona Sol, and finds himself in the awkward position of being in love with two women, which threatens the stability of his family and his position in society.
He finds interesting parallels in the life of the infamous bandit Plumitas when they eventually meet by chance.
Rosa Rosanova ... Angustias (as Rose Rosanova)
Leo White ... Antonio
Rosita Marstini ... Encarnacion
Rudolph Valentino ... Juan Gallardo (as Rodolph Valentino)
Lila Lee ... Carmen
Charles Belcher ... Don Joselito
Fred Becker ... Don José
George Field ... El Nacional
Jack Winn ... Potaje
Harry Lamont ... Puntillero
Director: Fred Niblo
XVid / MP3
With the exception of Julio in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Juan Gallardo is perhaps the most three dimensional role Rudolph Valentino ever played. The story is familiar, even predictable enough: a young Spaniard is born poor, achieves fame and fortune as a matador, marries a nice convent girl, is beguiled by a truly nasty society woman (who basically collects and discards him), loses his will to fight in the arena and dies soon after a reconciliation with his long suffering wife.
But Valentino brings this rather clichéd character to life: he is convincing as the happy go lucky, apparently shiftless teenaged Juan, as the young man celebrated as the greatest bullfighter in Spain, confident and thoroughly enjoying his new wealth and fame, as the besotted wooer of his childhood friend Carmen, and as the suddenly uncertain, ill at ease lover of the wealthy Dona Sol whom he nonetheless cannot free himself from. (At times his degradation suggests that of the professor in "The Blue Angel.")
His range is perhaps most apparent in the love scenes: he is tender and considerate when he is caressing his nervous bride on their wedding night but sadistic and brutish when taunted by his kinky mistress who wants him to beat her (the dialogue here is undeniably purple —at one point Juan calls Dona Sol "a serpent from hell"—but it somehow fits Juan's basic personality which is impassioned and unsophisticated). Valentino even gets to show his flair for comedy when he romps with the little boys who play his nephews.
In short, his wide ranging performance in "Blood and Sand" puts to the rest the myth that as a actor he can do little more than wear clothes well and glare.
However, although Valentino's performance is compelling, there are problems with "Blood and Sand" that keep it from being a truly great film. First, considering that this is a movie about bull fighting, the fighting scenes were, unfortunately, weak and consisted of awkwardly spliced in footage of actual fights (in fairness to the producers, animal cruelty laws had recently been introduced that prevented the filming of scenes with actual bulls).
An even more serious problem is that the script (using a portentous old busybody as a mouthpiece) would have us believe that Juan's downfall is somehow inherently tied in to the cruelty of bullfighting itself--that by living by such savagery Juan would inevitably die by it. The objections to the inhumanity of bullfighting may have been well intended, but as set forth Juan's decline and fall have little to do with this—he flounders because, perhaps not unlike some modern superstar athletes from humble backgrounds, his newfound wealth and fame lead him to make rash, ill advised decisions such as betraying his devoted wife to become involved with an upper class woman who enjoys slumming with him but will never consider him as an equal or take him seriously as a man.
(If anything is condemned in "Blood and Sand" it is the cruelty of social caste: Juan found wealth and fame, but he is still very much the social inferior of the likes of Dona Sol, and one of the reasons why he finds it hard to say no to her is not just because he is sexually in thrall to her but because in this near feudal society she is his better—in fact he is told so directly when, resisting Dona Sol's initial attempt to meet him he is bluntly told that it would be unseemly for him to snub a woman of her position. Something of this sort is also happening, I think, when, immediately after the affair is revealed, he mortifies his wife by humbly waiting on Dona Sol).
Despite the above problems, this is still one of the more memorable films of the silent period and worth owning.