Blood and Sand (1922 film)

Blood and Sand is a 1922 American silent drama film produced by Paramount Pictures, directed by Fred Niblo and starring Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee and Nita Naldi. It was based on the 1909 Spanish novel Sangre y arena (Blood and Sand) by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and the play version of the book by Thomas Cushing.

Blood and Sand
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFred Niblo
Produced byFred Niblo (uncredited)
Jesse L. Lasky
Screenplay byJune Mathis
Based onThe novel Blood and Sand by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and the play by Thomas Cushing
StarringRudolph Valentino
Lila Lee
Nita Naldi
Rosa Rosanova
Walter Long
CinematographyAlvin Wyckoff
Edited byDorothy Arzner (uncredited)
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 5, 1922 (1922-08-05) (United States)
Running time
80 minutes
9 reels (8,110 feet)
CountryUnited States
English intertitles
Box office$1,250,000 (US/Canada)[1]


Juan Gallardo (Valentino), a village boy born into poverty, grows up to become one of the greatest matadors in Spain. He marries a friend from his childhood, the beautiful and virtuous Carmen (Lee), but after he achieves fame and fortune he finds himself drawn to Doña Sol (Naldi), a wealthy, seductive widow.

They embark on a torrid affair with sadomasochistic overtones, but Juan, feeling guilty over his betrayal of Carmen, tries to free himself of Doña Sol. Furious at being rejected, she exposes their affair to Carmen and Juan's mother, seemingly destroying his marriage. Growing more and more miserable and dissipated, Juan becomes reckless in the arena. He is eventually killed in a bullfight but does manage to reconcile with Carmen moments before he dies.

There is also a subplot involving a local outlaw whose career is paralleled to Juan's throughout the film by the village philosopher: Juan's fatal injury in the bullring comes moments after the outlaw is shot by the police.


Production notes

The film was produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and Paramount Pictures, and distributed by Paramount. June Mathis, who has been credited as discovering Valentino, adapted the novel for the screen.[2]

Dorothy Arzner worked as the film's editor. Arnzer, who would later become one of the first female film directors, used stock footage of bullfights filmed in Madrid interspersed with close-ups of Valentino. Her work on the film helped to solidify her reputation of being a resourceful editor as her techniques also saved Paramount money. She would later say that working on the film was the "first waymark to my claim to a little recognition as an individual."[3]


Blood and Sand premiered at the Rialto Theater in Los Angeles on August 22, 1922. The film was a box office hit and was one of the top-grossing films of 1922.[5] The film, along with The Sheik and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (both 1921), helped to establish Valentino as a star and was one of the most successful films of his career.[6][7] "In my judgement it is the best thing he has done," said Mary Pickford of Valentino's performance, "and one of Mr. Niblo's finest pictures. It is one of the few pictures I have been able to sit through twice and enjoy the second time more than the first."[8]

Other adaptations

An earlier version of Blood and Sand was released in 1916, and filmed by Blasco Ibáñez himself, with the help of Max André. This earlier version was restored in 1998 by the Filmoteca de la Generalitat Valenciana (Spain).

Blood and Sand has also been remade twice; a 1941 version was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and stars Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Rita Hayworth. The 1989 Spanish remake was directed by Javier Elorrieta and stars Chris Rydell, Sharon Stone, and Ana Torrent.

The film was the source of legendary football player Johnny "Blood" McNally's nickname - he started playing professional under an alias to protect his remaining college eligibility. He and a friend passed a theater where Blood and Sand was playing. Suddenly, McNally exclaimed to his friend, "That's it! You be Sand. I'll be Blood".[9]

Blood and Sand was parodied by Stan Laurel in Mud and Sand (1922). In the film, Laurel portrays a character named Rhubarb Vaselino.[10] Will Rogers also parodied Blood and Sand in the Hal Roach short film Big Moments From Little Pictures (1924).[11]

The film gave its name to a popular Prohibition-era cocktail, the Blood and Sand.


  1. Quigley Publishing Company "The All Time Best Sellers", International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38 (1938) p 942 accessed 19 April 2014
  2. Browne, Ray B.; Browne, Pat, eds. (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. p. 867. ISBN 0-879-72821-3.
  3. Mayne, Judith (1994). Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Indiana University Press. p. 25. ISBN 0-253-20896-3.
  4. (1922). "Plays and Players" Photoplay
  5. Leider, Emily W. (2004). Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino. Macmillan. pp. 217–218. ISBN 0-571-21114-3.
  6. Booker, M. Keith (2011). Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 391. ISBN 0-810-87192-0.
  7. Turner Classic Movies; Osborne, Robert; Haskell, Molly (2006). Leading Men: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actors of the Studio Era. Chronicle Books. p. 209. ISBN 0-811-85467-1.
  8. Howe, Herbert (January 1924). "Mary Pickford's Favorite Stars and Films". Photoplay. New York: Photoplay Publishing Company. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  9. ProFootballHof website entry
  10. Okuda, Ted (2012). Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927. McFarland. p. 138. ISBN 0-786-48987-1.
  11. Petro, Patrice (2010). Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s. Rutgers University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-813-54732-6.
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