Valentino (1951 film)

Valentino is a 1951 American Technicolor adventure film directed by Lewis Allen and starring Eleanor Parker, Richard Carlson and Patricia Medina.

Directed byLewis Allen
Produced byEdward Small
Written byGeorge Bruce
StarringEleanor Parker
Richard Carlson
Patricia Medina
Music byHeinz Roemheld
CinematographyHarry Stradling Sr.
Edited byDaniel Mandell
Edward Small Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1951 (1951-03-10)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.3 million[1]
Box office$1,550,000 (US rentals)[2]


Rudolph Valentino arrives in America and becomes a film star. He falls in love with an actress and dies an early death.



Edward Small had announced the project in 1938, with Jack Dunn first mooted to play the title role as a follow up to his debut in The Duke of West Point.[3] However the film had been delayed by script troubles, legal threats, the war, troubles making a movie with the lead character was Italian, and looking for the right actor to play the lead.[4]


Florence Ryan wrote a script in 1939 but this was often rewritten.[5] Others who worked on it (there were an estimated over 30 drafts) include Edward Chodorov, Stephen Longstreet, Sheridan Gibney, Frederick J. Jackson, Virginia Van Upp and George Oppenheimer.[6][7] Eventual director Lewis Allen described the film as "an imaginary, romantic story with acting as a background."[8] Edward Small could not get clearance from either of Valentino's wives, Jean Acker or Natacha Rambova so the script did not feature either; instead he has three fictitious lovers in the film, one of whom is his married co-star


Del Casino and Louis Hayward were mentioned as early possibilities.[9][10] In 1946 it was announced Small tried to secure Cornel Wilde for the lead but was unable to.[11] Frederik Vayder auditioned and Louis Jourdan, Helmut Dantine and John Derek were also considered.[12][13][14]

The final script was heavily fictionalised to avoid lawsuits from Valentino's former wives, industry associates and his family namely his brother Alberto.[15]

Antony Dexter was selected over 2,000 actors who auditioned. He was under contract to Small for two years taking acting and dancing lessons before being used in the film.[16] Lewis Allen was hired from Paramount and was paid $60,000.[1]

In 1949 another producer Jan Grippo announced plans to make a rival project but eventually came to an agreement with Small; Grippo became an associate on the film.[17] (In the 1940s there was another proposed project starring Victor Mature and Pola Negri.[18])


Filming started on 2 June 1950 and took place at the Columbia Ranch and the Sam Goldwyn Studios. George Melford, who directed Valentino in the 1920s, had a supporting role.[19]

The film includes recreated sequences from such Valentino films as The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), A Sainted Devil (1924) and The Eagle (1926).


Reviews were mostly poor.[20][21]

The film was one of Edward Small's few box office failures.[1] However it did well in South America where Anthony Dexter subsequently went on a dancing tour.[22]

It was announced that Dexter would appear in a remake of The Sheik (1921), the rights for which Small had purchased in order to show segments of that film in Valentino. However he only made one more film for Small - The Brigand - then they terminated their contract by mutual agreement.[23]

Alice Terry sued the filmmakers for $750,000 complaining she was depicted in the film as carrying out an illicit love affair while still being married. Valentino's brother and sister launched a $500,000 lawsuit against the filmmakers. Both cases settled out of court.[24][25]


  1. Bernard Dick, The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row : Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c1993. p 136
  2. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  3. HIGHLIGHTING THE WEEK'S NEWS New York Times 19 June 1938: 3.
  4. "HOLLYWOOD DOSSIER: Long Hunt for Actor to Play Valentino Finally Ends -- Other Studio Items" by THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times 14 Aug 1949: X3.
  5. "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Cooper Gets Lead in 'Triumph Over Pain,' Paramount Film of Dr. Morton's Life EIGHT OPENINGS THIS WEEK French Picture, 'That They May Live,' Has Premiere Tonight at Filmarte Fred Stone in "The Westerner" Coast Scripts" by DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times 06 Nov 1939: 20.
  6. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Warners Pick 'Skipper of the Ispahan' as a Vehicle for George Brent TWO NEW PICTURES TODAY 'Lucky Night' and 'East Side of Heaven,' With Bing Crosby, to Have Local Premieres Various Castings By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times 04 May 1939: 33.
  7. "Drama: Ed Gardner to Star Rediscovered Player" Los Angeles Times 1 June 1950: A8
  9. Louella O. Parsons' "Close-Ups and Long-Shots Of the Motion Picture Scene" The Washington Post 28 Mar 1939: 18.
  10. In Hollywood With Hedda Hopper The Washington Post 11 Nov 1939: 16.
  11. "Paramount's English Plans Get Green Light" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 15 May 1946: 9.
  12. "DRAMA AND FILM: Wilde, 20th Reconcile; Cathy Downs Starred" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 08 Oct 1947: A9.
  13. "Looking at Hollywood" Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 28 Mar 1949: A7.
  14. "Looking at Hollywood" Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 13 Dec 1946: 36
  15. "VELENTINO MOVIE BEFORE CAMERAS: Edward Small Starts Picture About Silent-Era Star After 12 Years of Preparation" by THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times 02 June 1950: 34.
  16. "NEWCOMER TO PLAY VALENTINO IN FILM: Tony Dexter, 29, 'Dead Ringer' for Silent Star, Is Named by Edward Small for Role" by THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times 11 Aug 1949: 27.
  17. "HOLLYWOOD WIRE: Theatre Owners Advised How to Combat Television Inroads -- Other Matters" by THOMAS F. BRADY HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times 18 Sep 1949: X5.
  18. "DRAMA: Pola Negri May Play in Story of Valentino" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 16 Apr 1942: A10.
  19. "Drama: Joe E. Brown Expected for Big Legion Revue; Animals Haunt Director" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 26 June 1950: A7.
  20. "A Rudy by Any Other Name . . ." by Richard L. Coe. The Washington Post 10 Apr 1951: 20.
  21. "'Valentino' Fleetingly Limns Idol" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 14 Apr 1951: 8.
  22. "Actors Leaving Films Attempt To Lose Professional Names" The Washington Post 19 June 1952: 16
  23. "Mitchell Likely Cap'n Andy; Preston to Star as Heavy With Rooney" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 Aug 1950: A11.
  24. Alice Terry Suit Over Valentino Film Settled Los Angeles Times 06 Jan 1953: A1
  25. "Look-Alike Surgery: Filmland Tried to Make What Valentino's Brother Lacked" Los Angeles Times 15 June 1981: 20.
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