In 1926 the tragic and untimely death of a silent screen actor caused female moviegoers to riot in the streets and in some cases to commit suicide - that actor was Rudolph Valentino. ... See full summary »
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In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.
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In 1926 the tragic and untimely death of a silent screen actor caused female moviegoers to riot in the streets and in some cases to commit suicide - that actor was Rudolph Valentino. Ballroom dancer Valentino manipulated his good looks and animal-like grace into a Hollywood career. His smouldering love making, tinged with a touch of masterful cruelty, expressed a sexuality which was at once both shocking and sensual. Written by
"Romantic" co-stars Rudolf Nureyev and Michelle Phillips got along so poorly during the making of this film that they were reported to have engaged in an on-set slapping match during shooting of the love scenes. See more »
Who knows if any of this is true, but director Ken Russell's take on the life of Rudolph Valentino is a lot of fun. Opening at Valentino's infamously raucous funeral, the film is told in flashbacks by various people who knew him. That's where any similarity to CITIZEN KANE ends. Russell is a master of opulence and it's clear that no money was spared. The sets and costumes are spectacular, but they're nearly overshadowed by Russell's casting choices. Michelle Phillips plays Valentino's wife Natasha, Leslie Caron is the great Nazimova and one time Dead End kid Huntz Hall is Paramount chief Jesse Lansky. Bizarre casting to be sure, but all three are surprisingly good. Caron in particular seems to be having a really good time. In hindsight, the casting of Rudolf Nureyev as the world's "greatest lover" seems ironic, but he isn't bad. It is too bad he has to speak. There are times he's incomprehensible. The direction is fairly straightforward, although Caron's funeral scene entrance and Valentino's jail house encounter are vintage Russell --- they're nearly operatic. Carol Kane and Seymour Cassel are in it too.
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