Two of the most illustrious careers of the Silent Era are profiled. Tough, ambitious Gloria Swanson, who fought to get out of Mack Sennett's comic factory, fought for prestigious roles at Paramount with A \-list directors like Cecil B. DeMille and Allan Dwan became one of the most admired and imitated women in America. However, after an unsuccessful marriage to a European aristocrat, she had the bad judgment to leave the prestigious studio and sign with United artists resulting in the unreleasable disaster "Queen Kelly," which badly damaged her career. After Italian immigrant Rudolph Valentino played some supporting roles in the teens, his being cast in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and "The Sheik" made him the epitome of the Latin lover and greatest romantic lead in films. After two unsuccessful marriages and fighting rumors that questioned his virility, his meteoric career ended at age 31 with his death from peritonitis. Written by
This sixth entry in the mammoth series is perhaps the weakest so far but it's still well-worth watching for fans of silent cinema or the two stars that are highlighted here. First up we get to hear about the career of Gloria Swanson, which started in comedies, which she apparently hated and then she got the break of her career when teaming up with Cecil B. DeMille. In the Valentino story, we too hear about his rise and eventual fall before an untimely death that caused him to become a legend. Both parts of this documentary have their strong points but there's no question that the big plus is that we get an interview with Swanson. The documentary makes the case that most people know Swanson for her role in SUNSET BLVD. and the type of character she played in that film is pretty much how she comes off here. She's very sure of herself and cocky in many of her answers but all of this will certainly put a smile on your face. One of the best stories she tells is about the lion sequence in MALE AND FEMALE. Her fall from grace is well done and there's no question that she was an interesting character. The Valentino sequence is pretty interesting in the later parts once we get to his death. It's interesting to learn that he was popular but falling fast at the time of his death and that him dying young is what probably made him a legend. There was some newsreel footage of his funeral in New York where a riot broke out and some even more interesting footage in California where he was finally laid to rest. To show that producers were scumbags back in the day, we're told that the man who made the most money off Valentino in life also made $2 million on his death yet the dead actor's family saw none of the money and the actor didn't even get a grave to be buried in.
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