VALENTINO (1951). Director: Lewis Allen.
Mostly fictionalized biography of the great silent star Rudolph Valentino, played here by Anthony Dexter, who looks quite a bit like Rudy and gives an excellent performance as well. Valentino meets famous actress Joan Carlisle (Eleanor Parker) and through her and her director Bill King (Richard Carlson) finds himself in the movies. [Carlisle and King are supposed to be director Rex Ingram and his actress wife Alice Terry, who appeared on-screen with Valentino.] Valentino romances several ladies, including Joan, who's reluctant to get involved with the Latin lover boy because he has serious commitment problems. Instead Joan marries King, and finds herself in an uncomfortable position when she's teamed with Rudy, whom she's still attracted to, in a movie. By focusing on this triangle, the movie completely avoids all the true drama of the essentially homosexual Valentino's life and career and becomes a little tedious. The production isn't first-rate, either. The capable supporting cast includes Lloyd Gough as a nosy reporter Eddie, Otto Kruger as a producer, Patricia Medina as an actress Valentino nearly marries, and Dona Drake in another fiery role as Valentino's dance partner, boss, and lover early in the picture. [Drake was memorable as Bette Davis' slovenly maid in Beyond the Forest.]
Because Valentino wasn't successful despite his fine performance, Anthony Dexter later wound up in such films as Fire Maidens of Outer Space.
Verdict: A bit colorful but not enough. **.
For the real story of Valentino's life, click here to read an article by Lawrence J. Quirk and to see many photos of Valentino and his films.