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USA 1977
Directed by
Ken Russell
122 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Rudolph Nureyev stars as Rudolph Valentino in this account of the latter’s rapid ascent from gigolo to silent film superstar and then an unexpected death from a burst ulcer in 1926. Nureyev (who died in 1993 of AIDS) was a much better ballet dancer than an actor but given that Valentino was a ham, this actually works quite well even if the too short scenes in which Nureyev does dance are marvellous.

Made for United Artists (the studio which was founded by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Charlie Chaplin in the silent era is incorporated into the story) with a sizeable budget, Russell gets to justice to his well-known taste for visual excess. He recreates the famous Valentino films such as The Sheik, The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse and Son Of The Sheik but most of the story is purely imaginary. Some of it is less than successful, including a clumsy nude scene with Nureyev and co-star Michelle Phillips (of '60s pop group The Mamas and Papas) and one rather more grotesque with a manically masturbating Dudley Sutton, but for the most part, for anyone with a taste for the camp, Valentino is an entertaining flight of fancy. 




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