The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The mystical novels of Vicente Blasco-Ibanez were much prized by ambitious silent filmmaker Rex Ingram, who filmed two of them in the 1920s, both ostensibly vehicles for his actress wife Alice Terry. The first of the two, Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, was infinitely more successful than the second (Mare Nostrum), a fact that can be attributed to two little words: Rudolph Valentino. The quintessential Latin Lover stars as Julio, the scion of a wealthy Argentinian family. During the years prior to World War I, Julio's relatives relocate to Germany and France, with Julio opting for the latter country, where he opens an art studio. Here he carries on a torrid affair with Alice Terry, the wife of an attorney. When World War I breaks out, Terry joins the Red Cross and her husband enlists in the army, while the carefree Julio avoids involvement in the conflict. Only when visited by the spectres of the Four Horseman--war, conquest, famine, and death--does Julio don a uniform. His death is a symbolic sacrifice on behalf of Ms. Terry, whose husband has been blinded in the war: and, in an additional symbolic grace-note, Julio dies at the hands of his own cousin, now a German officer. The film's Big Money sequence was the one in which Rudolph Valentino danced the forbidden tango in a dingy, smoke-filled Argentinian cantina. That's what made him a star, not all that mumbo-jumbo about fate, destiny, and Four Horsemen. Proof that Valentino and not Blasco-Ibanez was the principal drawing card of this film was the 1962 remake, in which Glenn Ford portrays Julio.