Rudolph Valentino, The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs (2010) – By James L. Neibaur

Blurb.com specializes in allowing people to create their own picture books, and Donna Hill, a passionate fan of iconic actor Rudolph Valentino, has a wealth of  photos, many heretofore unpublished, that she is able to share, with captions.  It makes for a fascinating series of visuals about perhaps the greatest leading man in silent cinema.

Even most people who close-mindedly limit themselves to the paltry few films represented by Blockbuster Video’s section of New Releases will have at least some awareness of Rudolph Valentino.  Often it is negative, one of an eye bulging, nostril flaring, overacting representation of an archaic period in movies that is best left to the dustbin of history.  In fact, Valentino was a versatile actor whose more passionate portrayals were offset by subtler efforts depending on the role he was playing.  His impact was enormous, his popularity immeasurable, and his early death in 1926 resulted in an orgy of worldwide mourning.

Donna Hill compiles a series of fascinating photographs from Valentino’s life and career, allowing us to see the different sides of the actor and the man.  The still she has gathered are enough for us to discern the charisma he could present so effortlessly on screen.

Film books can be critical assessments, biographical studies, or celebrations of an actor’s life and work.  But Donna Hill’s book instead celebrates the visual of cinema by gathering photographs to salute its most photogenic star. 

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