Rudy Valentino’s Artistic Soul


Rudy Valentino, photograph James Abbe

Rudy Valentino, photograph James Abbe

Star Declares Productions Do Not Live Up to His Ambitions — It Is Rumored However That Salary Is Big Issue in Present Difficulties

NEW YORK, September 5. — Rodolph Valentino’s artistic soul has been jarred. The jolt, he declares, was delivered by the way “Blood and Sand” — one of the greatest box office attractions ever known on Broadway — was handled by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation.

But be it known to all and sundry, declares the young man whose pulchritudinous charms bring sighs of admiration from the lowermost depths of the hearts of feminine screen fans, box office values mean nothing to him. Money is nothing. Artistry is the thing. So there.

Not Interested in Box Office Value Says Star

Says Valentino in the only interview he has deigned to relieve himself of: “I have been dissatisfied with the photography, management and direction — the handling of all my films. They do not live up to my artistic ambitions. I am not interested in their box office value, but only from the artistic viewpoint.”

So there again. It is rumored in motion picture vehicles that the realization that his artistic temperament had been bumped came to Rodolph while he was studying arithmetic on a small slip of paper bearing the Famous Player-Lasky signature and representing his weekly emolument. With a star of lesser magnitude that little slip would be called the pay check.

The Trouble Starts

It is also rumored that the wallop to the artistic sense would have been greatly assuaged had the star been able to study higher mathematics on the emolument certificate. So taking it by and large Rodolph decided it was high time for him to trek East and start trouble. So he came and started it, and already a whole flock of attorneys are trying to unscramble what “Rudy” started.

The first flirt of the scramble was the filing of a notice by Valentino through his attorney upon Famous Players that he was dissatisfied and desired to be loosed from his contract. In other words he didn’t like the way his job was being handled and proposed to close the act.

Elek John Ludvigh, general counselor and treasurer of Famous Players, after a couple of conferences with Valentino’s attorney, in an effort to effect an amicable settlement, decided to at once bring suit against the lover of the screen to compel him to fulfill his contract. The papers being prepared in the case also seek to enjoin Valentino from working for anyone else during the period of his contract with Famous Players.

The law firm of Guggenheimer, Untermeyer and Marshall have been engaged by Mr. Ludvigh to institute the suit which will be commenced within a few days. The matter was brought to the attention of Will H. Hays by a letter from the law firm. Valentino’s attorney has also sought the intervention of Mr. Hays. The latter, however, holds that the matter is not within his province and has only taken cognizance of the affair by acknowledging the letters and forwarding them as requested.

Sends Letter to Hays

Following is the letter sent to Mr. Hays by Guggenheimer, Untermeyer and Marshall, copies of which were mailed from the Hays office to all members of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors Association:

« We address you as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc. We have been retained by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation to bring suit against one Rodolph Valentino, a motion picture actor, to restrain him from violating his agreement to perform exclusively in motion pictures for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, for a period which, including renewal options, has about two and one-half years to run. We are ready to disclose to you the terms of the contract should you desire further information regarding it.

Pending the hearing of an application which we are preparing for an injunction pendente lite, it is important that no producer shall enter into a contract with Valentino, in ignorance of the rights and claims of our client.

In order that the facts may be brought to the attention of the industry, will you be good enough to communicate promptly with all producers and distributors who are members of your organization, acquainting them with our client’s claims in the premises? You will thereby render a distinct public service by preventing others from becoming involved in this litigation and at the same time will accord proper protection to ‘our client, who is a member of your organization, against the consequences of what we regard as a threatened breach of contract ».

Valentino Makes Appeal

The following letter was received at the Hays office from Arthur Butler Graham, attorney for Valentino:

« My attention has been called to a letter sent you today by Messrs. Guggenheimer, Untermyer and Marshall, who state that they have been retained by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation to bring suit against one Rodolph Valentino, a motion picture actor, to restrain him from violating his agreement to perform exclusively in motion pictures for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, and requesting that you communicate promptly with all producers and distributors who are members of your organization, acquainting them with the claims of their client in the premises. You are assured by them that you will thereby render a distinct service by preventing others from becoming involved in the litigation and at the same time will afford proper protection to Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, who is a member of your organization, of the consequences of what the writers regard as a threatened breach of the contract.

Notwithstanding that you are president of the Motion Picture Producers and Disributors of America, Inc., and perhaps do not ostensibly represent the stars, directors and others who are an important part of the production of pictures, I have followed with interest and admiration your sincere efforts for the good of the motion picture industry as a whole and your growing conception of its mission and of its importance as a contribution to our times.

For the foregoing reason I feel sure that while you would be willing to heed the request of counsel for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation to afford proper protection to their client, you will also stand firmly for a proper protection for any artist sincerely devoted to his work, against violation of contract, oppression of himself or suppression of his talents.

I realize that not even the great power and far-reaching influence of Famous Players-Lasky Corporation will affect your judgment or your action, and I am writing you for the sole purpose of conveying to you Mr Valentino’s assurance of the justice of his cause and to ask you to withhold any action until the court has rendered its decision ».

(Exhibitors Herald, September 16 1922)

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