Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17th Silent Sunday movie: Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

If you have trouble sleeping, sometimes a good old-fashioned Silent Movie might help. Tonight's selectioin on TMC channel 420 (Time Warner Cable) is the Prisoner of Zenda from 1922.

 From TCM's Website

Metro entrusted the production to Rex Ingram, an Irish-born actor-turned-director who had scored a huge hit the year before with The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). Ingram was as noted for his ability to keep large-scale productions moving as for his genius at creating stars. For Horsemen, he had discovered Rudolph Valentino. Prior to that, he had turned Alice Taaffe, a perky redhead usually cast in supporting roles, into Alice Terry, the icy blonde star of his greatest pictures (and his wife). Although Terry and Lewis Stone (as the identical cousins) were slated for the film's starring roles, Ingram realized that much of the picture's success would depend on the proper casting of Rupert of Hentzau, the henchman who does all of Black Michael's dirty work. He set out to find a tall, Germanic blond in his mid-thirties, and wound up with a short Mexican actor of only 23. But once he saw the devilish humor in Ramon Samaniego's eyes, he knew he'd found his man, though the actor would soon change his screen name to Ramon Novarro. It's fair to say that Novarro pretty much stole the film with his tongue-in-cheek playing, making him one of the first in a long line of charismatic movie villains who would make evil dangerously seductive. (Other successors who come to mind are Basil Rathbone, James Mason and Alan Rickman). Although originally billed fourth, Novarro would rise to top billing for later reissues of the movie.

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