I picked up The Married Virgin just to check out Valentino in one of his pre-star roles and I was pleasantly surprised
by the film — it's a light but very skillful piece of entertainment.
The DVD looks great, despite the fact that this version was cobbled together from a few different prints. Missing title
cards were judiciously recreated for the restoration.
DVD liner notes say that this was the director's first film, but that's
hard to credit, since the storytelling is so assured, brisk and
energetic. There are some delightful bits of plastic invention, among
them a fine shot of Valentino and the heroine swimming in the ocean,
framed from above, so you can't tell how far out to sea they are, until
a wave suddenly rises beneath them and sweeps them towards shore . . .
and an equally satisfying sequence with the Valentino character and his
stepmother-in-law/lover (yes, it's that kind of melodrama) driving
wildly along a hillside road.
brisk pace of the film is fortunate, since little in the narrative
bears serious reflection. (“Why,” you keep asking yourself, “did
McMillan keep that gun, instead of dropping it down a well?” The answer
is as old as filmmaking itself — “Because then there would have been
is an absolute hoot to watch. Even though he's playing the
sophisticated and cunning Count Roberto, he looks more like a kid
playing dress-up — a little wet behind the ears, but all the more
adorable for that. And wide-eyed as he is, he cuts a sensational figure
in his well-tailored wardrobe . . . in a male-model sort of way. But he
has a dancer's capacity for absolute stillness, and a dancer's
knowledge of how to use this to draw attention to himself.
then there are a few moments when his sexuality becomes lethal — as in
his first close-up, when he kisses Mrs. McMillan's hand. There's an
assurance in the act, and a hint of delicious legato, which promise
much. He has at all times a distinctive way of touching women, placing
his hand just so, holding it still, as though it couldn't be anywhere
else, and never will be. Finally, there is a startling shot of him as
he's interrupted in the process of trying to rape his virgin bride. He
has an almost bestial look — as though drugged senseless by lust.
film, tied up in court for a couple of years by unpaid crew members,
was released after Four Horsemen Of the Apocalypse and must have been
terribly frustrating to Valentino's new fans. He plays a cad, and the
heroine, forced to marry him to keep her father from prison, resists
his advances with epic fortitude — thus eventually saving herself for
her distinctly charmless leading man. But what advances they are! One
simply cannot sympathize with a heroine who is immune to them — and in
that utterly amoral but undeniable fact lies the inevitability of