When a big production fails, naturally people start to ask questions. The historical romance drama, “Monsieur Beaucaire,” had a huge budget. Of course, period films tend to have massive budgets as set and costume designs can add up. Fingers immediately were pointed at Rudolph Valentino’s wife, Natacha Rambova. The costume/set designer didn’t only have much say over the costume and set design but on the film’s artistic vision as a whole.
Even though Rambova had done her research and hit the nail on the head when it came to historical accuracy, American audiences weren’t pleased. 1920s Americans just knew what they liked and “Monsieur Beaucaire” wasn’t that. That same year, reflecting the American attitude, comedian Stan Laurel (of the Laurel and Hardy duo) released “Monsieur Don’t Care” overtly parodying the film.
The lawsuit with Famous Players-Lasky also bought the romantic icon, Rudolph Valentino, time to pursue other interests like poetry. Anyone who had met Valentino wouldn’t have dared deny calling the actor a romantic at heart. It’s no coincidence that the actor bears the same name as a famous February 14 saint. True to his romantic nature, Valentino dabbled in a bit of poetry.
During his two-year hiatus, the actor released his anthology called “Day Dreams.” Of course, his wife, Natacha Rambova added her own spin to his poetry book, saying they were messages from Valentino’s spirit guide. Or perhaps, Valentino was just being his true romantic self.
Eventually, the two-year lawsuit between Valentino and Famous Playsers-Lasky ended. The two parties reached an agreement – or rather Valentino’s wife had reached one on her husband’s behalf. The production house agreed to pay their star actor $7500 per week and some creative influence and the actor would star in two of their motion pictures. Valentino’s first appearance after his two-year break was in the period romantic drama, “Monsieur Beaucaire.”
In the leading role, “Monsieur Beaucaire,” Valentino plays a besotted Duke de Chatres who goes undercover and adopts the persona of Monsieur Beaucaire. The movie’s storyline is kind of a mixture between a love triangle and “The Prince and the Pauper.” Naturally, audiences were impatient to see Valentino return to the big screen, but “Monsieur Beaucaire” clearly hadn’t met expectations.
Fallout with Mathis
Much of Rudolph Valentino’s initial success came down to getting the right opportunity at the right time. June Mathis, a legendary Hollywood screenwriter, was the individual who gave Valentino that opportunity. Of course, the actor’s success can’t be completely credited to her. Valentino and Mathis just made a legendary collaboration. They reproduced their success with “Blood and Rain” a year later. That’s what made their fallout that sadder.
After his return to film, Valentino dreamed up a film based on the Spanish folk hero, El Cid. He hired Mathis to write the script. But under his wife’s influence demanded the script rewritten. Naturally, this offended the legendary screenwriter. Apparently, the actor had gone too far. The insult to Mathis’ work led to the two falling out big time.
“The Hooded Falcon”
In 1924, silent movie star, Rudolph Valentino, and his wife, Natacha Rambova, returned from their holiday in Europe to their luxurious apartment at 270 Park Avenue. The couple didn’t return empty-handed. They were burdened with antiques they had bought from their travels. The antiques were to be used as props in their upcoming film “The Hooded Falcon.”
Interestingly, the showbiz couple’s luxurious apartment may have been rented for the sole purpose of storing their antiques. Though Valentino and Rambova went to great lengths to make the historical film based on the Spanish folk hero “El Cid” including writing the storyline, selecting their cast, and acquiring the movie’s props, “The Hooded Falcon” was never completed. They ran into financial troubles, and “The Hooded Falcon” never made it to the big screen.