Betty Hutton had resurrected Pearl White. The Perils of Pauline had made a fortune for Paramount. Why not take a chance on another Hollywood biopic? Perhaps film fans would like to remember their other great stars of the silents. And who was the greatest and best remembered star of the silents?
Independent producer Edward Small had been trying to get a project about the life of Rudolf Valentino off the ground since 1938. However the project was fraught with script rewrites and legal threats Not to mention finding someone right for the part.
Small couldn’t get cooperation from either of Valentino’s wives, so the script would have to fictionalize them both. It was rumored that Small wanted Louis Hayward or Cornel Wilde for the part. Some reports say Helmut Dantine, Louis Jourdan and John Derek were mentioned. In the end a newcomer, Anthony Dexter, who supposedly looked like the great lover, was cast. But star Eleanor Parker would get top billing.
Director Lewis Allen was hired from Paramount and Columbia made the deal with Small.
Although the film tried to recreate scenes from such Valentino classics as The Sheik, Blood and Sand, and some of his other films, it was a dud.
Even though they had fictionalized all characters (except Valentino) they ran into legal battles after the film was released. Silent star Alice Terry sued claimed she was depicted in the movie as Valentino’s costar having an illicit affair while still married. Valentino’s sister and brother also sued. It seemed movies about movie stars weren’t worth the gamble.