19 April 2008 | gftbiloxi
Interesting But Excessively Slow Valentio Film
The 1925 COBRA was among Valentino's last films--and it tends to divide the star's fans, who either rejoice at his appearance in a realistic drama or yearn for something that rivals his earlier, often outrageous seductive melodramas.
The story concerns Count Rodrigo Torriani (Valentino), an impoverished Italian nobleman with a penchant for torrid affairs that lead to endless and often monetary difficulties. Largely in order to escape such difficulties, Rodrigo agrees to work for American antiques dealer Jack Dorning (Casson Ferguson)--only to find himself little better off in New York, where he wavers between office secretary Mary Drake (Gertrude Olmstead) and Jack's femme fatale wife Elise (Nita Naldi.) In a stylistic sense, COBRA shows what Valentino could do as an actor when he was not encumbered by the usual "great seducer" scripts pressed upon him--and he acquits himself very well. The supporting cast, most particularly Naldi, is also excellent. But there is no two ways about it: COBRA is so low-key that it feels excessively slow as it moves toward its none-too-surprising conclusion.
The film itself is beautiful to the eye. Valentino is very close to the height of his physical appeal and Naldi is stunningly beautiful in a series of Adrian-designed gowns; the art direction by William Cameron Menzies is excellent, and the cinematography by Fischbeck and Jennings has a velvety quality that is quite fine. Even so, and with a running time of just over an hour, COBRA feels excessively languid in tone. The DVD offers a handsome transfer and good music score, but little else. Recommended--but primarily for hardcore Valentino fans.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer