When my biography of Valentino was first optioned for a film, then moved to the next stage, two names were put forward to play him on the screen. One was Gabriel Garko, whom I initially thought a little too old, and who I had raved about in "Forever Callas". Garko had no problems with the man-to-man love scenes. There's no sex in the screenplay, and only the very briefest brushing of lips--it's not necessary to see Rudy and his lovers "in action", as romance is the order of the day. Films take an age to develop. We still have our Rambova and Nazimova in reserve, but so far no Valentino or André Daven, the great love of his life. There was a young Argentinian actor, but he has moved on to a different vocation.
Having seen most of "The Legend Of Rudy", its provisional English title when it is dubbed for English-speaking audiences, I am impressed. The ending is naff, I have to admit, as it has him dropping dead in the recording studio while performing a Milva song. The rest of the film is what one comes to expect with today's biopics and television movies. In "La Vie En Rose" there was no mention of the war, and neither of Piaf's husbands were seen. In "Robin Hood" we had a black Friar Tuck, and a black actress played Guinevere in "Merlin". It's all to do with equality, and I agree that it's a good thing. One of the staunchest critics of the Garko film is Sabrina Ferelli, so I here--whose interpretation of Dalida left much to be desired, though the chap playing Luigi Tenco (a role Garko allegedly turned down) is inspiring.
On the other side of the coin, still with the Valentino film, there is now interest in committing his fictional nemesis, Nancy Sphinctergritzel, to celluloid. Just how that one will pan out amuses me, as we Brits (and we Frenchies, as I am both and have a dual passport) love nothing more than spoofs. We gave the world Spitting Image" and "Monty Python", therefore a one-eyed, tattooed, metal-pierced centenarian nymphomaniac with one leg shorter than the other might just go down a treat. All we need is a 75-pound Dandy Nichols-style actress to play her! The family are displeased, but when did I ever care about them!
As for Mr Garko, I feel that I owe him an apology for doubting him in what could well be the defining role of his career. He was certainly made very welcome in Valentino's home town a few weeks ago--and if they're as proud of him as they were of their boy, that's good enough for me!