Tyrone Power & Annabella in BLOOD AND SAND – 1941 Live!

We will be visiting the Twentieth Century-Fox studios in our next post for a promised Hollywood party. But leading up to it, let’s check out one of the most beautiful films this studio produced during the Golden Age.

BLOOD AND SAND, or Sangue y Arena to use its original Spanish title, was an international best selling novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez in 1908. Your blogmeister read this book recently (as a free ebook) and found this century-old tale quite contemporary. In effect, the matadors of yesteryear were the rock stars of their day. The story of the rise and fall of a young matador was a natural vehicle for Rudolph Valentino in 1922, following on the heels of his breakthrough film, THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE (1921), which was also based on an Ibanez novel. A generation later, this story of the bullring was refurbished for Tyrone Power and given the Technicolor treatment. Here is an original poster for its Spanish release:

This morality tale was as big a hit with audiences in 1941 as the Valentino version had been two decades earlier. Within only a few months of its premiere, Tyrone Power and his actress wife, Annabella, reported to the Lux Radio Theater to perform an adaptation for millions of listeners worldwide. Just click on the arrow below to hear the complete hour-long live broadcast of October 20, 1941:

Tyrone Power had successfully starred in the remake of Doug Fairbanks’ 1920 hit, MARK OF ZORRO, the year before in 1940. So playing Juan Gallardo, the ill-fated matador of BLOOD AND SAND, seemed a no-brainer – and it was:

Annabella played the role that Linda Darnell had in the film, the sweet but long-suffering Carmen, wife of the unfaithful Juan. Here she is in a boyish role for SUEZ (1938):

Annabella met Tyrone Power during the making of SUEZ and they married shortly afterwards. Here they are with Loretta Young on the right in SUEZ:

Young Gallardo is flush with his new-found success and is easily infatuated by femme fatale Dona Sol, played by Rita Hayworth:

Success in the bullring brings other distractions, especially when Juan’s Friend, Manolo, played by Anthony Quinn, becomes his rival:

Hayworth’s role as the seductress was her big break and thereafter she seemed to play a variation of Dona Sol in most of her subsequent films through the 1950s:

Ernest Hemingway memorably called the sport of bullfighting “death in the afternoon,” usually death for the bull, sometimes death for the matador, sometimes for both:

Carmen decides to visit Dona Sol to ask if there’s any truth to the gossip about her relationship with Juan. Alas, Carmen finds him living with her:

Things begin to turn ugly as he hears gossip:

The 1941 BLOOD AND SAND is available on dvd and is easily one of the best Technicolor films you will ever see. Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 version is also available on dvd and holds up very well against its talkie remake. The Valentino charisma helps enormously:

Rudy with director Fred Niblo on the set. Check out Rudy’s costume:

Does this look familiar? Yes, it’s Rudy’s costume as it exists today. Your blogmeister only guessed at the color when I colorized the photo above sometime ago but we came fairly close:

BONUS: Rudolph Valentino Sings! Rudy died in 1926 just before sound films arrived so how well he would have fared in talkies will always be one of the great “ifs” of film history. However, Rudy did leave us two sound recordings that he made in May 1923. He sings in both so we still don’t really know how well his speaking voice sounded or, indeed, how well he spoke English. At any rate, this is one of them:

Valentino as Juan Gallardo enjoying his fleeting success:

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