The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a 1921 silent movie produced by Metro Pictures Corporation, adapted by June Mathis, directed by Rex Ingram and starring Rudolph Valentino, Pomeroy Cannon, Josef Swickard, Wallace Beery, and Alice Terry. It was based on the novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.
The film had a huge cultural impact, becoming the top grossing film of 1921 beating out Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, and going on to become the sixth best grossing silent film of all time. The film turned then little known actor Rudolph Valentino into a super star and associated him with the image of the 'Latin Lover'. The film also inspired a tango craze and such fashion fads as gaucho pants. The film was masterminded by June Mathis, who with its success became one of the most powerful women in Hollywood at the time.
The 1921 film is a fictional story inspired by the history of World War I. Madariaga "The Centaur" (Pomeroy Cannon), a harsh but popular Argentine landowner, has a German son-in-law whom he dislikes and a French one whose family he openly favors. He is particularly fond of his grandson Julio (Rudolph Valentino), with whom he often carouses at seedy dives in the Boca district of Buenos Aires. In one of these bars, the movie's famous tango sequence occurs. A man and a woman are dancing the tango. Julio strides up and asks to cut in. The woman stares at Julio alluringly. The man brushes him off, and they resume dancing. Julio then challenges the man and strikes him, knocking him into some tables and out of the scene. Julio and the woman then dance a dramatic version of the tango that brings cheers from the people in the establishment. Following the dance, the woman sits on Julio's lap. Madariaga then slides to the floor, drunk. The woman laughs at Madariaga. Julio casts her aside in scorn and helps his grandfather home.
Sometime later, Madariaga dies. The extended family breaks up, one half returning to Germany and the other to France. In Paris, Julio enjoys a somewhat shiftless life as a would-be artist and sensation at the local tea dances. He falls in love with Marguerite Laurier (Alice Terry), the unhappy and much younger wife of Etienne Laurier, a friend of Julio's father. The affair is discovered, and Marguerite's husband agrees to give her a divorce. It seems as though Julio and Marguerite will be able to marry, but both end up getting caught up in the Great War.
Marguerite becomes a nurse in Lourdes. The bravery of Etienne is reported, and he is blinded in battle. Etienne happens to end up at the hospital where she is working, and Marguerite attends to him there. Julio travels to Lourdes to see Marguerite and instead sees her taking care of Etienne. Julio, ashamed of his wastrel life, enlists in the French Army.
The German Army overruns Julio's father Marcelo's Marne Valley castle in the First Battle of the Marne. Marcelo is forced to host a German general and staff in the castle. Marcelo's German nephew is amongst the staff and tries to protect him, but Marcelo is arrested after a melee involving an officer's assault of a woman. Marcello is to be executed in the morning, but his life is spared when the French Army counterattacks in the "Miracle of the Marne". Julio becomes renowned for his bravery in the trenches on the front. During a mission in no man's land, he recognizes his German cousin. Moments later they are both killed by a shell. Back in Paris, Marguerite considers abandoning the blinded Etienne, but Julio's ghost guides her to continue her care for him. Both families mourn for their fallen sons as the film ends
Pomeroy Cannon as Madariaga
Josef Swickard as Marcelo Desnoyers
Bridgetta Clark as Doña Luisa
Rudolph Valentino as Julio Desnoyers
Virginia Warwick as Chichí
Alan Hale Karl von Hartrott
Mabel Van Buren as Elena
Stuart Holmes as Otto von Hartrott
John St. Polis (listed as John Sainpolis) as Etienne Laurier
Alice Terry as Marguerite Laurier
Mark Fenton as Senator Lacour
Derek Ghent as René Lacour
Nigel De Brulier as Tchernoff
Bowditch M. Turner as Argensola
Edward Connelly as Lodgekeeper
Wallace Beery as Lieut. Col. von Richthosen
Harry Northrup as The General
Arthur Hoyt as Lieut. Schnitz