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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse


This is the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a star. Written by June Mathis it was released in 1921 and was the best selling movie of that year. It went on to tbe th 6th best selling silent of all time, and at one point it was likely the highest grossing movie of all time due to rereleases (it was bumped by Gone with the Wind's release). For more info about the film and production please see
This film will also hopefully screen at

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) is an American silent film epic film war film produced by Metro Pictures and directed by Rex Ingram (director). Based on the Spanish novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Spanish novel) by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, it was adapted for the screen by June Mathis. The film stars Pomeroy Cannon, Josef Swickard, Bridgetta Clark, Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Beery, and Alice Terry. </> The film turned then-little-known actor Rudolph Valentino into a superstar and associated him with the image of the Latin Lover. The film also inspired a tango craze and such fashion fads as gaucho pants.


File:The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921).webm
Madariaga "The Centaur" (Pomeroy Cannon), a harsh but popular Argentina landowner, has a Germany son-in-law whom he dislikes and a France 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 (dance) 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 (German Empire) 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 "First Battle of the Marne".
Julio becomes renowned for his bravery in the Trench warfare 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.
File:Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.jpg


  • 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, Sr. as Karl von Hartrott
  • Mabel Van Buren as Elena
  • Stuart Holmes as Otto von Hartrott
  • John St. Polis 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


In 1919, screenwriter June Mathis became head of the scenario department for Metro Pictures. Mathis had seen a young actor named Rudolph Valentino in a bit part of a Clara Kimball Young film, Eyes of Youth, in 1919.< name="botham"></>< name="Rambova"></> Valentino had arrived in Hollywood in 1918, where he had worked in many B movies, including All Night with Carmel Myers and The Delicious Little Devil with Mae Murray. However, Mathis got her way, and after seeing the rushes, she and Ingram decided to expand the role of Julio to showcase the talents of Valentino. Valentino had worked as a taxi dancer during his time in New York. To show off his dancing skills, the tango scene was included, though it was not part of the original story.
Alice Terry, a former Follies Girl, was cast as Julio's lover, Marguerite. She would marry Ingram that same year.
Metro paid Ibanez $20,000 and 10% of the gross earnings for the rights to adapt his novel.</>
The film made Mathis one of the most powerful and respected women in Hollywood, said to be only second to Mary Pickford.

Adaptations and remakes

  • The film was remade as Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (film) (1962), with the setting changed to World War II. Vincente Minnelli was the director.
  • In popular culture

  • The tango sequence was parodied by Gene Wilder during the opening credits of The World's Greatest Lover (1977).
  • See also

    • List of highest-grossing films
    • National Film Registry


    Category:1921 films
    Category:1920s romantic drama films
    Category:1920s war films
    Category:American epic films
    Category:American romantic drama films
    Category:American silent feature films
    Category:American war films
    Category:Anti-war films about World War I
    Category:Anti-war films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Films based on Spanish novels
    Category:Films directed by Rex Ingram
    Category:Films shot in Los Angeles, California
    Category:Metro Pictures films
    Category:United States National Film Registry films
    Category:Western Front films (World War I)
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