Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The (1921): Valentino and Tango in Rex Ingram’s Silent Epic

In 1962, Vincente Minnelli remade the famous silent spectacle of 1921, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse starring Valentino in an iconic performance, highlighted by a legendary tango scene that audiences talked about for years..

Based on the Blasco Ibanez novel, this anti-war message saga of cousins who end up fighting on opposite sides during WWI is necessarily grim but powerful in imagery.

Madariaga, Argentinian cattle baron, has two daughters: one married a Frenchman, the other a German. Madariaga favors his French grandson Julio as his heir, but Julio is a wastrel and a rake whose dubious achievement is excellence in tangoing.

When Madariaga dies, his fortune is split between his daughters. The German side of the family goes back to Berlin, while the French half moves to Paris, where Julio becomes a painter and falls in love with Marguerite, a married woman.

When WWI explodes (described by the mystic Tchernoff as the coming Apocalypse), and Marguerite’s husband is blinded, Julio joins the army, and becomes a reformed character. But it also means that Julio must face his own cousin on the battlefield.



Pomeroy Cannon…. Madariaga, the Centaur

Josef Swickard…. Marcelo Desnoyers

Bridgetta Clark…. Dona Luisa

Rudolph Valentino…. Julio Desnoyers

Virginia Warwick…. Chichi

Alan Hale…. Karl von Hartrott

Mabel Van Buren…. Elena

Stuart Holmes…. Captain von Hartrott

John St. Polis…. Etienne Laurier

Alice Terry…. Marguerite Lurier

Mark Fenton…. Senator Lacour

Derek Ghent…. Rene Lacour

Nigel De Brulier…. Tchernoff

Bowditch M. Turner…. Argensola

Edward Connelly…. Lodgekeeper



Running time: 114 minutes  (also 150 minutes)

Black and White


Directed by Rex Ingram

Writing: Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, June Mathis