04 Feb

Argentine Tango danced by Anthony Dexter and Patricia Medina in Valentino (1951)


This is the full scene featuring the famous Argentine Tango from Valentino (1951), starring Anthony Dexter and Patricia Medina. Dexter, a virtual lookalike to the real Rudolph Valentino, was a dancer in real life. Unlike today’s refined “ballroom tango,” this tango makes use of a whip in the opening and closing moments, and Dexter is wearing real spurs. The original tango was often passionate and savage, and evolved in the barios of South America in the mid to late 1800s. It eventually became a popular salon dance in Victorian society.

No other tango sequence has matched the brilliant choreography found in this scene from the 1951 film. It has never yet been recreated for any other film or in live performance. The dancing part of the scene was likely filmed in one take, using a number of cameras for the angles and kinds of shots.

In mid-dance, Anthony Dexter as the gaucho appears to pull a few unrehearsed moves, and the surprise can clearly be seen on Patricia’s face. As good a dancer as he was, Dexter was able to bring all the steps together with perfect timing, and they concluded the dance with another unique and original move, ending with a kiss.

The cast:
Anthony Dexter as Rudolph Valentino
Eleanor Parker as Joan Carlisle / Sarah Gray
Richard Carlson as William ‘Bill’ King
Patricia Medina as Lila Reyes
Joseph Calleia as Luigi Verducci
Dona Drake as Maria Torres
Lloyd Gough as Eddie Morgan
Otto Kruger as Mark Towers

The song, considered to be the tango of all tangos:
La Cumparsita


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