Rudolph Valentine still smoldering on big screen

Rudolph Valentino starred alongside Vilma Banky in the silent film classic “The Eagle,” a 1925 romantic drama to screen at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton.

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WILTON — The smoldering Rudolph Valentino was cinema’s first sex symbol, bringing a new level of exotic sexuality to the movies, and leading to mob scenes at his New York City funeral in 1926.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, one of Valentino’s most acclaimed films will be screened with live music at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St.

The silent film “The Eagle” (1925), a racy story set in Czarist Russia, proved to be one of his most popular features. Based on the novel “Dubrovsky” by Alexander Pushkin, “The Eagle” casts Valentino as a lieutenant and expert horseman in the Russian army who catches the eye of Czarina Catherine II. After he rejects her advances and flees, she puts out a warrant for his arrest, dead or alive. When he learns that his father has been persecuted and killed in his hometown, he dons a black mask and becomes an outlaw, finding unexpected romance along the way.

An Italian immigrant who arrived penniless at Ellis Island in 1913, Valentino rose to superstar status across the world with a series of silent pictures. “The Eagle” was Valentino’s next-to-last film, released the year before his unexpected death at age 31 from complications from peritonitis.

“The Eagle” will be screened against a live score played by local composer Jeff Rapsis.

Suggested admission fee to the screening is $5. Visit wiltontownhalltheatre.com or call 654-3456 for more information.