Rex Ingram, of his true name Reginald Fitchcock, son of a minister, left Ireland for the United States in 1911 and, engaged by the MGM company, he became one of the most famous film directors of silent movies. He will later inspire Scott Fitzgerald for the hero of Tender is the night. With his first big success, the Four riders of the Apocalypse ( 1921 ), he launched as actors his wife Alice Terry ( 1901-1987 ) and Rudolf Valentino. His personality made of perfectionism, taste for technical innovations, realism, can be seen in his films, Eugénie Grandet, Zenda's prisoner, Scaramouche which revealed a new star, Ramon Novarro. In 1924, Ingram, suspicious towards the leaders of the Metro, whom he considered too keen on financial concerns to the detriment of art, came to Nice to film Mare nostrum . On this occasion , he took the control of the studios de la Victorine which he enlarged and modernized. Refusing to return to Hollywood, in spite of the reminders of his producers who blamed him for the excessive cost of his productions, he stayed in Nice where he filmed the Magician ( 1926 ), Allah's garden ( 1927 ), the Three passions ( 1928 ). At odds with the MGM which did not see out his contract, perturbed by the advent of the speaking movie which knocked down his conceptions centred on the visual effect, too much absorbed by his work to dedicate himself to the management of La Victorine, he met difficulties and abandoned the managemen of the studios. His last film, Fighting ( 1931 ) the leading part of which he interpreted was a failure. Converted to Islam, Ingram stayed a time in Egypt, then he went back to the United States where he did not film any more.

Prédal René : Rex Ingram, Anthologie du cinéma, Paris, 1971.

Ralph SCHOR

 

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