Welcome to the Rex Ingram website!
This site is part of a project to celebrate the life and work of one of Hollywood’s greatest silent era directors, the Irish exile, Rex Ingram.
Best known now for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), this handsome, strong-willed visionary was responsible for a succession of films for Metro Pictures, later M-G-M, that topped the box office and were hailed as masterpieces by the critics.
At the height of his fame, he was ranked alongside D.W. Griffith, Marshall Neilan and Erich von Stroheim (who invited Ingram to edit his doomed original version of Greed in 1924) as one of the foremost artists of the moving pictures. He made a star of Valentino and, when they fell out, found a new heartthrob in Ramon Novarro, who debuted with Ingram in The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) and remained loyal to his mentor to the end of his days. Rex’s second marriage, to Alice Terry, saw him cast her in the lead in all but one of his films.
On set, he was a perfectionist – every detail, down to the tiniest spider’s web had to be correct. If the film was in French, then the cast were to speak their lines in French (although no one would ever hear them). Diners in restaurants watched as napkin after napkin was sacrificed to his sketches of scenes and characters; actors were cast because they looked the part. Many were drawn from his colourful circle of friends and fellow artists, particularly in his later career, after he had fallen out of love with Hollywood and moved his entire production team to the Victorine Studios in the South of France. There he continued to make his baroque, romantic melodramas, now regularly set in North Africa, finishing with Baroud (aka Love in Morocco) in 1932.
Rex Ingram retired from filmmaking when talking pictures usurped his art, but his influence lived on. The young man who served as his apprentice at the Victorine went on to become another great artist of the cinema – Michael Powell never failed to credit Rex as one of his most enduring influences. Another of his devotees was David Lean. F. Scott Fitzgerald fictionalized him in his writings and James Joyce dropped a reference to him in to Finnegans Wake, where he appears as “Rex Ingram, pageant-master”.
When David Gill and Kevin Brownlow restored The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1993, a new generation of film lovers rediscovered Rex Ingram’s great film. By then Liam O’Leary’s pioneering study, Rex Ingram: Master of the Silent Cinema, had also been published. We hope that this site will give those fans, old and new, and many others, the chance to find out more about this brilliant filmmaker and allow us to celebrate his legacy together, in images and words.
We will be adding in more pictures and resources, so keep checking back!