Rod La Rocque — Rod Takes the Bitter with the Sweet (1927) 🇺🇸

Rod La Rocque — Rod Takes the Bitter with the Sweet (1927) |

January 09, 2024

Just four years ago I was sent out to interview a new and practically unknown player. Cecil De Mille had given him a gripping, dramatic role in ‘‘The Ten Commandments,” and the public was beginning to ask, “Who is this Rod La Rocque?”

by Katherine Lipke

At that time there wasn’t much to tell. Pre-DeMille information on Rod was scarce. In the film world he was an immensely unimportant person. Two leads with Mae Murray were his chief claims to credit — and every one knows how meager playing with Mae can be.

But the release of the DeMille [Cecil B. DeMille] religious production changed all that. Within a few months the name of Rod La Rocque became of considerable importance in the film world. A tempestuous, likable fellow personally, he became very popular in Hollywood as well as with the fans.

Things have run fairly smoothly for Rod since then. There hasn’t been another Ten Commandments in which he could startle us with his dramatic fire, but neither has he had any decided reverses.

Now, in the role of Prince Dimitri in Edwin Carewe’s film version of Tolstoy’s Resurrection, Rod has reached another important milestone in his picture life. It would seem that his career is destined to run in cycles of four. He was twenty-four when De Mille discovered him. In the four years which have followed he has been featured in sixteen pictures.

Of these, four are worth mentioning, in his opinion — The Ten CommandmentsFeet of Clay, Gigolo, and Resurrection.

In these past four busy years, Rod personally has remained practically unchanged. He is much the same restless, laughing boy whom I interviewed before, with ideas on everything, a willingness to express them, a dynamic energy, an impish humor, a complete lack of pose.

There is just one difference. A little iron seems to have entered Rod’s soul. It crops out in satirical comments, bitter remarks. His indifference to Hollywood’s social life, in which he no longer takes any part, seems not his usual good-natured indifference, but a sharp cynical contempt.

“I go to none of these social affairs,” he said to me. “They do not interest me. I have my home with my father, mother, and sister. Occasionally, I invite a few friends to my own fireside.”

“Picture people?” I asked.

“If I have any friends in film circles, I don’t know it,” said Rod, with a bright and glittering smile. Yes, the iron is there!

A couple of years ago, Rod was a constant attendant at social gatherings in the colony. He was seen everywhere, at premieres and parties, with Pola Negri. They were always together. Now all that is changed. He now seldom appears in public, and almost never entertains outside his own home.

Matrimonially Rod is apparently immune. “I doubt if I will ever marry,” he announced with a grin. “I am not the type. Some men possess a positive gift for marriage. They survive one unfortunate venture only to plunge gayly into the next. Now, that would never do for me.

“And really, I haven’t the nature to make any one woman happy. Feeling as I do, it would be insanity for me to try. Marriage is a luxury I think I had better do without. I cannot conceive of myself as a married man.”

An unhappy marriage would probably wreck Rod. He is not one of those light and irresponsible men who can slip in and out of matrimony unscathed. For Rod holds himself responsible for everything he does. The blame he never tosses to any one else. It rests always on his own shoulders.

“It’s my fault and mine alone when things go smash,” he said. “I always realize that I ought to have had more sense in the first place. If I walk down a railroad track in front of an oncoming train.

I should know that I’m going to get hit. So why should I blame the train?

“Remember Cassius’ advice to Brutus in ‘Julius Caesar?’ ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’ That is one of my favorite lines. It exactly expresses my view of life. I tell you, old Shakespeare had the right idea.”

When Rod fails, then Rod takes the blame. This is the theory on which he lives.

Personally, I admire his courage in facing everything with shoulders back and a grin on his face. And, the more I admire him, the more I hope that, if ever he breaks his resolve not to marry, he will have the good fortune to choose well, for an unhappy venture would shake him to the base of his being.

He has two interesting hobbies. One is painting and the other is chemistry. In his Beverly Hills home there is a tiny chemical laboratory where he spends much of his time making experiments.

There is a sort of explosive energy in Rod’s make-up. He always seems about to emit a roar of pent-up steam. He is never the bored and limp picture star sauntering through a role. He looks rather like an amiable giant looking for something to hurl, in the sheer exuberance of living.

No director ever has to work Rod up to a dramatic situation. Instead, he has to be calmed down, lest he break up the furniture or wreck the leading lady.

Resurrection is an important milestone in his career. Not only does it provide him with a great dramatic role, but it is his fourth good picture in four years and, as four seems to be a significant number for Rod, this should be a lucky sign.

Rod La Rocque — Rod Takes the Bitter with the Sweet (1927) |


Rod La Rocque — Rod Takes the Bitter with the Sweet (1927) |


Rod La Rocque — Rod Takes the Bitter with the Sweet (1927) |

Though the past four years have brought great success to Rod La Rocque, they also seem to have embittered him a little, says Katherine Lipke in the story on the opposite page.

Photo by: Melbourne Spurr (1888–1964)

Collection: Picture Play Magazine, June 1927