Rudolph Valentino's first independent production, Cobra, was released less than a year prior to the actor's untimely death at age 31. It is an unusual and contradictory showcase for the actor who is remembered more than any other as the icon of irresistible sexuality in Hollywood silent film. Beleaguered by women in his native land, a promiscuous Italian Count, Rodrigo Torriani (Valentino) escapes to New York to work for an elegant antiques dealer specializing in Italian objets d'art. The ambitious young man cannot suppress the Don Giovanni within himself and he is soon embroiled in a new series of romantic entanglements with secretaries, husband hunters and extortionists. But when his best friend's new wife captures suave Torriani in her cobra-like gaze, he reforms just in time to avoid disgrace and even death-by-fire. Cobra truly represents the visual richness of silent cinema at its peak. At the center of it all is Valentino, charming and photogenically resplendent. Even with his stunning looks, Valentino's appeal as the Great Lover, enacted according to conventions of the 1920s, is often difficult for modern audiences to fathom. By contrast, his far more restrained performance in Cobra makes this film more accessible today than the great hits upon which the star's reputation was built.