It might not have done very well at the box office, but it's such a reflection of the times it was made in (late '70s). The sexuality is important, because they don't make films like this anymore. There's a lot of overacting in general which makes things seem a bit surreal, but that's Russell's style (Tommy, Lisztomania). Nureyev and Carol Kane acquit themselves quite well.
Valentino might be thought of as the last Ken Russell film. It maintains his previous grandiosity while hinting at the many ways he would fall short of his potential in the years to come. Tragic but touching. Crazy but human.
Beautiful production values and a sense of period that practically drips from the screen cannot lift this stilted deadweight into the realms of camp (try as it might with a misfiring Caron) let alone a satisfying drama. A shame, considering the promise of the story. A stolid lead, episodic structure and little emotional connection do not help and it's maybe best viewed as a series of vignettes on old Hollywood.
Far from Russell's best, but it's an extremely entertaining mess of a movie. Rudolf Nureyev is not the greatest actor, but brings an offbeat energy to the role to keep up with the over-the-top supporting cast. The plot is muddled, but with lavish production design, and plenty of memorably bizarre set pieces, those who appreciate Russell's excessive eccentricities will find this a very satisfying effort.