Beyond the Rocks (1922)

  Adapted from a potboiler by Elinor Glyn, BEYOND THE ROCKS
(1922) marked the only on screen teaming of two of silent films'
biggest stars: Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. Thought
to be among the myriad of "lost" movies from the time period, a
print was discovered in a private collection in The Netherlands in
April 2003. After an intense period of restoration by the
Netherlands Film Museum, BEYOND THE ROCKS was screened in
2005 at the
Cannes Film Festival and then played in selected cities.
The film was shown on
Turner Classic Movies in May 2006 before
its release on DVD by
Milestone Film & Video.

  As Martin Scorsese points out in his filmed introduction
included on the DVD, anytime a lost film is recovered it serves
to add to the collective memory that is cinema.
hardly ranks as a masterpiece of silent cinema, but it is a curiosity
because of its stars. Glyn's novel was certainly of its time and
the film is appropriately melodramatic, moving as it does from
England to an Alpine hotel to British country estates to
a denouement in North Africa.

  The plot revolves around Theodora Fitzgerald (Swanson), the
youngest daughter of a retired captain (Alec B. Francis), and her
arranged marriage to her father's friend, the wealthy Josiah Brown
(Robert Bolder). Complicating matters is her attraction to Hector
Balcondale (Valentino), a British Lord who always seems to turn
up just when Theodora needs him to save her. They meet when he
rescues her from a capsized rowboat and he later comes to her aid
when she tumbles off the side of a mountain while hiking on her
honeymoon. Although the two leads don't strike the kind of sparks
that other silent actors did (like John Gilbert and Greta Garbo
FLESH AND  THE DEVIL), it still is a treat to see the pair in
the same film.

Rating:                B
Running time:      81 mins.

  The DVD transfer is fine, although one section of the negative
has suffered the ravages of time. Henry Vrienten's newly created
orchestral score works beautifully and there are scores of extra
material including a 1955 recording of Gloria Swanson, a 1919 silent
THE DELICIOUS LITTLE DEVIL, starring Valentino and Mae Murray,
and a featurette on the restoration.
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.