Beyond the Rocks (1922)

“Fate seems to send you to me when I most need you.”

Beyond the Rocks a 1922 silent film directed by Sam Wood was re-discovered in 2000 and restored by the Netherlands Filmmuseum. The film is irreparably damaged in a couple of spots–but for silent film lovers, this film is exquisite. The story–which concerns star-crossed lovers–is fairly standard, but it’s the sole screen teaming of two silent megastars–Gloria Swanson and Rudolf Valentino.

Theodora Fitzgerald (Gloria Swanson) is the third, and youngest daughter of an impoverished, retired guardsman. The fortunes of the family–including Theodora’s two spinster sisters–rest on Theodora. Everyone hopes that she will make a fine match with a wealthy man. When the film begins, a very young Theodora ventures out in a rowboat, and is saved from drowning by Lord Bracondale (Rudolf Valentino). The meeting is a significant one, but they part. Years later, Theodora is married off to the elderly millionaire Josiah Brown (Robert Bolder), and while on a honeymoon in the Swiss Alps, Theodore reconnects with Bracondale….

Beyond the Rocks is an epic love story–beginning in Dorset, England, and then traversing to Switzerland, France, London, and then to the violence of the desert sands of the Sahara. Even though Valentino has some great heroic scenes as he rescues Theodora twice from certain death, this is largely Swanson’s film. The drama is marvelously, elegantly restrained, and the film is packaged together with a gorgeous score. DVD extras include: an introduction by Martin Scorsese, a stills gallery, a 54-minute film The Delicious Little Devil starring Valentino, a recording of Swanson from 1955, and various interviews and articles detailing the film restoration. For silent film lovers, or Swanson/Valentino fans, Beyond the Rocks is a lost treasure.

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Filed under Rudolf Valentino, Silent

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