photo: University of Texas, Austin, and Milestone Films
Swanson and Valentino, left
Beyond the Rocks
A minor miracle, this newly restored, long-lost 1922 silent was discovered a few years ago, nearly complete, in a Dutch collection. Beyond the Rocks was based on a novel by chick-lit pioneer Elinor Glyn and directed by Cecil B. DeMille's then protégé Sam Wood, but what makes the occasion is the dream pairing of Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. Queen of the Paramount lot, Swanson was by far the bigger star at the time and, although only 25, does seem a bit of a hard-faced floozy for the role of the ingenue; Rudy, who had just made The Sheik, is a bit soft by contrast, but a total natural. Swanson's outfits aside, this sub-DeMillean romance of adultery (not) isn't vintage-'20s exotic, but after dawdling in a succession of English drawing rooms and country gardens, it climbs the Alps, with everyone converging mid Sahara. Extras include two versions of the score; a 1919 Valentino feature, The Delicious Little Devil; and an introduction by Martin Scorsese.