Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beyond the Rocks|
Actors: Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Edythe Chapman, Alec B. Francis, Robert Bolder
Director: Sam Wood
Genres: Classics, Drama
BEYOND THE ROCKS stars film legends Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino at the height of their careers and sexual appeal. This outstanding silent romance was long considered one of the great "lost" films from the Hollywoo... more »
OK Movie But Fantastic Extras.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 07/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After much fanfare in Europe and an arthouse release in America, BEYOND THE ROCKS has finally arrived on DVD. Had it featured no-name or forgotten silent era stars it wouldn't have made much noise and would have disappeared very quickly but with Valentino and Swanson on board you can clearly see the difference that a pair of Hollywood legends makes. Valentino in particular shows what a delicate and refined actor he could be when called on to do so. He does wonders with a character who is not given that much to do. Swanson gives it her best shot but her role differs little from her previous Cecil B. DeMille pictures and director Sam Wood doesn't have the DeMille touch with actresses. The film is good but not great but it's nice to have around especially in this restoration from the Netherlands Film Museum. There are a few rough spots and the tints are sometimes a little too intense but the overall result is very impressive. You get your choice of new background scores too. The 1919 Mae Murray vehicle THE DELICIOUS LITTLE DEVIL which is also included doesn't do much for Valentino but it shows Murray off to good advantage especially in some very revealing costumes that are quite racy for the time. The real reason to buy this disc is Gloria Swanson's 1955 recording about her life in the movies. Absolutely fascinating with sharp, witty and astute observations from someone who was actually there. Lots of other extras too."
Well worth the wait!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There has been a lot of excitement and anticipation about the release of this 1922 silent film which was believed lost, and Milestone has done a marvellous job of meeting our high expectations by presenting a second film and various fascinating bonus features on this DVD. "Beyond the Rocks" not only features the only pairing of two legendary silent screen stars, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino, but the story itself was written by another big name of the 1920s, namely Elinor Glyn, who also wrote the story for "It" - another famous silent film starring Clara Bow. Putting all these big names and talents together, it's no surprise that "Beyond the Rocks" was a much sought-after silent film for decades, hence the fuss over its unexpected discovery in the Netherlands in 2003. As one might expect from an Elinor Glyn story and the established screen roles of Valentino and Swanson, "Beyond the Rocks" is a nice, old-fashioned love story with style and sophistication. Swanson and Valentino play the lovers, but she is married to an older, wealthy man chosen by her family and she feels a duty to honour this `bargain'. Although the end may be predictable, the steps leading to it are not so clear, and there are a few little twists as the film reaches its climax, making it a good and entertaining story even apart from the star appeal of Valentino and Swanson. Needless to say, both exude their usual on-screen charms and sweep the audience away on their romantic adventure; starting from a quaint English village, to the Alps, Versailles and finally the Sahara Desert. There are only two segments lasting a few seconds where the film has irreparable damage; otherwise the picture quality is beautiful, and watching some of the bonus features which document the discovery and restoration work of this film, we can be thankful that it has come to us in this near-perfect condition.
I was also very pleased with the second film on this DVD, namely "The Delicious Little Devil" from 1919 in which Valentino stars opposite Mae Murray; another popular star of the silent era. While Valentino plays the usual appealing role of the lover, it is Mae Murray, in my opinion, who steals the show in this surprisingly entertaining film with her vibrant, energetic and expressive manner. The musical accompaniment chosen for each film is of a very high standard, and among the special bonus features, perhaps the most fascinating is an extensive recording of Gloria Swanson talking about her life; it plays instead of music to "Beyond the Rocks". All these things together make this Milestone release well worth the long wait for both silent film enthusiasts and anyone just curious to see these two screen legends together.
From Out of the Past
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 05/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film was featured at last year's silent film festival here at the Castro Theater in San Francisco following its discovery in 2002 in a Dutch film archive. What a treat! The restoration has been painstaking and beautifully done, and the new orchestral score is a work of art all by itself.
Paramount rarely paired its biggest stars, figuring each of them could tentpole a major feature all by themselves, and so usually a star like Valentino or Swanson would play opposite an up and comer, often of markedly inferior star status. Here is the glorious exception and yes, each of them brings out the very best in the other, though due to a curious trick of plot construction a third actor, Robert Bolder, gets to play the most affecting scenes. Theodora FitzGerald, a lovely, poor English lass, has lost her heart to the nobleman who rescues her from drowning one afternoon--he is Lord Hector Bracondale, who at first seems to go away and never think of her again, while she pines for him. Her two hectoring sisters urge her to marry a fat older man of the lower classes who has gone all nouveau riche and become a multi-millionaire, one of the richest principals in England. The two sisters say she owes it to her father--and the subtitles tell us that for Theodora, love of her father "is her religion." Swanson plays Theodora not so much as an English girl but as any girl who finds herself drawn to a man she must not have--Lord Hector, played by Valentino. No, he doesn't seem especially English either, but his exquisite dancer's bearing and his suave, kind manners give him a radiant, fresh beauty that tingles with hers. Swanson is absolutely gorgeous in the part, though she's saddled with heavy makeup like Alice Cooper, and a series of haute couture costumes that sometimes make her tiny figure look a bit on the waddling side--so unfair, when she probably weighed about, what, eighty-five pounds?
When Hector and Theodora are together the sparks fairly jump from the screen, and during some reels the ruined film stock looks as though the scenes are literally burning up from frame to frame--I suppose restoration can only go so far. Valentino's performance here is ungodly. I thought he was a figure of fun, the male vamp, but BEYOND THE ROCKS reveals a skilled actor who will remind you forcibly of someone like Gary Cooper. Odd that Sam Wood, the great US director who made BEYOND THE ROCKS, later worked with Cooper repeatedly (CASANOVA BROWN, PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, SARATOGA TRUNK) as though reinforcing his patent on this type, the quiet charmer with the steadfast heart and matching courage.
Josiah Brown, the vulgar millionaire whom Swanson marries, repels us at first with his louche displays of crassness, but the picture becomes ever so much more interesting when he develops into a three dimensional character as he finds out his wife has fallen for another man.
The lovers go to Versailles and fancy themselves in flashback as playing lovers of the era of Marie Antoinette. Has Sofia Coppola seen this picture? There are also flashbacks to ancient Egypt, just to add to the sense of madness about this movie. It's as though passion weren't enough--you have to have time travel, too.
As Josiah Brown decides to go on a Sahara expedition, the makeup people really do a number on him. He's fat anyhow, and in his desert costume he really looks exactly like the late Leigh Bowery, the Australian performance artist who starred in WIGSTOCK and posed for Lucian Freud. His balding scalp glows in the sun, the mascara on his hooded eyelids runs, his obese stomach shakes with remorse. It's like Divine playing Camille, and yet, somehow it all works and the movie will have you dissolved into its own recipe for melancholy. It seems that love always hurts, and to their astonishment, Swanson and Valentino must learn from the one they thought least likely to show them honest emotion.
PS, I love the one intertitle: "Ann not only calls on the Browns, she carries them off to Beachleigh, her country place, for Whitsuntide." Whitsuntide? Talk about ultra-British! It could be a new holiday for anglophile Madonna!"
Swanson's Plea is Answered!
Samantha Kelley | USA | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It isn't everyday that a silent movie with two wildly popular stars is found. What is even more exciting is that the movie is actually good, and that its DVD release is excellent.
Beyond the Rocks is a moody melodrama about a poor girl named Theodora (Gloria Swanson) who marries for money and position but truly loves another man (Rudolph Valentino). The two eventually reunite and carry on a love affair that seems destined for trouble. The story is trite and typical of writer Elinor Glyn, but the actors carry it well and there are enough exciting locations and small incidents to captivate an audience. The soundtrack is not perfect, and since the one with many sound effects annoyed many people, there is an option to see the film without them. However, the music provides a distinctive mood for the film. It is almost haunting, an appropriate score for a movie that has basically come back from the dead. The picture quality is rather good apart from a few sections which do not detract from the movie. Unfortunately, there is some footage missing including a pageant scene, which one can only imagine was quite steamy. Overall, though, we can watch Beyond the Rocks in delight not only for its existence but also for its quality.
The extra features include a segment about the discovery of the film and a bit about the man who owned it. We get to see film preservationists at work and hear about a real-life eccentric collector. There is also a still gallery, some Valentino film trailers, and a second feature film. A Delicious Little Devil stars Mae Murray as an innocent girl out of work who gets a job in a nightclub impersonating a high-class woman involved in a scandal overseas. Valentino stars as her love interest; he is quite handsome despite all of his makeup. Murray toggles between Pickford-esque innocence to an overdone vamp like Nazimova. The quality of the print is not great. There are many scratches and sometimes the picture is washed out. However, as an additional film, this condition is more acceptable.
In her autobiography, Swanson begged the public to check their closets and attics for copies of her lost films including this one. It is too bad she did not live to see such a discovery, but nonetheless her wish was fulfilled. Let us hope that the publicity garnered by the event will inspire others to check their attics as well."