Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


BEYOND THE ROCKS (1922). Director: Sam Wood.

Theodora Fitzgerald (Gloria Swanson) is married off to a much older man, Josiah Brown (Robert Bolder). He's kind to her, she's a good wife, but along comes Lord Bracondale (Rudolph Valentino, pictured) who falls for her and awakens in her strong feelings of romantic passion. Bracondale had saved Theodora's life on two previous occasions, making him not just romantic in her eyes but downright heroic. This triangle situation (based on a novel by Elinor Glyn) was probably nothing new even in 1922, but Beyond the Rocks is touching, beautifully acted by the three leads, especially Swanson, and has many memorable sequences, particularly the suspenseful scene when Theodora nearly falls off a cliff. Call it hokey and sentimental it you like, but it works. A new score by Henry Vrienten (as well as a few sound FX) adds immeasurably to the drama's emotional impact. Well photographed and directed as well.

Verdict: Good (mostly) silent show! ***1/2.

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