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Robert Z. Leonard
Harry L. Rattenberry
Love, duty, and the scent of narcissus. Theodora, a young and penniless aristocrat, marries a much older man, self-made millionaire grocer Josiah Brown, so that her father and spinster sisters can live comfortably. Soon after the wedding, she finds herself falling in love with Hector, the Tenth Earl of Bracondale, a playboy she encounters on the social circuit of the very rich -- in the Swiss Alps, Paris, London, and the English countryside. Hector is attracted to her as well. Theodora must choose between love and duty, and then Josiah and Hector must make choices of their own. Written by
Lost for most of the 20th century, a copy of this film was discovered in April 2003 in Haarlem (The Netherlands) in a private collection. It was restored by the Nederlands Film Museum and the Hagheflim Conservation and was screened in 2005, complete with English dialogue screens in place of the original Dutch, at the Cannes film festival. It made its television debut on May 21, 2006, on Turner Classic Movies as part of a nine-film tribute to Rudolph Valentino. See more »
When Husein Ben Ali and his men are being chased away by the soldiers, a crew member steps in front of the camera during the wide shot of the scene. See more »
Picture, actors & story better than I had been told, sound effects more distracting than I had been warned.
I've loved silent films for years so I'm not your average film viewer, I watch as many as I can find because they're to too rare and usually uniquely entertaining. Beyond the Rocks is not your typical silent in that is the only pairing of stars two of the brightest stars in what was a lost but not forgotten film. It was only forgotten because it was lost for 80years but after the discovery in the Netherlands we finally have a chance to see it for ourselves. I first want to applaud them and all their hard work as I would any archivist in their efforts to make history available to all of us.
I had read some of the many reviews on the IMDb, and after seeing it, the reviews are quite funny. One reviewer writes how Valentino walks away with the film but was not impressed by Swanson. Another finds Swanson radiant and Valentino stiff and inexpressive. And other's thought the film's costumes were the best part! I enjoyed it mostly because the actors had charm including the dumpy old rich husband that got in and then later out of the way. The story was typical meller-drama with our sympathies being first with drowning Swanson, then the dangling mountain climber Swanson, then the trapped in a poor family Swanson turned social climber stuck married to a chubby old man she didn't love Swanson.
Valentino and Swanson never really turn on the heat on high but after kismet (aka author/scriptwriter) has brought them together repeatedly they do simmer a little.
On the whole I enjoyed seeing the film on the big screen. The "digital restoration" turned out to be that the picture image pretty sharp and is rock steady instead of jumpy and jittery. It was a detailed image with sharp focus obviously made from a 35mm nitrate print. What continually struck me as being odd is that the film was filled with artifacts like spots, dirt, specks, blotches, scratches, tears, etc. I've seen several digitally restored titles where these minor image imperfections were removed. And I'm familiar with nitrate decomposition and what that looks like and there were a couple of sections where I understand it was a necessity to see/show that's all that has survived in the source material. But, it does not look like any effort was made to clean up or correct any of the wear throughout the print. Especially, the little lines on the left side of the image caused by those tiny, stress tears at sprocket holes that dance thru out the film. I realize a lot of people probably worked hard and much money was spent on making it look as good as it does, but if the lack of money or time was a problem then why spend too much on the excessive soundtrack? I've seen hundreds of silent films and they should be presented with music that matches/compliments the action. The presentation I saw used a new soundtrack especially made for this restoration and it was not a simply piano or music track using music in a style that would have been used at the films original release. Instead we heard boat and car motors running, the gravel getting crushed under the wheels of a moving car, doors opening & closing, every footstep, papers rustling, dogs painting, background crowd murmurings, envelopes being opened, every sound under the sun except the voices of the lead actors! UGH! These background effects did not compliment the action but constantly bring attention to them selves as unnecessary and intrusive! A proper silent era film presentation has the film accompanied by music of the era that is played live and the musician interprets the mood as it is presented on screen and blends it with the mood of that particular audience. This live mixing of projected larger than life image, live music and interactions of the audience create a recipe for cinema magic! And even though I have ranted on about how I disliked the sound effects that were added to this silent motion picture I did enjoy seeing the film and would not want to prevent anyone from seeing it any way they can. But I hope when it is released another/better soundtrack is offered/optioned on the DVD in case a customer has an experience like mine. My votes, film 7 out of 10, 1950s styled jazz music 4 out of 10 and distracting modern/faked sound effects -1 out of ten.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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