A long-lost 1922 silent film starring Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson, Beyond the Rocks, will receive its U.S. re-premiere with live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla at the motion picture Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, November 29.
Made when Valentino was at the apex of his fame as the screen’s quintessential Latin lover and Swanson was the personification of Hollywood glamour, Beyond the Rocks is the only film in which the two starred together.
A melodrama produced by Jesse L. Lasky and directed by Sam Wood about the impossible love between Lord Hector Bracondale (Valentino) and Theodora Fitzgerald (Swanson), who marries a much older millionaire for the sake of her father but is smitten with Valentino on her honeymoon, the film is based on the novel by Elinor Glyn.
Presumed lost for over 75 years, the first fragments of Beyond the Rocks turned up several years ago in a private collection left to the Nederlands Filmmuseum. A search through hundreds of rusty cans yielded six reels, and at the end of 2003 the last missing pieces were discovered. The English intertitles (printed narration or portion of dialogue flashed on the screen between the scenes of a silent film) and original color tints were restored using a list of the original intertitles and a 32-page “continuity script,” which were housed in the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
The restoration was supervised by Giovanna Fossati and researched by Elif Rongen-Kaynakci of the Nederlands Filmmuseum.
Valentino was born in 1895 to a middle-class Italian family, moved to New York in 1913 and became a huge star in the early 1920s for his steamy romantic performances. He died in 1926 following complications from a perforated ulcer.