Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 1:22 pm 
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A special event at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, October 5, 2005.

A moment, but no masterpiece

Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Velentino at the peak of their careers starring together for the only time in a hitherto lost title from Hollywood's great age of silent film: that's Sam wood's 1922 Beyond the Rocks. Yes, it's a thrill to see this elaborate production discovered at the Dutch Film Museum and digitally restored a couple of years ago. But bear in mind that both author Eleanor Glyn and director Wood are forgotten today not without reason. This story of the daughter of impoverished English aristocrats who's forced to marry a rich, fat old man -- when of course she prefers Rudolph Valentino -- is corny. The stagy accidents -- a near-drowning and a fall off a cliff in the Alps -- where Valentino (as the playboy Lord Bracondale) just happens to save Gloria -- are even cornier.

But if the charm of Ms. Swanson and the good looks of Mr. Valentino don't slay you, perhaps their wardrobes will. He has as many different pretty outfits as she, and you can see how the hoi polloi came to the pictures just to dream. A nice thing about the movie, which is conventional but not simplistic, is that the unattractive husband, the self-made millionaire Josiah Brown (Robert Bolder), is actually a sweet man who dies heroically, in effect giving his life in the Sahara so Valentino and Swanson can live their love.

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┬ęChris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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