Beyond the Rocks

USA 1922

Sam Wood’s recently rediscovered film captures two of the biggest stars of the silent screen, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino, in what remains the only film where the pair appear together. Cast as would-be lovers in a gloriously doomed romantic affair, she plays a habitual clotheshorse, showcasing numerous glamorous gowns, while he cuts a picture of elegance in a wardrobe designed by his then lover Natacha Rambova. Among the film’s sartorial highlights are its resplendent eighteenth-century sequences, devised very much in the style of Wood’s mentor Cecil B. DeMille. Here secret desires of the heart play out among a lavish atmosphere of excess and erotic permissiveness, conjuring the gallants and marquises of the past in their ‘stately games of love’.

USA 1922. Dir. Sam Wood. With Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Edythe Chapman. Valentino’s costumes by Natacha Rambova.