Introduced by Adrian Garvey, with live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne
A recent 2K digital restoration by EYE Filmmuseum Amsterdam.
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.
Adrian Garvey is a London-based film historian. His PhD on James Mason and film performance was completed in 2016. He recently contributed an essay on stardom in silent cinema for the Routledge Companion to British Cinema History (2017).
Stephen Horne is one of the leading silent film accompanists. A house pianist at London’s BFI Southbank for thirty years, he has played at all the major UK venues and recorded music for many DVD releases of silent films. Although principally a pianist, he often incorporates other instruments into his performances, sometimes simultaneously. His accompaniments have met with acclaim at film festivals internationally, from Pordenone and Bologna to San Francisco, Hong Kong, Telluride, and Cannes.