By Film Threat Staff | February 2, 2005

Milestone has partnered with the Nederlands Filmmuseum to handle the worldwide (outside of the Benelux territory) distribution of “Beyond the Rocks”, the recently rediscovered silent classic starring film legends Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. Long considered one of the great “lost” films from the Hollywood golden age, only a one-minute fragment was known to exist in the Nederlands Filmmuseum.

Milestone’s vice-president Dennis Doros negotiated the acquisition of “Beyond the Rocks” with Jan Rofekamp of Films Transit International, representing the Nederlands Filmmuseum. Doros is delighted to be releasing this remarkable find. “Milestone has a long tradition of unveiling great film discoveries to the cinema-going public. ‘Beyond the Rocks’, just for its star power alone, has been one of the most sought-after films of the silent era. We are thrilled to be working with the Nederlands Filmmuseum, one of the finest archives in the world, to showcase not only this wonderful movie, but also the remarkable work they do to uncover, preserve and restore cinema history.” The film will open theatrically throughout North America this year. Milestone’s Director of International Sales, Nadja Tennstedt, will work with distributors from around the world to release this silent classic in the international market. The company is also collaborating with the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Austin, Texas and its famed Gloria Swanson Collection to create a multitude of bonus features for a deluxe DVD release in early 2006.

Lost for over eighty years, film cataloguers at the Nederlands Filmmuseum were amazed to find the first two nitrate reels of “Beyond the Rocks” when inventorying a vast collection of nitrate bequeathed to them by a film collector from Haarlem. The Filmmuseum staff then searched for many tense months until they found and identified all the missing reels of the film. “Beyond the Rocks” is currently being restored under the auspices of Filmmuseum archivists Mark-Paul Meyer and Giovanna Fossati, with lab work by Haghefilm Conservation. The film will be screened with a brand-new score by the well-known Dutch composer Henny Vrienten during the second Filmmuseum Biennial in Amsterdam from April 5-10, 2005.

It was very rare that two stars of such magnitude as Swanson and Valentino were paired together in a silent film. Usually, by casting just one major talent per release, the studios tried to maximize the number of bankable films they produced each year. When Paramount approached Swanson to star with Valentino, the studio intended the assignment to be “punishment” for her demands for greater control. Swanson never let on that the two actors often rode horses together in the Hollywood hills and that she was actually delighted to costar with such a close friend.

For their project, Paramount chose a well-loved novel by popular author Elinor Glyn whose romantic pot-boilers often featured strong women and virile men in exotic locales. (She also was the author of It, which made Clara Bow an international sensation.) Sam Wood, was assigned to direct the production. Wood went on to have a long and respected career that included such superior films as Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Devil and Miss Jones, Kings Row, Pride of the Yankees and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

In her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, Gloria wrote “One of the first stipulations of the office was that kisses should run no longer than ten feet of film. So we shot each kiss twice, once for the version to be released in America and once for the European version. Poor Rudy could hardly get his nostrils flaring before the American version was over. Only Europeans and South Americans could see Swanson and Valentino engage in any honest-to-goodness torrid kisses. American fevers were now controlled by a stopwatch.” The print rediscovered and restored by the Nederlands Filmmuseum is the export version of the film featuring the full-length love scenes – complete with flaring nostrils.

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