Beyond the Rocks (1922)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Beyond the Rocks Photos

Movie Info

In this romantic melodrama, a beautiful young gold digger (Gloria Swanson) marries a much older man for his wealth and then falls in love with a handsome adventurer (Rudolph Valentino). The affair quickly heats up and before it goes too far the woman realizes her errant ways and decides to return to her husband. She then writes each man a letter explaining her decision. Unfortunately before they are delivered, a jealous woman steals them and switches the contents. The husband is so shocked and upset that he goes on safari to Africa. Both Swanson and Valentino follow him to beg forgiveness. They arrive just as her husband, whose party was attacked by outlaws, lay dying. Before he expires, he gives the lovers his blessings.
Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures


Gloria Swanson
as Theodora Fitzgerald
Rudolph Valentino
as Lord Bracondale
Edythe Chapman
as Lady Bracondale
Alec B. Francis
as Captain Fitzgerald
Robert Bolder
as Josiah Brown
Gertrude Astor
as Morella Winmarleigh
Mabel Van Buren
as Mrs. McBride
Raymond Blathwayt
as Sir Patrick Fitzgerald
F.R. Butler
as Lady Wensleydon
June Elvidge
as Lady Anningford
Helen Dunbar
as Lady Ada Fitzgerald
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Beyond the Rocks

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

A marvelously overripe 1922 silent melodrama starring Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino.

Full Review… | January 12, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

It is the only film in which two of the great stars of the era -- Gloria Swanson and Rudolf Valentino -- appeared together. If only to see their on-screen chemistry, no film buff should miss it.

Full Review… | October 14, 2005
Miami Herald
Top Critic

A great example of the burgeoning star system at work and a form of diversion that delighted audiences in earlier times.

Full Review… | February 28, 2007
Film Journal International

It goes without saying that the discovery and restoration of the 1922 Gloria Swanson/Rudolph Valentino melodrama Beyond the Rocks is a cause for celebration

Full Review… | September 22, 2006
Slant Magazine

Beyond the Rocks is not the world's greatest movie, but the fact that it exists at all makes it one of the most exciting DVDs of 2006.

Full Review… | July 28, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

The new beautifully melancholic score by Henny Vrienten greatly adds to the atmosphere.

Full Review… | July 10, 2006

Audience Reviews for Beyond the Rocks


Another recently discovered and restored silent picture. There are a few scenes that are beyond restoration and the chemically disintegrating film becomes visible in splotches. There is an informative Dutch documentary about the restoration on the DVD. Evidently it was not the norm for two stars of such magnitude to co-star in a film at this time, but Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino did for this romance. This movie was also based on an Elinor Glyn novel. Theodora Fitzgerald (Swanson) is pushed to marry an old millionaire by her step-sisters so the family will be financially comfortable. Her father (Francis) says she can refuse, but for his sake she agrees to marry Josiah Brown (Bolder). From their small seaside English town Josiah and Theodora travel to the mountains in Switzerland and fancy hotels in Paris. Fate keeps throwing Theodora and Lord Hector Bracondale (Valentino) together since Theodora's new husband is not a young or active man. This is the sort of trashy story that Glyn wrote, the young couple fall in love, but in order for them to be together, she must be unfaithful to her marriage. A handful of other supporting characters make appearances and these wealthy society people hop around Europe without much concern. The scenery and lifestyle are intriguing to observe nevertheless. Later in the plot a jealous woman switches letters that Theodora writes to Josiah and Hector. With their secret found out, Josiah decides to make the dangerous trip to Northern Africa for an archeological expedition. Theodora, her father, and Hector rush to try to find Josiah before it is too late. Romantic intrigue played between two worldwide celebrities of their day caused this movie to be a big success.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

Only Important For Its Stars Once again, we are dealing with a Lost Film. However, unlike most of the ones we've dealt with, this film was found in a more or less complete state. Yes, the title cards on the print were in Dutch, but that's easy enough to fix. And by the look of it, not much effort was put into the job; I could have made more authentic-looking ones myself with the right equipment. It's also clear that this wasn't the original score. Indeed, large amounts of it remind me of the soft jazz station that I listened to off and on for several years in the late '80s and early '90s. There were only a few minutes wherein it seemed the composer was actually trying to work with the material he had. Still, this was probably one of those movies on a lot of people's dream lists of lost films to be found somewhere. It must have been very satisfying to the person who found it. Indeed, I'm grateful, too, because this held a certain place in movie history, an intersection of two of the great silent stars who were only in one movie together. The lovely but impoverished Theodora Fitzgerald (Gloria Swanson) has been raised to put her father's wishes above hers in family loyalty. Therefore, even though she meets the dashing and wealthy Lord Hector Bracondale (Rudolph Valentino) when he rescues her from being lost at sea, she is convinced that he will never marry her--because poor--and so she obeys her father's wishes and marries the wealthy but elderly Josiah Brown (Robert Bolder). Alas, she encounters Lord Bracondale again, this time by falling off a cliff and being rescued by him. (Theodora is a bit danger-prone.) They fall in love, but she believes they must be stronger than their love. She is married, remember, and leaving her husband would ruin pretty much everyone concerned one way or another. At first, they believe that they can still see one another and just imagine what can never be. However, they are unable to resist their desires. Oh, yes. This is a melodrama. In fact, I kind of feel the need to throw in some more adjectives. Most of them would relate to our two stars, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. Now, as it happens, I don't think I've ever seen a Valentino film before, and the only Gloria Swanson film I'm certain I've seen is [i]Sunset Blvd.[/i] Which doesn't count. However, the pair of them were well known for the drama they attracted onscreen and off. Rudolph Valentino's death was one of the biggest pop culture events of the '20s, and Gloria Swanson . . . well. The Kennedys could tell you about her, though they'd really rather not. The pairing of the two of them couldn't help being a melodrama, and it was not, alas, all that likely to be good. Indeed, the only reason I'm giving the movie a positive review is that it's an interesting moment in film history. Two great stars, if not necessarily great actors, in a movie together. The movie itself, though, isn't much. I mean, with that setup, they could have gone a lot of places. However, it really strikes me that this is what Roger calls an Idiot Plot, one where everyone's issues would have been solved if two of the characters had just had a conversation. To be sure, Theodora couldn't know that. But somehow, she got it into her head that the only way to save her family from some unnamed fate, presumably bitter poverty, is to marry Josiah. I'm not inclined to believe that. I think that, if she had talked to Josiah about her feelings toward him in the first five minutes of the film, before she married him, the rest of the movie wouldn't have happened. Or maybe if she had talked to Hector after he rescued her and maybe seen if he was interested in her or not. But no, everyone assumed he couldn't be interested in a poor woman, so she married the man from a humble background. Who turns out to be a much nicer person than he could have been, had this been a different movie. The other thing which kind of got me, and this tells you a lot about me as well as about the movie, is the names. They're Victorian melodrama names. Elinor Glyn, who wrote the original novel, pioneered the field of modern erotica aimed at women, but the names remind me more of L. M. Montgomery. Inasmuch as they remind me of the names Anne, Diana, and the others come up with for their own characters when Anne and company were schoolgirls. Gertrude Astor plays a character named Morella Winmarleigh. I don't remember anything about the character--I think she's an impoverished noblewoman who hopes to ensnare Hector--but I can perfectly imagine Ruby Gillis giving a character that name. Honestly, I can picture the girls' having written the plot as well, though they would not have made Josiah Brown kindly--and he never would have had that last name, of course.

Edith Nelson
Edith Nelson

A lost film in the annuls of history, Beyond the Rocks was found, restored, and subtitled for the enjoyment of the masses. Sadly, my enjoyment was quelmed by the lackluster equivalent to my wildest fantasies. I do give creedence in every aspect that I can: the loss of sound, the loss in quality over the last 90 years, the overacting, the extravagant costuming, and the difference in movies today. I can forgive all of these things, look past them, and survey the quality of the actual film. Those things said, it was bad. It was gruesome. Written by shockster Elinor Glyn and directed by De Mille protege Sam Wood, the plot was shamelessly boring. I do give kudos to the angle of her deep devotion to her rich, ugly husband though she was in love with the aristocratic Valentino, who she shared magically dramatic chemistry with. Still, Swanson's future work is filled with much more intelligent films.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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