Milestone Films has made film history for more than 15 years thanks to the passion of its founders, Amy Heller and Dennis Doros, who distribute classic films that have been overlooked, lost or forgotten amid the cinema’s ceaseless flood of celluloid. In keeping with that mission, Doros and Heller have launched their own DVD label, The Milestone Cinematheque, to retain, as Doros put it, “more control over the process and to continue to present the films that we love .?.?. Current marketing trends and Q ratings just never interested us.” One can only imagine what the Q rating might have been for the first title on their label, Beyond the Rocks, when it was first released in 1922. Long feared lost, this swooning melodrama features a rare pairing of two high-wattage silent stars, Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson, as lovers drawn together by fate but kept apart by greed and social mores. Pressured early on by her family to marry for money, Swanson’s Theodora must later deny her feelings for Valentino’s Lord Bracondale, an English nobleman with Italian blood (or so we’re told, by way of explanation for his atypically smoldering looks). Smolder, of course, is all the aroused and arousing couple ever gets to do onscreen, with the script going so far as to shift the really hot stuff to fantasy historical sequences, thereby avoiding the appearance of outright adultery. The film’s theme of passion deferred resonates with its own legend, as the thought of seeing Valentino romancing Swanson onscreen has stoked interest in Beyond the Rocks for more than eight decades. When surviving reels were discovered in 2000 in the Netherlands, waves of anticipation shot through silent-film circles, and this gorgeous restoration, with a lush new score by Henny Vrienten, more than gratifies. Beyond the Rocks is being released on DVD this Tuesday, along with Milestone’s Electric Edwardians: The Lost Films of Mitchell & Kenyon.
Also released this week:
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DVD: Charlie’s Angels: The Complete Third Season; Doctor Who: The Complete First Series; Firecracker; Gantz: Season 2 Box Set; The Legend of Prince Valiant — The Complete Series, Vol. 1; The Libertine; Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School; The Matador; Naruto, Volume 1: Uncut Box Set; Samurai Champloo: Complete Box Set; Small Gauge Trauma; Stoned: Unrated Director’s Version.