(kr) wrote: 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.