THE SILENT TREATMENT: Valley of the Giants

A great example of the directorial talents of Charles Brabin, a husband to silent siren Theda Bara who paid his dues in Thomas Edison’s early film studio before blossoming in the world of serials, and eventually landing the gig of helming Ben-Hur (until he was replaced directly before shooting.) No campy monster mash with 50-foot meanies, Valley of the Giants is a tempestuous, sweeping tale eventually told several times over cinema’s early history, including Kirk Douglas’s Fifties treatment The Big Trees. Here, playing the son of a lumber baron, Milton Sills returns from Europe to his lush, Sequoia-laden home in Humboldt, to find that his father’s gone blind, a business competitor wants to destroy the family business — and that the competitor’s niece is emerging as his true love. Full of both eye candy in the form of startling Northern California location photography in, and crackling chemistry between Sills and his real-life spouse Doris Kenyon.
Dir. Charles Brabin, 1927, 35mm, 70 min. (Print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive)