- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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THAT LOOK AT THE CASINO!
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was nothing like the book, Valentino's Sheik was a pretty nice guy all things considered. Recall my Nana (who was a major Valentino fan!) talking about Valentino and how NO ONE LOOKED LIKE VALENTINO. Got to say, its worth seeing if only to see the Sheik's expression when he sees Lady Dliana for the first time while entering the closed-to-Europeans casino. It's true, NO ONE LOOKED LIKE VALENTINO!
Arab Images on Film/ The Sheik/ Son of the Sheik
In "The Sheik", Lady Diana falls in love with Ahmed (the Sheik) before she finds out he is not middle-eastern-she writes in the sand that she loves Ahmed before the Sheik's evil rival abducts her. At the end of the movie, when he is on his deathbed, it is revealed that he is the child of European missionaries who died and was adopted by the Sheik. In "Son of the Sheik", Yasmin, the dancing girl, who is French, is in love with the lead character, (also called "Ahmed"), who refuses to identify his father. She doesn't find out until later on that his father is the Sheik, and the racial element isn't covered at all. Therefore, in both films, the alleged racial differences were irrelevant to the female lead falling in love with the male lead.
Arab Images on Film--the Sheik/ Son of the Sheik
I disagree somewhat with Professor Shaheen's comments about "The Sheik" and "The Son of the Sheik". Both of these films were screen adaptations of novels written by English author Edith Maude Hull, and were written as sexual fantasies. I wonder if the reason that the main character in both films was revealed to be European rather than Middle-Eastern was because of the influence of miscegenation laws, as opposed to there being something less worthy about a Middle Eastern man. The title character lives in Algiers, has an Arabic name, dresses as an Arab, is of the Muslim faith--frequently referring to Allah, and is "Paris educated". All 3 characters were played by the still-popular Valentino. After "The Sheik" was released, hundreds of young women ran away from home to go to Algiers because they thought there were men that looked like Valentino riding around on horses looking for women to take back to their oasis for lovemaking. There are many politically-incorrect issues worth complaining about, such as the title card in "The Sheik" that says that the "children of Araby" are blissfully unaware that "civilization has passed them by"--their school consisting of a man drawing in the sand with a stick while children look on. Also, in "The Sheik", Lady Diana Mayo falls in love with the title character as a result of his raping her. I do understand that Arabic people, just like blacks and other minorities, were frequently portrayed in films by negative stereotypes, but I disagree that these 2 films fully fit this description. Commenting on "The Son of the Sheik", the Professor states that the dancing girl [Vilma Banky] is stereotypic. According to the story line, she is the front for a group of desert thieves, led her father, who is French--Algiers was formerly a French colony. In the scene where Valentino is being tortured this is because he refused to identify his father. Again, the bad guys were Europeans, not Middle Easterners.
The Sheik (1921)
- Celia Trimboli
One can see the appeal Valentino had for the women of that era in this film. There was a version of tis film that used to plqy on cable about twenty years ago that had new backgound music added to it. It was very good. The owner should release that one to DVD very soon.
In this prequel to "The Son of the Sheik", Valentino plays a tribal leader (Sheik), who comes to Biskra, an Arabian town, to host a marriage lottery ritual to select brides for his tribesmen. At the casino, he locks eyes with Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres), and both are instantly mesmerized. Diana is a headstrong independent British woman intent on exploring the Middle East on her own, and is to be led on her journey by one of the Sheik's men, who tells the Sheik about her travel plans. Diana is barred from the casino during the lottery, so she borrows an Arabian dancing girl's costume and mingles with the prospective brides. She is discovered and escorted out by the Sheik, who sneaks into her room later that night and disables the bullets in her gun. While leaving, he serenades her with a song about her "pale hands", which becomes their song in this film and its sequel. Valentino recorded this song on one of 2 extant known recordings of his voice. The next day, the Sheik abducts her and takes her to his tent, intent on making her his bride. Valentino's acting in this scene is wonderful--he merely turns his head slowly and his valet knows to pull a curtain over the doorway for privacy. The title card dialogue for this scene is priceless--he asks her if she isn't "woman enough to know" why he brought her to his tent. Diana is abducted by an evil rival of the Sheik, who gets seriously wounded rescuing her. His survival perilous, Diana helps nurse him back to health and they fall in love. Valentino disliked being typecast in this role for which is most famous, and he was directed to over-emote when expressing his sexual desire for her. Nevertheless, the film has been very popular since it was released. Other interesting items include the opening scene from Mecca, and the miscegenation rules that prohibited inter-racial lovemaking, so the Sheik couldn't be of Arabian descent, but the child of European missionaries who died, and who was adopted by a Sheik.