The Sheik (1921) Director: George Melford
The Sheik is an entertaining film starring Rudy Valentino, his second great blockbuster, though popularly considered to be inferior to the sequel (one of the first Hollywood sequels) The Son of the Sheik (1926). The production company was the old Famous Players-Lasky and the distribution was conducted by Paramount Pictures.
The plot follows the story of the headstrong Lady Diana Mayo as she travels to Northern Africa, or Arabia. She is told she is not allowed in the casino for one night because a powerful Sheik is in town for a public bridal ceremony, one easily recalls the tales Herodotus gave of the public bridal events that took place in ancient Babylon. She is eventually captured by the Sheik and he forces her to stay with him, though curiously the audience also sees the sheik in a sympathetic light.
A long-time French friend of the sheik visits and castigates the sheik for his treatment of Lady Diana. When she tries to escape, the sheik’s men rescue her from being captured by a rival band of warriors, Omair’s group. This happens a second time, and she is successfully captured and Omair tries to force himself upon her, but one of the Bedouin women stabs him, instead. A fight ensues between the rival tribes and the sheik kills Omair but becomes, himself, gravely wounded. As he lies on what initially appears to be his deathbed, his French compatriot reveals that the sheik is actually European and rules this North African tribe. Lady Diana reveals her love for him and the film ends.
The Sheik is a fun and entertaining film, though not one I would easily recommend to lovers of classic film. The overly accentuated portrayal of the sheik by Valentino is challenging and the film is quite long and drawn out, with little chemistry between the lead actors.