Movies from the ‘Romance’ Category

The Sheik (1921)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The Sheik is a 1921 silent movie produced by Famous Players-Lasky, directed by George Melford and starring Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres and Adolphe Menjou. It is based on the bestselling romance novel “The Sheik” by Edith Maude Hull.

The Sheik became the movie that defined Rudolph Valentino’s career much to his annoyance. The film was also the picture that propelled him into superstardom. Ironically the first releases had the title credits as, The Sheik…starring Agnes Ayres.

The Sheik became so popular that the word came to be used to mean a young man on the prowl. The object of a Sheik’s desire was dubbed “a Sheba.”

Lady Diana Mayo, part of the British expatriate community in Algiers, loathes the idea of marriage because she believes it means the end of independence for women. Against advice she is making a month long journey into the desert alone. As she discusses her plans Diana notices a commotion going on at the next door casino and asks what is going on. She is told it is a party being thrown by a wealthy and important Sheik and no one but Arabs may enter. Annoyed at being told what to do, and curious as to what’s going on, Diana borrows an Arabic dancer’s costume and sneaks into the party.

At the party women are being gambled off like coins. When she is spotted, an Arab tries to bring her to the front of the crowd, but she resists, causing much commotion. Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Rudolph Valentino) takes notice and intervenes, realizing the woman is white. He realizes she is the woman he had spotted earlier as he entered, and amused, he sends her out of the party. After she leaves, Mustapha Ali (Charles Brinley) tells the Sheik she is the woman he is to guide into the desert tomorrow. The Sheik hatches a plan, telling Mustapha to lead her to him and his caravan.

Diana and her brother venture into the desert. At her insistence, her brother finally leaves, she promising to see him in London next month. Once he is gone Mustapha sends the signal. Then the Sheik’s caravan attacks, capturing Diana. Diana is upset and tries to escape, but is unable to.

During dinner in the Sheik’s sumptuous tent, Diana tries again to escape from the Sheik, this time into a raging sand storm. The Sheik runs after her, saving her from certain death, and tells her she will learn to love him. The Sheik is then told by a servant that the horses have escaped into the storm and he is forced to leave Diana. When he returns, he finds Diana alone in her sleeping quarters. The Sheik initially thinks of forcing himself upon her, but instead is moved to shame for his thoughts by her crying and her prayers.

As Diana and her servant are out on a trip Diana is captured by another caravan.

The Sheik receives the news and goes to find out what happened. He sees Diana’s message in the sand and gathers up his army and goes to attack the rival tribe.

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Posted in Black & White, Drama, Romance, Silent | No Comments »