“Like all youths, he loved a dancing girl. Like all dancing girls, she tricked him.”
The son (Rudolph Valentino) of an Arabian sheik (also Valentino) falls in love with a dancer (Vilma Banky) whose father (George Fawcett) and his cronies are thieves. When young Ahmed (Valentino) is mistakenly led to believe Banky seduced him as a front for her father’s gang, he feels terribly betrayed, and kidnaps her in revenge.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Father and Son
- Middle East
- Rudolph Valentino Films
- Silent Films
The Son of the Sheik — notable as one of Hollywood’s first sequels — was released just two weeks after Rudolph Valentino’s premature death from appendicitis at the age of 31, and was one of his biggest hits with audiences; it’s now widely considered by critics to be his best film. Indeed, it shows clear evidence of how far Valentino’s acting range had evolved since his laughably one-dimensional performance in The Sheik (1921) (which consisted of little more then leers and melodramatic eyebrow-raising); here, playing both the Sheik and his son, his expressions are much subtler — it’s not just the elder Sheik’s graying hair that allows us to differentiate between father and son. Meanwhile, the original film’s disturbing premise of love borne from captivity has been replaced by a refreshingly mutual attraction between young Valentino and Banky; their sexual chemistry together is palpable, and makes for enjoyable eye candy. With all that said, The Son of the Sheik is ultimately little more than escapist fare; the fact that it’s more palatable than its awful predecessor isn’t saying a whole lot. However, I am recommending it as a “must see” title to film fanatics, simply to see Valentino in his final role.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Rudolph Valentino in dual roles as the Sheik and his son
- Plenty of sexual chemistry between Valentino and Banky
- Fine cinematography
Yes, simply to see Valentino in his last — and arguably his best — role(s).