Men and women, fathers and children. Ahmed, son of Diana and Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, falls in love with Yasmin, a dancing girl who fronts her father's gang of mountebanks. Among the cutthroats is Ghobah, a villainous Moor to whom Yasmin is promised. In ruins near Touggourt, the city where Yasmin dances, she and Ahmed meet secretly until one night when her father and the gang capture the son of the sheik, torture him, and hold him for ransom. Will Ahmed believe that Yasmin set him up for capture? Even if true love finds a way through webs of deceit, what will the vigorous and imposing sheik say about his son consorting with a dancing girl? Written by
In sands "Not East of Suez -- but South of Algiers," handsome Rudolph Valentino (as Ahmed) and beautiful dancing girl Vilma Bánky (as Yasmin) fall in love. Mr. Valentino learns that Ms. Bánky must dance for coins, which her wicked father George Fawcett (as André) gambles away. Mr. Fawcett and Montagu Love (as Ghabah) are part of a band of renegade thieves. Valentino wants Bánky for his own, but Fawcett isn't about to part with the goose that brings in the golden coins. Valentino is kidnapped, strung up, whipped, and held for ransom. Turns out, he's "The Son of the Sheik"...
Valentino is freed, with a lot of help from his friend Karl Dane (as Ramadan). Valentino thinks Bánky betrayed their love; and, he vengefully abducts her. Meanwhile, Ahmed's father Rudolph Valentino (in a dual role, as the original Sheik) and mother Agnes Ayres (as Diana) are preparing an arranged wedding for the younger Valentino. Father and son clash, over love and lust
An indelible, essential film, "Son of the Sheik" finds Valentino at the top of his profession. George Fitzmaurice (direction), George Barnes (photography), William Cameron Menzies (sets), and George Marion Jr. (title cards) are all outstanding. Bánky and the supporting cast are excellent. The filmmakers create a rich, dreamy, and imaginary world; note how the opening "title card" refuses to be precise. This goes even further than the original "The Sheik" (1921) in establishing the films as something incompatible with reality; of course, both films suffer when taken without a grain of sand.
Valentino's characterizations are startlingly well-crafted; no doubt, many original film goers missed the nuances present in the younger Ahmed, and would not have even guessed, unless alerted, Valentino was also portraying the older Sheik. The "split screen" appearance of the two Valentinos is technically brilliant; and, even with make-up, Valentino's portrayal of the older Sheik shows an extraordinary range. In fact, Valentino could have essayed a double career as a dashing older man. Had he lived, Valentino might have been awarded his own best acting "Medal of Honor" for his performance, which was at least equal to John Barrymore's 1925 win, for "Beau Brummell".
********** Son of the Sheik (7/9/26) George Fitzmaurice ~ Rudolph Valentino, Vilma Banky, George Fawcett, Agnes Ayres
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