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lowbrow Italian comedy with Tomas Milian and Bo Svenson, for fans of the stars only
While the title of this film, SON OF THE SHEIK, is accurate, don't be thinking this has anything to do with the Rudolph Valentino classic. What we have here is a lowbrow, crude Italian late 70's comedy starring the great Tomas Milian (who has shown a gift for comedy in his PROVIDENCE films and elsewhere)as a loser in his 30s who lives with his domineering mother and dreams of opening his own gas station, but can't get a permit because he doesn't know the right people in the Italian bureaucracy. Then out of the blue, a beautiful American blonde woman comes along claiming to represent a large oil company and tells him that she will help him become manager of his own gas station. It turns out that Milian--whose birth was the result of a brief tryst between an middle Eastern emir and an Italian hotel maid (his mom)-- is the "son of the sheik" and this man wants his son to come back home. This plan is being thwarted by the lackeys working for an oil company, the main one played in an over-the-top fashion by Bo Svenson. Svenson also plays the slapstick very well, although the dubbed voice given him doesn't really fit a man of Svenson's size and authority. He wears ridiculous costumes throughout, chomps on a cigar, and seems to be having a lot of fun. Milian is dubbed the same actor who dubbed a lot of his 70s crime films, so the voice will seem familiar. There's a lot of crude bathroom humor and dated 70s jokes, but there's also a lot of physical comedy that manages to remain funny, which is a testament to Milian's and Svenson's talents. The scene where Milian first meets his father, who wants to check a birthmark on Milian's rear end, is a classic and surely the funniest scene in the film. The rest of the film is OK, but would seem better suited to Bud Spencer. Milian had just completed two superb crime films with director Bruno Corbucci directly prior to this--SWINDLE with David Hemmings, and HIT SQUAD with Robert Webber--so THE SON OF THE SHEIK must have seemed like a change of pace at the time, but the dated Arab stereotypes and cartoon-level humor have not held up very well. However, if you want to see Milian do a Jim Varney-esque comedy scene where he attempts to ride a camel, here is your chance. And I can't remember another entry in Bo Svenson's filmography where he plays Bowery Boys-level slapstick. So check out the film if those elements sound promising--for the rest of us, I can't really recommend you put much effort into finding this film. Except for the appeal of the two stars, it doesn't really have much to offer. Also, the full-screen video transfer is maddening, as the film was clearly composed widescreen and there are a number of scenes between two people where neither of them is seen but a dialogue goes on.
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