A sequel to THE SHEIK (1921), the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a superstar, this was Valentino's final film; he died within weeks of its opening. THE SON OF THE SHEIK is somewhat better than its precursor and marginally less unwholesome--this time, the hero's motive for abducting
and (possibly) raping the love of his life is vengeance, not sport.
In the streets of Touggert, Ahmed (Rudolph Valentino), the son of a sheik, sees and is attracted to Yasmin (Vilma Banky), a girl who dances for coins. A series of trysts ensues during which the couple fall in love. Ahmed is kidnapped by Ghabah (Montague Love), the leader of a group of thieves that
includes Yasmin. Ghabah, who covets Yasmin, lies to Ahmed, telling him that the treacherous dancing girl is responsible for his abduction. Before Ahmed can be put up for ransom, he is freed by his men.
Determined to avenge himself, Ahmed abducts Yasmin and takes her to his tent where he has his way with her. Mutual love has turned into mutual hate. Ahmed's father (Valentino), who wants his son to marry another, orders Ahmed to let Yasmin go. At first, the young man is defiant, but he eventually
relents and frees the girl. Subsequently, he learns that she is blameless, an innocent pawn of Ghabah and his men.
Ahmed journeys to Touggert and finds Yasmin dancing in a cafe. There, he asks and is granted her forgiveness for doubting her love. A fight breaks out between Ahmed and Ghabah's men. After vanquishing them, Ahmed chases Ghabah into the desert and kills him. The two happy lovers ride off together.
Contemporary audiences may have ambivalent attitudes toward Valentino's two SHEIK movies, both of which center on sexual abduction and intimations of rape. On the one hand, society has become less tolerant of rape since Valentino's heyday; on the other hand, it has become more indulgent of female
rape fantasies. It would be wise for modern viewers of THE SON OF THE SHEIK to remind themselves that "it's only a movie."
The sequel was superior to the original, which was quite undistinguished. In the five years that separated the two, Valentino had improved as an actor, and one is grateful that he dropped the silly sexual leer that marred his performance in the original. In his last film, he is still, however,
less than first-rate in a role that John Gilbert might have made memorable. Vilma Banky as the dancing girl is called upon to do some actual dancing, and she does it energetically. The legendary art director William Cameron Menzies comes through with an evocatively iniquitous cafe and a striking
Apparently neither THE SON OF THE SHEIK's star nor its director, George Fitzmaurice, thought much of the vehicle. "I don't know if we're crazy or America is crazy," Fitzmaurice reportedly said to Valentino regarding the picture's success with the public. In August 1926, shortly after the film's
release, Valentino was admitted to New York hospital where he died at the tragically young age of 31. (Violence.)
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- Review: A sequel to THE SHEIK (1921), the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a superstar, this was Valentino's final film; he died within weeks of its opening. THE SON OF THE SHEIK is somewhat better than its precursor and marginally less unwholesome--this time, th… (more)