The Sheik (1921)

The Sheik

The Sheik Review

The Sheik is a 1921 film directed by George Melford and starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres. It is one of the most popular films of its time and it launched the career of its star.

It follows a turbulent relationship between a white woman and an Arab man in the Arab desert. This was to me such a clich├ęd story that was predictable from beginning to end. It was interesting and I must admit that it has its charms, but it is most certainly a blockbuster of the era due to a bombastic approach, familiar storyline and a bankable star and exotic location. It was never particularly fresh and it was never as dramatic as it should have been. But it was admittedly romantic from time to time with some heartwarming moments.

Sheik Ahmed is a solid character and was genuinely likable, but the same cannot be said for Lady Diana who was extremely annoying and even stupid at times. The two have a solid, but familiar relationship. And the others are all forgettable.

The acting is okay, but nothing too remarkable. Rudolph Valentino definitely has a screen presence and it is easy to see why he was such a big star. He also gave a respectable and natural performance as well. But Agnes Ayres was awful, simply bad. She gave the worst performance and definitely was the biggest problem of the whole movie with her unbearable overacting that is just so exaggerated, even for its decade.

The imagery is quite solid and the photography is okay. The Sheik also has a fine direction and quite good pacing. It is solidly scripted and memorable and even romantic and definitely sometimes charming, but it was too predictable and too familiar to be enjoyed on a grander scale. The tone is solid and the performance from Valentino is very good. The movie also serves rather well as a romance which is why it was such a crowd-pleaser when it was originally released. I thought at first it was whitewashed, but the origin of the main character is afterwards explained and that is why this wasn’t as racist. The dialogue is okay and I liked the intertitles as well. The movie is mostly grounded in reality, but some scenes are laughably unrealistic and just difficult to believe. It is a fine movie, but never anything too great or particularly sophisticated which is why I refer to it as the blockbuster of its time.

The Sheik is solidly acted by Rudolph Valentino, it has some romantic scenes, it looks fine and is an interesting and even charming movie, but it is too typical in its storyline and too predictable to be enjoyed more. It is also never as sophisticated as it should have been, Agnes Ayres is bad in her role and it is overall a solid, but far from a great film.

My Rating – 3.5

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Interior & Exterior Stills from The Sheik

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Posted in 1920s, 1921, Drama, MOVIE REVIEWS, Romance, Silent and tagged , , , , , , .

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