George Fitzmaurice (director)
17 February 2022 (released)
17 February 2020
SON OF THE SHEIK is a 1926 silent adventure starring the silver screens ‘greatest lover’ – Rudolph Valentino. The film is a sequel to the earlier ‘The Sheik’ and would mark Valentino’s last appearance before his untimely death that same year following an operation.
Visually lavish with exquisite costumes, the film cannot deny its paper-thin plot despite Valentino taking on a double-role both as father and son. Here he plays Ahmed Jr. – the somewhat indulged son of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (also Valentino) and his English mother Diana (Agnes Ayres). Away from his parents (the clumsy subtitles inform us ‘Not east of Suez but south of Algiers’) Ahmed Jr. and his friends camp in a tent where he amuses himself with his latest love interest, a dancer by the name of Yasmin (Hungarian Vilma Bánky). Initial obsession has finally turned into true love (or so Ahmed thinks) when one afternoon the lovey-dovey couple enjoy a romantic outing… only for Ahmed to be kidnapped by a ghastly horde of villains led by Frenchman (and Yasmin’s father) Andre (George Fawcett). Andre and his henchmen kidnap Ahmed under threat of torture (which they partly carry out) and demand a ransom for the release of the wealthy young son of the Sheik. What Ahmed doesn’t know is that Andre has promised his daughter to one of his accomplices, the Moor Gabbah (British actor Montagu Love, looking about as convincing as Boris Johnson’s plans for the HS2 high-speed rail line). Now Gabbah is in a state of jealousy upon discovering that Yasmin is clearly besotted with the dashing-looking Ahmed. After the ransom is paid he is free to go but not before Gabbah lies to him that Yasmin was part of the plan all along, for that’s what she does for a living: with her exotic dances she lures wealthy men into a trap, only for her father to kidnap the victims and then demanding money for their release.
Alas, on this occasion Yasmin is well and truly innocent but she has no idea that Gabbah has told Ahmed a bunch of lies. Now the heartbroken Sheik is out for revenge and gets his chance when he encounters Yasmin again in the market town of Touggourt, although his best mate Ramadan (comedian Carl Dane) tries his best to stop him from his foolish plan. His pride and male ego badly bruised, Ahmed won’t listen and kidnaps Yasmin during her performance in a questionable den called Café Maure. Schlepping her back to his tent she is initially surprised by his frosty demeanour towards her, of course she has no idea about Gabbah’s lies. In the meantime, Ahmed Sr. and his wife Diana make plans to marry off their son – the chosen bride is a wealthy cousin of Diana’s. All the more reason for the father to grow angry over his son’s constant absence! Things change, however, when he learns about the real reasons behind Ahmed Jr. absence. Suffice to say the climax delivers plenty of action and naturally, there’s a happy ending on the horizon!
SON OF THE SHEIK sees Valentino in top form and a mighty good job he delivers too. All the more tragic he died that same year aged 31. His co-stars stay in perfect tune throughout the adventure, with Vilma Bánky displaying her considerable dancing skills and Carl Dane providing comic relief.
Eureka presents this silent movie classic newly restored in Dual Edition format.