Kyle Cubr reviews “The Son of the Sheik” for Cine-File Chicago

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Released posthumously just two weeks after its esteemed star’s death, THE SON OF THE SHEIK finds Rudolph Valentino playing a dual role as the titular character and as the sheik’s father in what was supposed to be his comeback film following a string of unsuccessful titles. A sequel to 1921’s THE SHEIK (both films based on two separate Edith Maude Hull novels), bullheaded Ahmed (Valentino) falls for an exotic dancer named Yasmin (Vilma Banky), who supports her father and his gang through her trade. While the new lovers are meeting secretly one night, Ahmed is captured and tortured by the aforementioned gang for not revealing who he is or who his family is. Believing Yasmin betrayed him, Ahmed sets out for revenge. Valentino’s presence and charisma dominate the film from start to finish. His onscreen chemistry with Banky lends itself well to the film’s erotic (for its time) undertones. Mixing beautiful set pieces, just a dash of slapstick humor, and an enthralling script, director George Fitzmaurice’s production outshines the original. Some of the sequences in which both of Valentino’s characters appear on screen together through some camera trickery are particularly impressive. THE SON OF THE SHEIK makes for compelling drama and acts as the perfect swan song for one of the silent era’s most recognizable sex symbols.

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