starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres
Here is romance. Red-hot. If you read the story you will go to see the filmization. If you haven't, you will go anyway. This is popular entertainment -- that and nothing more. But that is enough. The best-selling story by E.M. Hull, scoffed at by the higher-browed critics, but read and re-read by two-thirds of the women in this country, has been made into a very exciting, very old-fashioned photoplay.
It's the old-time adventure, much more artistically presented than formerly, but still just a glorified movie. The exquisite Agnes Ayres as Diana, the English heroine, and Rudolph Valentino in the title role, perform their parts splendidly. George Melford's direction is, as usual, competent, but not unusual. You should see this if you aren't too weary to imagine that you might have been Diana and The Sheik living their desert romance.
Starring Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres
Also in the month's output arrives a screen version of a novel which is as far from the original as it could well be. We refer to the scenario which has been made from the preposterous and phenomenal best seller, "The Sheik."
This is the hectic tale of an English girl in the clutches of an Arabian chief, which has been for so long the delight of old ladies' boarding houses and young ladies' seminaries. If published during the same year as "Three Weeks," it probably would have shocked as many people as that Elinor Glyn effusion. But, in this era, it excited some mild amusement, but not a word of protest from the book censors.
The screen censors are another thing again. We can just see them patting "The Sheik" into a decorous mood mild enough for the most tender mind. His fierceness -- which so delighted the gentle spinster readers -- is all gone, his language and manner are as meek as a Rollo book, and his attitude toward the kidnapped heroine is that of a considerate and platonic friend rather than the passionate, ruthless lover, "on an Arab shod with fire."
Of course, Rudolph Valentino was too young for this role, anyhow. The Arab of the story was a disillusioned man with a hectic past behind him. We liked Agnes Ayres better as the obstinate beauty who shrinks from his advances, though we must say she didn't have much to shrink from. Now it is hardly fair to blame the producers for the meddling of the censors, because they would probably have preferred to present the picture with all its lurid details. But we do blame them for selecting a theme which was so obviously designed to give the censor's knife full play.
Video source: Movies Unlimited, Critic's Choice, Nostalgia
Return to reviews page