Friday, July 28, 2006

The Son Of The Sheik (1926)

"But why not?! My dad kidnapped HIS wife, and they're GREAT together!"

Genre: Silent Adventure Drama Romance

Starring: Rudolph Valentino (The Sheik, The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse), Vilma Banky

Directed By: George Fitzmaurice

Overview: In the sequel to The Sheik, his son falls for a dancing girl. Their romance begins but her jealous suitor kidnaps him and holds him for ransom, while the son believes that the woman he loves betrayed him all along.

Acting: Just like the director of the original The Sheik, we have a man whose made a ton of films (84 to be precise), and none of them seemed to be anything all that popular or even good, except for this one of course. Like the original, this suffers from overzealous acting, and though more refined, I don't believe it's due to the director's guidance. Culturally, by 1926, actors knew how to act differently on screen than on stage, and audiences probably expected more realistic portrayals than the slapstick hamminess of 1918.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: As one watched an old Arabian-style classic, one might chuckle at the dated and outmoded tents, the harem girls, the gaudy decor and animated displays of scimitar flaunting. Here too. Everything is far too cliche to stand the test of time. Having a desert storm pick up during the climax is not only trite, but was done in THE ORIGINAL FILM. One good stunt: jumping from the balcony, grabbing the chandelier and swinging down to the ground. I will also praise the dancing girl, Yasmin. She can surely cut a rug. Hubba, hubba.
Rating: 5

Script: "Women - Bah! Heed them not, for today's peach is tomorrow's prune!"

Unfortunately there is nothing else nearly as witty as the above line. The story unfolds with people discussing exactly what needs be said without any nuance or art whatsoever. 'I want this', 'I was the one who did this', 'This is how we get even'. God, force-feeding the audience was clearly not a problem back in 1926 either. No zing, my friends, no zing...
Rating: 5

Plot: There was a character that provided comic relief, a dwarfish little rabble-rousing brigand. He pinched prisoners, got stabbed in the butt and was hung up on a hook, left to squirm. It was strange to see this in a romantic drama, but I will say that those moments helped me through the common and obvious standard three acts of Love, Strife, Rescue. The story is better than it's predecessor, but it's still not remotely a work of imagination.
Rating: 5

Mood: The biggest mood killer here is the fight scene, where the sheik and his son face a whole gang of brigands and cut-throats, managing to keep them at bay with vicious sweeps of their swords, defeated by their 'angrily buttering bread' swooping sword techniques. What a crock. Heroism and high adventure is one thing, but if you're going to fight with a sword, at least pretend it's a fight. The whole film is just like you'd expect, a romantic frivolity with the knowledge that everything will turn out blah.
Rating: 5

No, no it's not kink, he's really actually about the girl...

Overall Rating: 52% (Son Of A SHEIK!)

Aftertaste: This is one of those films that will drift by peacefully in my mind. One of those 'I've heard about it' films that I knew did not need to be seen, but that, once viewed, would add to the overall consensus of an era, forgivable for the greater perspective of 'Anthropology', This is the reason for this silent study. Here's a little Valentino trivia for you: He was the first Hollywood sex symbol, and while promoting this film the Chicago Tribune accused him of 'effeminizing the American Male'. He challenged the author to a boxing match to defend his masculinity. How history repeats itself, considering Uwe Boll and his recent declaration to his own critics...