Live Music & Film: The Sheik 1921 Ages 12+

11.00AM Sun 11 Feb 2018 (1hr 20mins)
GOMA | Cinema A | Free

SYNOPSIS

Organist David Bailey accompanies George Melford's desert fantasy on the Gallery's 1929 Wurlitzer organ.

The Sheik stars Italian American Rudolph Valentino as the European-educated Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, a role that made him an international star. Agnes Ayres, the film's headliner, appears alongside as the independent Lady Diana Mayo, a wealthy English woman who sets off on an ill-advised tour of the desert accompanied by a small contingent of Arab guides. Having caught the eye of the Sheik prior to her departure, Mayo is abducted mid-expedition by the chieftain, who seizes opportunity to demonstrate his romantic intentions.

The film was based on the wildly popular 1919 potboiler of the same name by Edith M. Hull. Considered a racy 'Arabian Nights' fantasy which combined exotic Middle Eastern opulence with American Wild West horsemanship, both the film and the book embraced the notion that women, no matter how modern, desired to be conquered by a powerful man. While both the book and film were mocked by critics at the time, their immense popularity with audiences inspired the desert romance subgenre which saw a swath of narratives depicting reckless Western women falling in love with their exotic, hyper-masculine kidnappers. While the film touches on the then taboo topic of interracial relationships, it manages to sidestep the thorny issue with a final twist in the tale; our Sheik is not Middle Eastern at all but the son of an English gentleman and his Spanish wife. The Sheik was filmed in California, with the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes providing the exterior locations in lieu of the Middle East.

CREDITS

35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, SILENT, 86 MINS, UNITED STATES, ENGLISH INTERTITLES / DIRECTOR: GEORGE MELFORD / SCRIPT: MONTE M KATTERJOHN / BASED ON THE 1919 NOVEL 'THE SHEIK' BY EDITH MAUDE HULL / CINEMATOGRAPHER: WILLIAM MARSHALL / CAST: RUDOLPH VALENTINO, AGNES AYRES, CHARLES BRINLEY, LUCIEN LITTLEFIELD / MUSIC: ROGER BELLON / PRODUCTION COMPANY: PARAMOUNT PICTURES / RIGHTS: PUBLIC DOMAIN