Like most silent movie fans, I also enjoy the quirky marketing materials of the era. Posters, lobby cards, ads, etc. I recently ran across a lobby card for The Sheik and a few things struck me as pretty funny. Let’s share!
So here’s the lobby card in all its glory:
But let’s get on with the dissection!
Who gets top billing? Agnes Ayres, that’s who! Even though Valentino had a strong fan following and a couple of hits under his belt, Metro and Paramount executives seemed to credit everything EXCEPT his charisma and sex appeal. Plus, Ayres was dating one of the big executives of Paramount at the time, so billing her on top seemed like a no-brainer.
Why does Rudolph Valentino have a yellow diamond behind him? Does he carry with with him everywhere?
“What’s that, Rudy?”
“This? Oh, it’s just my yellow diamond.”
And it seems to be bisecting his middle. Oh dear! That looks painful. How does he keep it on, do you think? Tape? Glue? Force of will? His psionic powers?
In order to emphasize the cultural and racial difference between the characters, Valentino’s hands were painted a dark shade, far darker than the skin of his face. Once you notice this, you cannot unsee.
My favorite piece of the lobby card by far. Can’t you just hear the Sheik shrieking “Woo hoo hoo!” Daffy Duck-style as he makes his escape with the object of his desire? (This scene never appears in the film, alas.)
Availability: The Sheik is available as a double feature with Son of the Sheik from Flicker Alley. There are numerous bargain editions but, frankly, you get what you pay for.