Unboxing the Silents: The Sheik on Bluray!

Rudolph Valentino’s signature role is coming to Bluray at last and I have all the details for you, dear readers! Join me on a nerdy examination of this exciting new edition of a romantic kitsch classic.

As always, a huge thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this release.

Before we begin, a quick rundown of what we will be doing. Normally, I leave the frame-by-frame comparisons to other reviewers because, frankly, they drive me bats and I just don’t care that much if scene 34 was 0:00:03 longer in this edition. In this case, though, I will be making an exception because comparing cuts of The Sheik is a little hobby of mine. (Another movie that I enjoy doing this with is Michael Strogoff, in case you were dying of curiosity.) So we’re going to get geeky!

Please also note that this is a review of the release, not the film itself. (If you want to read that, just click right here. Enjoy!)

Release Dates:

The Sheik and its 1926 sequel, The Son of the Sheik, will both be released by Kino Lorber on DVD and Bluray on May 30, 2017.

(I will be unboxing The Son of the Sheik soon so stay tuned!)

Image Quality:

Generally excellent, as you can see. (All screen caps are from the Bluray release. I cropped the pillarboxes but did not change them in any other way.)

Some scenes have softer image quality. (Is it possible that 16mm elements were used to supplement damaged 35mm material?)

But generally speaking, this Bluray looks great and is a significant jump in quality.

You also get:

The film is accompanied by an excellent organ score by Ben Model and an optional commentary by historian Gaylyn Studler. The disc also includes footage from Valentino’s funeral and the original theatrical trailer of Blood and Sand.

Nerdy Stuff:

As The Sheik is in the public domain, there are numerous cheapo editions out there but we can safely ignore them. For the purpose of our review, we will focus solely on two earlier versions: Paramount’s VHS release and the DVD version prepared by the late David Shepard.

The Paramount VHS version does not have tinting but it contains slightly different title cards and a brief scene that was likely added to appease censors. (After Diana is kidnapped, she is assured by her servant that no hanky-panky went on during the night.)

See? She’s alone in there! Please don’t ban us in Pennsylvania.

The Shepard DVD is tinted and seems to contain the original release title cards with elaborate artwork but lacks the no-hanky-panky scene. The other major difference between these older editions is that the Paramount VHS has Diana serenaded with Beautiful Dreamer while the Shepard DVD has Kashmiri Song. The latter piece’s reference to pale hands makes it the much better choice as the relative size and shade of the characters’ hands figures into the plot. (Don’t ask.)

The Kino edition seems to have combined these two previous versions. We get the tinting, the artistic title cards AND the no-hanky-panky scene. When there is a discrepancy between the Paramount and the Shepard title cards, the Kino version seems to go with the Shepard release every time. I have some side-by-side comparisons between the VHS and the Bluray. (It seemed redundant to include the Shepard DVD in these comparisons.)

Click on any of these for a larger view.

Card Type 1: Color tinting added but otherwise the same.
Card Type 2: Same content but more elaborate artwork in the Bluray release.
Card Type 3: Tinting added and the HD scan allows us to see details that were murky before.
Card Type 4: New artwork AND new content. For the record, I always thought the old VHS title card did not make much sense. What difference did it make if her father was a poet? A peer, on the other hand, makes quite a difference.
Card Type 5: Totally changed in both content and artwork (rare)

Bottom line: depending on your level or nerdiness, you may still want to track down the Paramount VHS and the Shepard DVD (now available through Flicker Alley) as each provides a slightly different experience.

Rudolph Valentino fans are going to love seeing their favorite in HD and this is the most complete version of The Sheik that we are likely to see. While there are some slight imperfections, nothing is a deal-breaker and I absolutely recommend this release to movie fans. Enjoy!

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10 Replies to “Unboxing the Silents: The Sheik on Bluray!”

  1. Thanks Fritzi for another interesting, informative and amusing article. I’m not much of a fan of either Valentino or this film (please don’t tell anyone) but it’s good to know that such a popular film is getting a bluray release. And if we’re being nerdy – a British woman called “Lady Diana Mayo” has to be the daughter of a senior peer (an earl or above). Either her father the poet was a peer, or her mother was a senior peeress in her own right. How’s that for nerdy?

    1. Nice nerdiness! I will respond by wondering if the peer –> poet change was a result of a typo. The words look similar if you squint and maybe an American kid who had never read the novel was responsible. I still wonder why they thought it would matter. Her father was a poet and she did not know it but her feet show it, they’re Longfellows. πŸ˜‰

  2. I love it when a silent movie gets red carpet Bluray treatment. These screenshots are stunningly sharp. More more more releases!

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