Cecil B. DeMille embraces the Cinderella story– with his own twist, of course. Agnes Ayres plays a beautiful seamstress hired as the bait in a honey trap designed to keep businessman Forrest Stanley at the negotiating table. What he doesn’t know is that she’s really married to a nasty criminal. Since this is DeMille, we also get a fairy tale fantasy sequence with see-through Rococo costumes. Silly but all in good fun.
Sometimes goofy, sometimes creepy, occasionally romantic but always entertaining. Rudolph Valentino is a sheik who falls for an Englishwoman, Agnes Ayres. What do you do when the lady you love thinks you’re a creep? Kidnap her and confirm all her suspicions, of course! This film reportedly had women fainting in the aisles. Modern women are more likely to be rolling in the aisles with laughter. An amiably clueless kitsch fest.
[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Our heroine realizes that kidnapping is okay if the criminal is handsome. Anyway, he’s not really an Arab. Interracial romance averted (yes, people were really worried about that back then), the happy couple is united.[/toggler]
If it were a dessert it would be:
Mayonnaise Cake. Weird ingredients but it somehow tastes good. And the ladies love it!
Availability: There are a lot of home video editions of The Sheik. The best is the Image release but it is now out-of-print in disc format. It is still available via digital download (for U.S. markets). Alpha has also released a version but I have not viewed it. It likely has a canned score.
A Cinderella-of-the-Tenements tale, Forbidden Fruit is also a decadent slice of the twenties, as viewed through the extravagant lens of Cecil B. DeMille. Lavish production values, crazy costumes and a surprisingly clear-headed look at a marriage gone wrong. Plus, you know, Cinderella dream sequences. This is DeMille after all.
Continue reading “Forbidden Fruit (1921) A Silent Film Review”
Since Accidentally Hilarious is in the works, I decided to post a selection of GIFs from one of the very best cheesy films of the silent era, The Sheik. It’s the film that put Valentino on the map but it is so… so… Well, anyway, it’s a ton of fun if you get into the spirit of the thing. (The spirit of the thing being pure kitsch.)
Where does one even begin? Well, here, I guess. Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres engage in an eyelid twitching contest. I think he wins, don’t you?
So he takes her to the desert to show her his etchings. Agnes soon realizes that he has no etchings at all and plans an incredibly wily and cunning escape. By which I mean she flails her arms and screams “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!”
But it all turns out all right because he rescues her from an ugly guy and turns out to be a Spaniard in disguise. Of course.
You can read my review here, should you be so inclined.
Here it is! My very first video review. It’s been in the works for six months and I am delighted to be finally unveiling it.
I am covering one of the most famous (and kitschiest) silent films ever made, one that even non-fans have heard about: The Sheik. I discuss the film’s background, the casting of Valentino and then launch into a review of the film itself. And all in just ten minutes? Is such a thing possible?
I hope you enjoy it!
The meet-n-greet scene in The Sheik sets the pace for all of the over-the-top events to come. Much flicking of eyelids and brows between Rudolph Valentino and Agnes Ayres.
In other news, this is kind of how I look at the dessert menu in a restaurant.
“Ah, my little blueberry cheesecake, you shall be mine forever.”
“Mmm, my petite flourless chocolate cake, I shall win you in the end!”
“Oh, you white chocolate macadamia cookies, playing so coy!”
Rudolph Valentino’s early death at the height of his career was a tragedy. It also opened up a floodgate of what-if’s. Would he have survived the transition to sound? Would his career have fizzled even before that?
Me? I think he would have survived. Mr. Valentino had a talent for light comedy, when he was allowed, and he could sing. During the talkie transition, musicals were the absolute rage.
Here is Rudy serenading Agnes Ayres in The Sheik. And, as a special bonus, here is the 1923 recording of him singing the very song quoted in the intertitles, Kashmiri Song.
Hope that brightens your day.
Okay, okay, just back away slowly. Keep calm. Don’t startle him….
This scene always kind of cracked me up. Agnes Ayres is not exactly clad for escape but then again, Rudolph Valentino isn’t really clad for pursuit. Knee breeches are just impractical in my opinion. Yes, I realize revolutions were fought and won in them but I dare say most gentlemen would prefer longer trousers. On the plus side, I totally love this impractical but stunning dress! Absolutely gorgeous.
On a side note, this scene reminded me of Norma Shearer lunging at the camera in the final scene of The Women.
I previously posted this in three parts. Here are all the story cards in one easy post.
Why bother to really watch a movie when you have all the tools on hand to pretend that you watched it! Here is the quick and easy guide to The Sheik, Valentino’s signature film (for better or for worse).
Him: You’re cute.
Her: I am culturally, morally and ethnically superior. (pulls gun)
Him: We can settle this debate in the desert– OF LOVE! (grabs her and carries her off to his tent)
Her: Unhand me, you brute! (starts crying)
Him: You shall be my bride, my little calzone!
Her: No, no, a thousand times no! (continues weeping)
Him: She’s upset? But why? Just for that, I’m picking out all her outfits for a week.
Her: Listen, Coco Chanel, I hate you and your stupid cigarette holder.
Him: But I can sing! La la la la la! And, my best friend is coming for a visit.
Her: That’s the last straw. I’m outta here. Oof! Or not.
Him: Hey, what’s the idea? If you had escaped, you would have gotten away!
Her: Just for that, I’m wearing my ugliest dress.
Him: Don’t be mad! I have a present for you! A gun! (gives her a gun)
Her: Golly, he’s not so bad after all.
Him: (to himself) Why isn’t it any fun to annoy her? I’m usually into that sort of thing.
Her: Help! Help! I’ve been kidnapped by someone less handsome than you!
Him: Unhand her, you brute! (gets bashed on head in the process)
Her: Thanks for saving me. Sorry they bashed you on the head and whatnot…
Him: And I’m not even an Arab really!
Her: Oh, you silly bunny! I knew the whole time you were Italian.
Her: Whatever. (kisses him)
Is everyone ready for Act II of The Sheik? (You can read part 1 here)
To be continued…
Valentino went back to the old Middle East well one more time. Ahmed, the son of the title character of The Sheik, loves a dancer named Yasmin. After coming to believe that she betrayed him to bandits, Ahmed seeks revenge. Valentino-style. Valentino’s final screen appearance is also one of his best.
Continue reading “Son of the Sheik (1926) A Silent Film Review”
He’s a sheik. She wears chic clothes. He lives in a tent. She lives in a manor. He fights enemy tribes. She fights hat hair. Getting a date with her is out of the question.
Backup plan: Abduction. Obviously.