~The Sheik~
1921
~Plot Synopsis~
At an oasis in the Sahara Desert, Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Rudolph Valentino) presides over a
marriage market, at which weathly tribesmen purchase brides, and ensures that his friend Yousaef
(George Waggner) is reunited with his sweetheart Zilah (Ruth Miller). Ahmed and his men then
take some of the women to be sold in Biskra. Biskra, a large town where old traditions co-exist with
the ways of foreign tourists, is the current home of the high-spirited Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes
Ayres). Despite the protests of her brother, Sir Aubrey (Frank Butler), Diana is leaving the following
morning on a tour of the Sahara, accompanied only by an Arab guide, Mustapha Ali (Charles
Brinley), and his men. Diana is fascinated by the arrival of Ahmed and questions a gendarme, who
tells her that the sheik will be hosting an entertainment at the casino, during which men will be able
to gamble for the brides. Diana also learns that only Arabs are allowed entrance, and that the Paris-
educated sheik is a rich tribal prince whose word is law in Biskra. Intrigued, Diana buys a dancing
girl’s costume, then sits with the other women in the casino. When it is Diana’s turn to be displayed,
she balks, and Ahmed deduces that she is not an Arab. After a bemused Ahmed escorts her out,
Mustapha reveals that he is taking Diana into the desert, and Ahmed smiles. Soon after Diana
begins her journey, Ahmed and his men ambush her. Upon being taken to Ahmed’s tent, Diana asks
him why he has kidnapped her, and he replies, “Are you not woman enough to know?” After Diana
rejects the sheik’s attempts to seduce her, he instructs his French valet, Gaston (Lucien Littlefield),
and Zilah to attend her. Seeing Diana’s distress at her captivity, Ahmed keeps his distance, but
insists that she wear traditional Arab garb instead of her western clothing. After a week of “sullen
obedience,” Diana learns that Ahmed is to be visited by his friend, famed French novelist Dr. Raoul
de St. Hubert (Adolphe Menjou). Diana is horrified that someone from “her” world will see her as a
captive and assume that she has become Ahmed’s concubine. Seeing her concern, Ahmed orders
Gaston to return Diana’s clothes to her, but when he kisses her, she still reacts coldly. Upset that
his attentions repulse her, Ahmed leaves to meet Raoul. Later, while riding with Gaston, Diana
broods on the upcoming encounter with Raoul, and runs away. In Biskra, Raoul reprimands Ahmed
for abducting Diana, but the sheik protests that when an Arab wants a woman, he takes her. In the
desert, Omair the bandit spots Diana alone and is about to seize her when Ahmed suddenly appears
and saves her. Diana confesses that she ran away because of her shame over facing Raoul, and that
night, Raoul discerns how uncomfortable Diana is. As the days pass, Raoul and Diana become
friends, much to the dismay of Ahmed, who mistakenly assumes that Raoul is falling in love with
her. One afternoon, as Raoul talks with Diana, news arrives that he is needed to tend to an injured
man. Raoul notes Diana’s fear that Ahmed has been hurt, and her relief that is it someone else
instead. Ahmed also sees her concern and is gratified. Meanwhile, in Omair’s stronghold, the bandit
orders his spies to bring him news of Ahmed’s “white woman.” At the oasis, Ahmed returns Diana’s
pistol to her when she promises not to run away, and she goes riding with Gaston. After Diana
leaves, Raoul rebukes his friend for his treatment of her and begs him to return her to Biskra.
Ahmed protests, then realizes that he has been in the wrong. Overcome with remorse, Ahmed tells
Raoul to escort Diana to Biskra, then rides off alone. Meanwhile, Diana has been captured by Omair’
s men, and Gaston has been wounded. When Ahmed rides through the desert, he finds the words,
“Ahmed, I love you,” which Diana had scribbled into the sand before her capture. Ahmed is thrilled
until he finds Gaston and learns what has occurred. Ahmed takes Gaston to Raoul, then assembles
his men and rides for Omair’s fortress. As Omair is attempting to assault Diana, Ahmed and his men
gain entry into the fort and battle their way to Omair’s inner sanctum, where Ahmed strangles his
foe. Ahmed is wounded during the battle, and Diana anxiously accompanies him to the oasis. As
Diana and Raoul watch over the unconscious Ahmed, Raoul reveals that Ahmed is the orphaned
son of an English father and a Spanish mother. As a child, Ahmed was adopted by the former sheik,
and was reared as an Arab. Diana then prays to God to take her instead of her beloved, and her
tender words wake Ahmed. Overjoyed, the lovers embrace.  

Plot Synopsis from afi.com
Directed by: George Melford

Written by: Monte M. Katterjohn

Based on the novel The Sheik by Edith M. Hull (London, 1919).
~Cast~

Rudolph Valentino ...  Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan
Agnes Ayres ...  Lady Diana Mayo
Ruth Miller ...  Zilahl (a marriage market prospect)
George Waggner ...  Yousaef (tribal chieftain)
Frank Butler ...  Sir Aubrey Mayo
Charles Brinley ...  Mustapha Ali (Diana's guide)
Lucien Littlefield ...  Gaston (French valet)
Adolphe Menjou ...  Raoul de Saint Hubert
Walter Long ...  Omair (the bandit)
Sally Blane ...  Arab child (uncredited)
Natacha Rambova ...  Extra (uncredited)
Loretta Young ...  Arab child (uncredited)
Polly Ann Young ...  Arab child (uncredited)
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~391-143: Rudolph Valentino & Agnes Ayres~
~391-186: Adolphe Menjou & Rudolph Valentino~
~Remaining Credits~

Produced & Released by: Paramount Pictures

Cinematography by: William Marshall
Makeup Artist: George Westmore
Stunts: Buddy Roosevelt
Presenter: Jesse L. Lasky

Length: 8 Reels
Runtime: 80 Minutes
Released: November 20, 1921
Other Links That You Might Find Helpful to you for this film:

imdb.com - general information (data base form)
allmovie.com - plot synopsis
tcm.com - general information also including plot synopsis
afi.com - general