~The Sheik~
~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).

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)
~391-143: Rudolph Valentino & Agnes Ayres~
~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
~391-186: Adolphe Menjou & Rudolph Valentino~