The Sheik (1921)

The Sheik


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this silent film, an English woman, Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres), is kidnapped by the passionate and handsome Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Rudolph Valentino). As Diana struggles to escape her captor, she is again taken hostage by a ruthless desert scoundrel (Walter Long), and it is up to the sheik to save her.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Edith Maude Hull, Monte M. Katterjohn
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 28, 1992



as Sheik Ahmed Ben Hass...

as Diana Mayo

as Raoul de Saint Huber...

as Omair

as Sir Aubrey Mayo

as Sir Aubrey Mayo

as Arab Child

as Mustapha Ali
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Sheik

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 20, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Landmark film that was never all that hot with a solution so jaw-droppingly racist that it's hard to believe.

September 4, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It's one of those films that should be seen by film buffs and those interested in films as history.

Full Review… | April 14, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

February 26, 2008
Old School Reviews

July 6, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Sheik


A predictable romance drama, with some adventure. It's pretty good, but the ending was bad if you ask me, I didn't care for it, it was silly.

AJ Verser

Super Reviewer


Agnes Ayres as Diana Mayo was introduced as an adventurous Englishwoman, but in reality she spends most of the time cowering in cliched leading lady fashion. She thinks Rudolph Valentino's Sheik Ahmed is a savage as well as the whole Middle Eastern culture, and she is terrified of hoards of Arabians on horses. Not really up for trying new things. Ahmed may be handsome and have a Paris education (with a French butler and best friend who is a French novelist), but the fact remains that he does kidnap Diana, hold her against her will, and almost rapes her. St. Hubert (Menjou), the novelist, helps to awake Ahmed's conscience. A bandit is introduced who equally wants to take the Englishwoman as property, but who is presented as more brutal and therefore the worse of the two options. Through a bit of romantic fantasy and psychological delusion, Diana begins to fall in love with her captor. Despite the lavish sand dunes, set decorations, and costumes, it really is a racist kind of story with a romance that shouldn't happen. In the end, we find out The Sheik's surprise background and this is supposed to ease further objections. Sorry.

Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

Rudolf Valentino died at the age of 31, he became a greater star than ever--or rather, something greater still than a star, a cult. There's no one quite like him for whispering sweet, silent nothings into his heroine's ears, or blowing smoke rings...

As for the film The Sheik (directed, for the record, by George Melford), it proved nearly as much of a sensation as its star's subsequent funeral. Droves of women spectators swooned in the aisles and Arab motifs became a filmic fad for several years to come. So very successful was it, in fact, it spawned a sequel, Valentino's last film, The Son of the Sheik.

Cinema Films

Super Reviewer

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