The Son of the Sheik is a 1926 American silent adventure/drama film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Bánky. The film is based on the 1925 romance novel of the same name by Edith Maude Hull, and is a sequel to the 1921 hit film The Sheik, which also stars Rudolph Valentino. The Son of the Sheik is Valentino’s final film and was released nearly two weeks after his death from peritonitis at the age of 31.
At the time of the film’s release, Rudolph Valentino was attempting to make a comeback in films. He rose to international stardom after the release of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Sheik in 1921, both of which were box office hits and solidified his image as “the Great Lover”. By 1924, however, Valentino’s popularity had begun to wane after he appeared in two box office failures, Monsieur Beaucaire and A Sainted Devil, both of which featured him in roles that were a departure from his “Great Lover” image. He also squabbled over money with Famous Players-Lasky, the studio he was signed to, which eventually led to him walking out on his contract. Famous Players-Lasky eventually released Valentino from his contract and he signed with United Artists in 1925. In an effort to capitalize on the success that Valentino had achieved with The Sheik, United Artists’ president Joseph M. Schenck bought the rights to Edith Maude Hull‘s novel Son of the Sheik and cast Valentino in the dual role of father and son.
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I teach several classes for the Stephens College Low-Residency MFA in Screenwriting, including History of Screenwriting. In fact, I created the curriculum for that course from scratch and customized it to this particular MFA in that it covers ‘Screenwriting’ (not directors) and even more specifically, the class has a female-centric focus. As part History of Screenwriting I, the first course in the four-class series, we focus on the early women screenwriters of the silent film era who male historians have, for the most part, quietly forgotten in their books. In this series, I share with you some of the screenwriters and films that should be part of any screenwriters education. I believe that in order to become a great screenwriter, you need to understand the deep history of screenwriting and the amazing people who created the career. — Dr. Rosanne Welch