It was with his character in “The Sheik” that Rudolph Valentino cemented the image of ‘homme fatal.’ This role imbued him with the mystery of the desert, piquing the imaginations of women around the globe. In fact, after the release of this film ‘sheik’ became a code word for men who exuded danger, adventure and sexual allure, those whose charms were seen as irresistible. The term was also used derisively in some quarters, but in the long run that had little effect on Valentino’s popularity with fans. His brand of exoticism triumphed, and the imitators (other screen ‘latin lovers’) could never replace him.
I invite you to view both Sheik films and make up your own minds. Was this indeed the role he was destined to play, the one he is often most remembered for now?
~ Wayne Hatford