The Son of the Shiek - Los Angeles Film Festival

The Los Angeles Conservatory is a non- profit organization that works to recognize and revitalize historical and cultural resources of Los Angeles County and their program 'Last Remaining Seats' a program designed to showcase classic movies and raise funds to preserve these resources.

The silver screen at it's finest

Through this organization I had the privilege of viewing the movie classic, 'The Son of the Sheik' at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

This evening was not only sponsored by this organization, but by Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine and a great time was had by all. Before the screening of this great film, instead of being subjected to a long list of 'coming attractions' we were treated to 20 minutes of live entertainment. With the help of Maxwell DeMille, we were taken in a time machine back to the roaring 20's and treated to a showcase called 'Broadway Rhythm' featuring Mora's Modern Rythmists and the Hollywood Hornets complete with dance numbers which included, the Tango, Ballroom, and the Charleston. It was a feast for the eyes and the ears. Then there was the feature of the evening, 'The Son of The Sheik'.

This film was originally released in 1926 and was among the last of a dying breed, the silent film. Robert Israel's phenomenal organ accompaniment enabled the audience to enjoy this movie classic.

Before Brad Pitt, there was Valentino.

 Before Brad Pitt, or even Clark Gable, there was Valentino. I can hear most of you thinking, 'the fashion designer?' No the actor. Rudolph Valentino, the great lover of the silver screen with his untimely death, solidified his place as a movie icon. This film, which was to unfortunately be his last, it is as entertaining today as it was almost 80 years ago. Valentino stars as Ahmed son of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (also played by Valentino) a rich desert hunk who falls head over heels in love for a traveling dancing girl named Yasmin who dances to help support her father Andre' and his band of thieves. Enamored by her beauty, the smitten prince woos her and pledges his love for her and they share stolen moments together under the desert moon. Their budding romance however is however to be short lived. One of her father's thugs who wants Yasmin for himself catches wind of Yasmin's romance and get some of the other thieves to help him crash their secret meeting that evening. Yasmin is dragged back to the camp and the thieves hold the Prince captive for a ransom. The nemesis of the two lovers lies to the prince telling him that Yasmin was bait so they could rob him and hold him for ransom. The prince is eventually found by some of his fathers' bodyguards and they help him escape. Empowered with the false information, Ahmed bitterly vows revenge on the woman he thinks broke his heart.

Feeling betrayed, the young prince plots revenge.

Shortly after Ahmed's escape Yasmin crosses his path again, but this time romance is not on the young prince's mind. He captures her and holds her captive and treats her harshly, accusing her of betraying him. Yasmin tries to reason with him declaring her innocence, but it falls on deaf ears. Ahmed's father gets wind of his son's activities and encourages him to release the girl. He reluctantly does so and has one of his escorts accompany her. On their way back, they are confronted by her father's band of thieves. Upon taking her away from her escort, the nemesis, taunts Yasmin with fact he lied to Ahmed about her involvement in his kidnapping as they drag her away. The servant overhears the conversation and with Yasmin's help, escapes and tells the prince the truth. Humbled, Ahmed seeks to find Yasmin and beg her forgiveness. The remainder of the film is a heart racing mixture of fights and desert chases and Ahmed seeks to reclaim the love he has lost, and in Hollywood fashion, he gets the girl in the end.

In true hollywood fashion, he gets the girl in the end.

This film is timeless and is worth having in your movie collection, but I tell you there is nothing like seeing it from the balcony in an old movie theatre accompanied by a live organ. It is an unforgettable treat. For more information on the Los Angeles Conservancy go to: www.laconservancy.org For more information on Rudolph Valentino go to: http://www.geocities.com/~rudyfan/rudy.htm

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