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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.

The Sheik
(1921)

 

It is a well known and often told story that Rudolph Valentino was a largely unknown actor when he appeared in The Sheik (1921), the film that shot him into the rarified heights of an international film star.

The film, based on a ‘scandalous’ British novel, seems more than a bit melodramatic today, with its ‘forbidden’ interracial love elements and its sappy story of a privileged and self-determined society woman who is knocked-down a peg or two by the desert and its inhabitants. However, Valentino (who does more than his share of ridiculous eye-popping in the film in lieu of better acting devices — fault director George Melford for not keeping it under control) holds the film together by virtue of his magnetic presence alone. There are plenty of shots of Valentino flashing that million-dollar smile that made him the top matinee idol of the 1920s. The film, nonetheless, does have a number of exciting action sequences that help it rise above the average film fare of 1921. — Carl Bennett

Kino Classics
2017 Blu-ray Disc edition

The Sheik (1921) [original release version], black & white, 75 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region A Blu-ray Disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in pillarboxed 16:9 (1920 x 1080 pixels) progressive? scan AVC-HD MPEG-4 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard BD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 30 May 2017.
Country of origin: USA

This Blu-ray Disc edition has been mastered in high-definition from 35mm archival materials.

Supplementary material includes audio commentary by author Gaylyn Studlar; archival footage taken at Valentino’s funeral; and original theatrical trailer of Valentino’s Blood and Sand (1922).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region A Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
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Image Entertainment
2002 DVD edition

The Sheik (1921) [original release version], color-toned black & white, 86 minutes, not rated,
with The Son of the Sheik (1926), black & white, 69 minutes, not rated, Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties (1923), black & white, 13 minutes, not rated, The Sheik’s Physique (192?), black & white, 3 minutes, not rated, and [Pathé News: Rudolph Valentino Dead!] (1926), black & white, 4 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID1371DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-13712-5.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 5.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 224 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 20 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $24.99.
Release date: 25 June 2002.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 5 / additional content: 7 / overall: 7.

Comparing this DVD edition to the VHS edition released in 1992 by Paramount Home Video, one immediately realizes that the Paramount edition utilized a reedited and retitled rerelease print for its video transfer, and that this new DVD edition has utilized for its transfer an excellent color-toned 35mm print of the original theatrical release version. Owners of the Paramount videotape may choose to hold onto it as a document of the reissue print.

The Blackhawk Films print for this Image DVD features a broad range of greytones and very good image detail, with very slight print damage in the form of light speckling, scrapes, and emulsion scuffing. The transfer is full-frame but is also generously cropped at the extreme edges of the film frame to render the maximum picture (as long as your television doesn’t excessively crop overscan area). Some intertitles will be slightly cropped on some TV monitors, but that appears to be the fault of the camera framing rather than the transfer framing.

We’re not impressed by the music score performed on MIDI synthesizers by Eric Beheim (performing under the moniker, the “Café Mauré Orchestra”), however. We feel that the synthesizer sounds that are achieved are irritating at best and undermine the musical compositions themselves.

Featured with The Sheik on this DVD is the film’s sequel, The Son of the Sheik (1926). The Son of the Sheik DVD review.

Among the supplementary material is Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties (1923) is documentary produced by the young David O. Selznick during Valentino’s contract dispute with Famous Players-Lasky, and served the purpose of keeping Valentino before the moving-going public during his vaudeville tour. Valentino was a judge in a beauty contest held in New York, with 88 contestants, including future film star Eugenia Gilbert. The film is padded with a hodge podge of footage taken during the event and of the contestants afterwards, but the film served its purpose for Valentino and made Selznick a goodly sum of money at the beginning of his career as a film producer. The transfer has been made from an excellent 35mm print, with mild speckling and moderate frame jitters. The film was previously available as a supplement on laserdisc.

The Sheik’s Physique (192?) is an odd little fiction film of Valentino (complete with long, pointed sideburns) driving to the beach and, to wow female viewers, changing into a swimming suit to spend a leisurely afternoon relaxing. Having fallen asleep, Rudy awakens to discover that he is late for an undefined appointment, realizes that his car is gone, and he must hitch a ride back into town. The film, which is likely exerpted from a longer compilation reel, has little purpose other than to keep new Valentino footage on the world's cinema screens until he formally returned to film acting. Transferred from, what appears to be, an excellent 35mm print.

[Pathe News: Rudolph Valentino Dead!] (1926) is a portion of newsreel footage of the funeral of Valentino. Includes footage from The Son of the Sheik and an incidental glimpse of Pola Negri. Transferred from an excellent 35mm print that is lightly speckled, moderately jittery and slightly damaged.

All of the films on this Image DVD feature music scores performed on synthesizers by Eric Beheim, who has written extensive notes on the scoring for the insert booklet. The disc also features an alternate music track of the 1937 reissue music and sound effects track for The Son of the Sheik.

This DVD edition of Valentino’s sheik films, produced for home video by David Shepard, encompasses a five-year span during which Rudolph Valentino rose to fame, fought studio control (almost disasterously), successfully returned to films, and ultimately died a premature death at age 31. With its wealth of Valentino films in great prints, this DVD is a great buy for both value and quality.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Hollywood’s Attic
2015 DVD edition

The Sheik (1921) [original release version], black & white, 86 minutes, not rated.

Hollywood’s Attic, 3231D, UPC 6-44827-32312-8.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 10 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $8.99.
Release date: 9 July 2015.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 6 / additional content: 0 / overall: 5.

This DVD-R edition has been mastered from what appears to be a 35mm print, which may originate from the Blackhawk Films collection, but the low-resolution disc encoding makes the picture unnecessarily blurry. On high-resolution monitors, the horizontal lines of resolution can clearly be seen — even when viewed on an HD system capable of deinterlacing the picture and resolution upscaling.

The film is accompanied by a good music score performed on an upright piano by Keith Taylor.

Not a bad edition of the film but the disc will play better on a computer screen than on a high-resolution big screen.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Instant Vision
2004 DVD edition

The Sheik (1921), black & white, ? minutes, BBFC Classification U.

Instant Vision Limited, DVDIV081, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 2 PAL DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (? x ? pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, £9.99.
Release date: 19 April 2004.
Country of origin: England
It is unknown what quality of materials have been utilized for this PAL British edition.

North American collectors will need a region-free PAL DVD player capable of outputting an NTSC-compatible signal to view this edition.

 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 2 PAL DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
Passport Video
2009 DVD edition

The Rudolph Valentino Collection: 5 Fabulous Films (1918-1925), black & white, 420 minutes total, not rated,
including The Sheik (1921), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Passport Video, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Three single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; five-disc DVD keepcase, $19.98.
Release date: 11 August 2009.
Country of origin: USA
This three-disc collection of Rudolph Valentino films may have been mastered from 16mm reduction prints. All of the films in the collection have previously appeared on DVD in high-quality editions.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Reel Enterprises
2007 DVD edition

The Sheik (1921), black & white, 80 minutes, not rated.

Reel Enterprises, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $9.95.
Release date: 2 March 2007.
Country of origin: USA
This budget DVD-R edition has likely been mastered from 16mm reduction print materials.

It is unknown which version of the film is presented (original or rerelease version).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Nostalgia Family Video
2010 DVD edition

The Sheik (1921), black & white, 73 minutes, not rated.

Nostalgia Family Video, 3231D, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD-R disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $19.99.
Release date: 2010.
Country of origin: USA
This edition was likely mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
NOSTALGIA FAMILY VIDEO has discontinued business and this edition is OUT-OF-PRINT.
DDC Labs
200? DVD edition

The Sheik (1921), black & white, ? minutes, not rated,
with Intolerance (1916), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

DDC Labs, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One double-sided?, single-layered?, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono? sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles?, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 2005?.
Country of origin: Canada
This cheapy edition from Canada also features a presentation of Intolerance (1916).

It is unknown which version of the film is presented (original or rerelease version) or the quality of source materials used for the video transfer.

Other RUDOLPH VALENTINO films available on home video.

Other silent era ADOLPHE MENJOU films available on home video.

 
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