Rudolph Valentino The Sheik on Blu-Ray



Title Card (all screen caps courtesy Fritzi Kramer at Movies Silently)

As I posted earlier in April, the silent film community was very excited by the announcement that KINO would be releasing select Paramount silent films on Blu-ray.  The first few films have come out, including today's subject Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik.   In addition, The Son of the Sheik and Zaza starring Gloria Swanson have also been released. You can buy all of these either direct from Kino or sources like amazon.com

It is a rare DVD that I order gets immediately played, The Sheik was an exception.  Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to viewing this.  I was pretty much very happy with the look of the film. As you can see from the screen captures, the image quality for a film that is 96 years old is fantastically clear.  Let me say, there is some print wear, scratches and some flaws which were not really cleaned up, and that is okay.  The image quality is lovely.  The tinting is spot on.




Where the image is a bit jarring is the titles, both the art titles and the plain text, they seem to be in worse shape than I remembered from the out of print Image Entertainment DVD.  I've not looked to do a real comparison between versions.  The color tinting on the titles seems to be blurry or out of registration, like two/toned.  I will do another review of them to make sure it was not just me being overtired when I watch the film. 


The best part of the release, as far as I am concerned, is Ben Model's excellent scoring for the film.  I have noticed that among some of my silent friends they do not like organ scores.  I have always loved them and Ben's score is spot on.  It's lovely, supports the film and the action and really makes this film better for his score.

 

The Sheik has long been much lower on my list of what I recommend as good films to see with Valentino.  It's always been overacted, a bit crude and let's face it, silly, misogynistic and more than a little racist.  That being said, it's much worse in the original E.M. Hull novel.  I found that combined with the excellent score, I liked this film a good deal more than I ever had in the past.  It is still in no way Rudolph Valentino at his best, nor is it for Agnes Ayres.  Adolph Menjou has little to do, but, he is not playing out of character.  Walter Long has always been more of a broad actor, so his mugging is expected. 
 

The sets are done mostly on the cheap, at least the tents and Arabian camp (by way of Oxnard).  The studio sets are a little better, i.e., the town of Biskra and the casino.  Lots can be done with rugs and blankets. 


You can see some of the scratches in this frame grab

All my little caveats aside, this is a fun movie and you will never see it in better form than this.  No negative survives.  There is no nitrate decomposition.  The extras are spare, Valentino funeral newsreel footage and the trailer for Blood and Sand.  I have not listened to the commentary track yet.

I give this DVD a hearty recommendation. 






Comments

Hamlette said…
I'm hoping to pick this up on DVD even though I already have the old Image release. That commentary track intrigues me! And really, there's no such thing as having too much Valentino on my collection.

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