I was actually quite disappointed with this film. It has all the ingredients, all right, but somehow it just doesn't rise! Agnes Ayres is the feisty, determined "Lady Diana Mayo", a non-nonsense British aristocrat who visits Algeria where she meets the eponymous "Sheik Ahmed". She isn't much bothered about him, either way, but he falls hook, line and sinker and secrets her away to his oasis home. She rejects his, to be fair, rather kindly and indulgent advances and wants no truck with his desert ways and traditions (and, in her mind, the humiliation of being his chattel, however well intentioned he may have been). In the best traditions of an Hollywood love story, though, you can guess how their relationship eventually pans out - and when the bandit "Omair" (Walter Long) does some kidnapping of his own, the scene is set for an action-packed (albeit brief) denouement. It is definitely a film that, now in it's centenary year, has a beauty to it. The cinematography is almost perfect and the impact of the photography - especially of Valentino, who does way more flirting with the audience than Ayres does - is spellbinding. The flaw? Well, the story really does plod along. The sands of the desert took as long to form as the plot; and after a while beautiful people and horses need a purpose - and, in my view, it's all too late in coming. It took over $3m at the box office, a phenomenal sum for 1921, and that is partly testament to the star and the topic, but I wonder how many other people it disappointed at the time, too...
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