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The Sheik & The Son of the Sheik
The Arab characters were painted with yellow ochre makeup, palm trees were constructed of wood and canvas and the oasis was manufactured and trucked to the back lot. The Sheik (1921) became Rudolph Valentino’s most memorable movie, trading on lacquered Orientalism and a vision of dangerous male sexuality unbridled by civilization, Western or otherwise. The film promised sinful thrills, a glimpse into the harem, but was more notable for extended scenes of the eventually thwarted rape of a reckless English woman seeking adventure under the desert son.
Valentino stared as the absolute lord of a Bedouin clan. Opposites attract—the dark tribal chieftain and the wan Englishwoman, who becomes the object of kidnapping by a rapacious rival sheik. Arabs don’t fare well in this film’s portrayal, especially when a surprise surfaces at the climax: Valentino’s sheik is actually English and Spanish. Box-office success led to the 1926 sequel, Valentino’s final film.
The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004
Cards on the table: I thought The Who should have disbanded after Keith Moon’s death—and I don’t think I was entirely wrong. Post-Moon albums sound pretty slight in contrast with The Who’s accomplishments during their first decade together. However, a live set, a Blu-ray (or DVD) plus two CDs, showed The Who in 2004 as still energetic, proficient and entirely credible as performers. The show includes “I Can’t Explain” and other hits from across their career.
In the opening segment of this horror anthology, Jovanka Vuckovic’s “The Box,” a boy asks to look inside a box on a stranger’s lap. His face darkens; he never touches food again. Chilling in its quietly mounting anxiety and unanswered questions, “The Box” measures the distances that widen between mother and son, eventually between husband and wife. The four novella-length films comprising XX are by female directors, evidence that women are advancing into formerly male strongholds.