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On the Bedside Table - The Sheik and I - The Life and Career of Agnes Ayres

  102 years on, there is still a pretty fervent fanbase for Rudolph Valentino in his star making role as Ahmed ben Hassan in the 1921 film The Sheik . I confess, having read the book many moons ago, all I can say about E.M. Hull’s blockbuster novel is eek. It truly is of another time and does not age well at all. Misogynistic and racist are two words that spring immediately to mind. Thankfully, when the film was made, censorship required the more offensive bits of the story and characters to be cleaned up. No real idea on how much further censorship was done on the local state levels, not just Hollywood had strict rules. Having recently revisited the film, it was not as bad as I remembered. Nevertheless, it is right down there with The Young Rajah as my least favorite of Valentino's films. Most of the time when discussing the film, the only person who gets discussed is Rudolph Valentino, slighting almost entirely his leading lady and person with star billing, Agnes Ayres. Agnes Ay

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