According to legend, Rudolph Valentino's final film was tongue-in-cheek. It may have been considered so at the time, but to a modern audience, Son of the Sheik is full-blooded, romantic, silent melodrama at its very best and played with complete sincerity by everyone involved, with the exception of a couple of minor characters provided for comic relief. More than anything that would follow in the fast-approaching sound era, this desert romance relied thoroughly on sex appeal. Valentino's own, of course, bordered on mythical proportions, but Vilma Banky was awarded just as many loving close-ups and she photographed luminously. The culmination of all this cinematic lust remains Valentino, on his indigo horse, kidnapping dancing girl Banky, whom he mistakenly accuses of having betrayed him. "I may not be your first victim," he hisses to a prostrate Vilma (via a title, of course), "but, by Allah, I shall be the one you remember!" And like Agnes Ayres before her, and despite her ferocious "I hate you! I hate you!" -- Banky falls just that much more in love. Ayres herself, looking rather dowdy less than five years after her triumph in the original
The Sheik (1921), plays young Ahmed's doting mother, and a title grandly informs the audience that she had "courteously consented to resume her role -- as a favor to Mr. Valentino and this picture." Valentino himself consented to play both the young hothead and his father, the original Sheik, and he does it flawlessly. The five years between the two productions changed silent screen acting for the better, and Valentino chose to portray the son more subtly than he did the father, who remained very much as he was in 1921. Had Valentino lived, Son of the Sheik would undoubtedly have put him back on top.
All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein