A Salute to Modern Standards: ALLOY ORCHESTRA’s “The Son of the Sheik”

(c) Ivan Singer

(c) Ivan Singer

Presented by World Music/CRASHarts
Box 5 Productions
Directed by Ken Winokur
Performed by Ken Winokur, Roger Miller, Terry Donahue
Performing live to The Son of the Sheik

Saturday, March 7, 2015
Somerville Theatre
Davis Square
Somerville, MA
World Music/CRASHarts on Facebook
Alloy Orchestra on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Info about “The Son of the Sheik” can be found here.

(Somerville, MA) To sum up, “The Son of the Sheik” is a silent film starring the classically handsome Rudolf Valentino in his last role. He plays both Ahmed, the Sheik’s son, and the Sheik. Ahmed falls madly in love with a penniless yet beautiful dancing girl, Yasmin (Vilma Banky). Yasmin’s thieving father (Bull Montana) and his nasty band capture and rob Ahmed. They convince the gullible lover that Yasmin only loves him for his money. After daring adventures across the desert sands, Ahmed rescues Yasmin and takes her post haste to the Casbah.

The orchestrations by members Ken Winokur, Roger Miller, and Terry Donahue heightened the action of the film. African and Eastern accents highlighted the action and the romance, pulling heart strings and raising cackles. They had timing so perfect that it was easy to forget that they were playing live. Great moments included legato sweeps by the orchestra that matched the picturesque camera angles, and quirks that magnified onscreen comedy. They made the movie so believable that one would never know it was actually shot in Arizona.

Rudolf Valentino stands up to modern standards but “Son of the Sheik” does not. It is a racist, sexist dive into rape culture costumed as a romantic adventure in Africa. Thanks to the talents of Alloy Orchestra, this movie was not only watchable but also highly enjoyable and engrossing.

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