The College of Central Florida continues the International Film Series with “The Sheik” on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Online discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. will be hosted by Linda Levitt. Screenings will take place at the Ocala Drive-In theater, 4850 S. Pine Ave., Ocala, for free. Each film can also be screened from the safety of one’s own home at a time of convenience via free, internet streaming services.
This film features Paris-educated Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan, who is known for providing brides for wealthy Arabs. Currently celebrating its centennial, this Hollywood silent film solidified Rudolph Valentino’s stardom and earned him the nickname “the Great Lover.” In a classic example of Orientalism in Western art, Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Valentino) encounters Lady Diana Mayo (Agnes Ayres), a headstrong Western woman, in the African desert and kidnaps her. He intends to seduce her, and over time she develops affection toward her captor. Despite the presence of an independent female lead, the film reflects the social norms of the 1920s, offering a romantic drama particular to its time. This film has a total run time of 86 minutes.
Levitt, the host for the Wednesday discussion, teaches communication and media studies at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. Her primary research sits at the intersection of memory studies and media, considering media’s role in shaping understandings of the past. Levitt’s book, “Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery: Hollywood Forever,” was published by Routledge in 2018.
Valentino is one of Hollywood’s first heartthrobs. At the time of his death, at only 31, Valentino’s memorial service was a national event that inspired over 100,000 grieving fans to swarm the streets of New York City. A mysterious Lady in Black would pay her respects, kneeling in prayer before Valentino’s crypt and leaving behind flowers in honor of the Great Lover every subsequent year after his death, a tradition that continues today at Valentino’s memorial site at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
A mysterious Lady in Black will grieve the Great Lover and honor Valentino’s memory by giving a single rose to the first 12 vehicles in attendance at the Ocala Drive-in screening of “The Sheik” on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m.
For links to the screening and discussion, and for a full series list and more information on the International Film Series, contact Wendy Adams at 352-873-5800, ext. 1546, or visit www.CF.edu/filmseries.