Friday, August 26, 2016

This Saturday: Valentino's 'Son of the Sheik'
with live music at Brandon (Vt.) Town Hall

Valentino in 'Son of the Sheik.' Showtime at Brandon (Vt.) Town Hall is Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.

It's been a good month for media attention!

Earlier this month, I got a nice write-up in the Boston Globe. (See the link on the right of this page.)

This week, the Addison Independent, a twice-weekly paper in Middlebury, Vt., published a terrific piece by Charmaine Lam, a young writer on their staff.

What's great about Charlene's piece is not that it's about me. It's great because Charmaine was able to turn a long and rambling phone interview into a piece that covered a lot of ground, is easy to read, and completely and totally accurate. (Even more miraculously, it made me sound something like coherent!)

I've had to do this, and let me tell you: it's not easy, especially if the subject is totally new to you, which was the case with Charmaine.

So congratulations to her on a job well done. I expect it will bring new folks to our next screening in nearby Brandon, Vt., which is coming up this weekend.

For this one, we turn to drama: Rudolph Valentino in 'Son of the Sheik' (1926). Showtime is Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at Brandon Town Hall.

More details in the press release pasted in below. Hope to see you there!

And special thanks to the many sponsors who support the Brandon series, including Pam and Steve Douglass, sponsors of the Valentino program.

* * *

Valentino and Vilma Banky in 'Son of the Sheik' (1926).

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Iconic screen lover Rudolph Valentino stars at Brandon (Vt.) Town Hall on Saturday, Aug. 27

Silent romantic epic 'Son of the Sheik' to be screened with live music on 90th anniversary of star's tragic early death

BRANDON, Vt.—He was the cinema’s first sex symbol, causing hordes of female moviegoers to flock to his pictures throughout the 1920s.

He starred in films designed to show off his Latin looks, his smoldering eyes, and his dancer’s body. And his untimely death in August, 1926 prompted mob scenes at funeral in New York.

He was Rudolph Valentino, who remains an icon for on-screen passion long after he caused a sensation in the 1920s.

One of Valentino’s most acclaimed films will be screened with live music on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at Brandon Town Hall and Community Center, Route 7 in Brandon, Vt.

The screening is free and open to the public. Donations are accepted to help support the town hall's ongoing renovation and restoration. The screening is sponsored by Brandon residents Pam and Steve Douglass.

Live music will be provided by accompanist Jeff Rapsis, a New England-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent film presentations.

In 'Son of the Sheik' Valentino tackles two roles, as a father and his son.

Ahmed (Rudolph Valentino), the son of an Arab sheik and a kidnapped English gentlewoman (Agnes Ayres), loves local dancing girl Yasmin (Vilma Banky).

When he slips out of his father's heavily guarded compound to woo her, he is kidnapped and held for ransom by a group of bandits led by Yasmin's father (George Fawcett) and Ghabah (Montagu Love), the Moor to whom she is betrothed.

Can Valentino escape the clutches of his enemies and win the heart of his true love?

'Son of the Sheik' will be preceded by selected short subjects.

'Son of the Sheik' was a sequel to 1921's 'The Sheik,' an immensely popular film that established Valentino as the silent screen's great lover.

Then actor's final film, ‘Son of the Sheik’ was released following his death on Aug. 23, 1926 from complications from peritonitis. Valentino was only 31 years old.

The death took place at the height of his career, inspiring a day-long mob scene at the actor’s New York funeral.

An Italian immigrant who arrived penniless at Ellis Island in 1913, Valentino rose to superstar status in a series of silent pictures that enflamed the passions of female movie-goers from coast to coast and around the world. But he was more than a pretty face—during his career, critics praised Valentino as a versatile actor capable of playing a variety of roles; his achievements included popularizing the Argentinian tango in the 1921 drama ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

But Valentino's brief stardom was defined by the ‘Sheik’ roles, which brought a new level of exotic sexuality to the movies, causing a sensation at the time. In theaters, women openly swooned over Valentino’s on-screen image, especially in roles such as the ‘Sheik,’ which featured elaborate costumes. At its peak, his popularity was so immense that it inspired a backlash among many male movie-goers, who decried Valentino’s elegant image and mannerisms as effeminate.

Valentino’s sudden death fueled his status as a legendary romantic icon of the cinema. For years, a mysterious woman dressed in black would visit his grave at the Hollywood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, leaving only a single red rose.

Valentino was aware of his effect on audiences, saying that “Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas upon which the women paint their dreams.”

The Valentino program continues another season of silent films presented with live music at the Brandon Town Hall and Community Center. The series provides local audiences the opportunity to experience silent film as it was intended to be shown: on the big screen, in good-looking prints, with live music, and with an audience.

“These films are still exciting experiences if you can show them as they were designed to be screened,” said Rapsis, accompanist for the screenings. “There’s a reason people first fell in love with the movies, and we hope to recreate that spirit. At their best, silent films were communal experiences in which the presence of a large audience intensifies everyone’s reactions.”

For each film, Rapsis improvises a music score using original themes he creates beforehand. None of the the music is written down; instead, the score evolves in real time based on audience reaction and the overall mood as the movie is screened.

Upcoming events in Brandon Town Hall's 2016 silent film series include:

• Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016: Charlie Chaplin in 'The Kid' (1921). In Chaplin's breakthrough feature, a story with "a smile, and perhaps a tear," the Little Tramp raises an orphan. Sponsored by Bill and Kathy Mathis in memory of Maxine Thurston.

• Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016: Chiller Theatre, 'The Man Who Laughs' (1928). Get into the Halloween spirit with this creepy Gothic thriller starring Conrad Veidt. Sponsored by Omya, Inc.

Rudolph Valentino is 'Son of the Sheik' will be shown on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at Brandon Town Hall and Community Center, Route 7, in Brandon, Vt.

Admission is free; free will donations are encouraged, with proceeds to support ongoing renovation of the town hall. For more information, visit For more info on the music, visit

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