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The Virgin of Stamboul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Virgin of Stamboul
The Virgin of Stamboul.jpg
Film poster
Directed byTod Browning
Written byTod Browning
William Parker
Story byH. H. Van Loan
StarringPriscilla Dean
Wheeler Oakman
Wallace Beery
CinematographyWilliam Fildew
Edited byViola Lawrence (as Viola Mallory)
Distributed byUniversal Film Manufacturing Company
Release date
  • March 27, 1920 (1920-03-27)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Virgin of Stamboul is a 1920 American silent drama film directed by Tod Browning and starring husband and wife team Priscilla Dean and Wheeler Oakman and featuring Wallace Beery in a supporting role.[1]


Based upon a review in a film publication,[2] Sari (Dean) is a beggar girl of the streets of Stamboul, near Constantinople, who attracts the attention of Captain Pemberton (Oakman), a soldier of fortune, who has recruited the Black Horse cavalry to maintain law and order. Sari overhears him being told that her soul is as filthy as the streets, so she goes to pray in a mosque although she knows Turkish women are not allowed to enter. There she witnesses a revenge murder by a sheik (Beery), who then attempts to lure her into his harem. She defies him, and he then tries to purchase her. Pemberton returns from the desert and has determined that he loves Sari. The sheik then carries both Pemberton and Sari to his fortified camp outside the city walls. Sari escapes and gets the Black Horse cavalry to attack the camp, resulting in a battle and rescue.



Universal Studios Carl Laemmle provided director Tod Browning with ample resources to create an authentic replica of Istanbul that featured “bazaars, harems, the desert, and elaborate costuming.”[3][4]


To market the film, Harry Reichenbach in a publicity stunt had a "sheik" from Constantinople with his entourage check into the Majestic Hotel in New York City on March 7, 1920. Newspapers carried the story of his visit looking for an American heiress who had left with a marine just as the first teaser ads for the film were being published.[5] Several ads noted the film's reported production budget of $500,000.[6]


  1. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: The Virgin of Stamboul". Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  2. ^ "The Virgin of Stamboul: Star and Director Create Excellent Turkish Picture". Motion Picture News. New York City: Motion Picture News, Inc. 21 (14): 2985. March 27, 1920. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  3. ^ Sobchack, 2006 p. 22-23: “Browning’s first big hit was The Virgin of Stamboul (1920)...Carl Laemmle let Browning [spend freely] on creating an authentic Istanbul at Universal studios backlot.
  4. ^ Robinson, 1968 p. 125: “From 1918 to 1923 he directed a number of programme pictures for Universal Studios/Universal -most of them routine melodrama, though The Virgin of Stamboul (1920) is admirable”
  5. ^ "Universal Puts Stunt Over: Press Carries Arabian Story and Universal Gets Effective Tie-Up". Motion Picture News. New York City: Motion Picture News, Inc. 21 (14): 2920. March 27, 1920. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  6. ^ "Special Service Section on Priscilla Dean in The Virgin of Stamboul". Motion Picture News. New York City: Motion Picture News, Inc. 21 (21): 4184–87. May 15, 1920. Retrieved April 11, 2014.


  • Rosenthal, Stuart. 1975. Tod Browning: The Hollywood Professionals, Volume 4. The Tantivy Press. ISBN 0-498-01665-X
  •  Sobchack, Vivian. 2006. The Films of Tod Browning: An Overview Long Past in The Films of Tod Browning in The Films of Tod Browning, editor Bernd Herzogenrath, 2006 Black Dog Publishing. London. pp. 21-39. ISBN 1-904772-51-X

External links

This page was last edited on 14 March 2021, at 18:14
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