Barbary Sheep (film)

Barbary Sheep is a 1917 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed through Artcraft Pictures, an affiliate of Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by Maurice Tourneur and stars Elsie Ferguson in her motion picture debut. This picture is said to have George M. Cohan in his film debut as well. It was thought to be a lost film until an 8-minute clip was found in the Gosfilmfond archive.[1][2]

Barbary Sheep
Newspaper advertisement.
Directed byMaurice Tourneur
Produced byAdolph Zukor
Jesse Lasky
Written byCharles Maigne (scenario)
Based onBarbary Sheep
by Robert Smythe Hichens
StarringElsie Ferguson
CinematographyJohn van den Broek
Distributed byArtcraft Pictures
Release date
  • September 10, 1917 (1917-09-10)
Running time
5 reels
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[3] following the close of the London social season, Katharine (Ferguson) suggests to her husband that they take a trip to Africa, and when Sir Claude (Hare) learns that there is excellent hunting, the pair book passage. Out in the desert Katharine meets Benchaalal (de Cordoba), who is proud of his conquests of the feminine tourists. In the moonlight of the beautiful desert Benchaalal declares his love for Katharine. Sir Claude, through accident, learns of Benchaalal and returns home unexpectedly from a hunting expedition. Not finding Katharine in the apartment, he becomes suspicious and going out on the mountain sees Benchaalal and Katharine in the desert below. Benchaalal endeavors to take Katharine into his arms, but Katharine frees herself from the undesired embrace. Sir Charles is about to fire upon Benchaalal when the man is killed by a crazed merchant. Reconciliation and a happy reunion take place between Sir Claude and Katharine.



Like many American films of the time, Barbary Sheep was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. The Chicago Board of Censors ordered cut from Reel 3 the scene of a vision of the woman's murder, from Reel 5 intertitles such as "The Arab is faithless - and to satisfy his lust," and from Reel 6 the intertitle "The son of the desert, fired by his passion, scornful of a husband who has kept no watch over his own" and the vision of the woman's murder.[4]


  1. Progressive Silent Film List: Barbary Sheep at
  2. The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1911-20 by The American Film Institute, c.1988
  3. "Reviews: Barbary Sheep". Exhibitors Herald. New York: Exhibitors Herald Company. 5 (13): 28. September 22, 1917.
  4. "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. 5 (13): 33. September 22, 1917.
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