The Cheat (1915 film)
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille (uncredited)|
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille
Jesse L. Lasky
|Written by||Hector Turnbull
|Editing by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||13 December 1915|
|Running time||59 minutes|
The Cheat (1915) is a drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, and Jack Dean, Ward's real-life husband. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Socialite Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward) has extravagant tastes. Her stockbroker husband Richard (Jack Dean), with all of his money tied up in a very promising investment, insists she send back an expensive dress she has just bought. When she asks an acquaintance what he could do with $10,000, he assures her he could double it overnight. She gives him the Red Cross funds entrusted to her as the charity's treasurer.
The next day, however, he reports that the money is gone. Hishituru Tori (Sessue Hayakawa), a wealthy Japanese admirer, overhears and offers her a loan, if she is willing to pay the price of her virtue.
The same day, her husband is jubilant that his gamble has paid off. She asks him for $10,000, which she explains is to cover her losses playing bridge. She visits Tori and tries to pay him back, but he refuses to cancel their bargain. She threatens to kill herself, but he is so confident that she is bluffing that he hands her a pistol. When she continues to resist his advances, he subdues her and brands her on the back of the shoulder with the seal with which he marks all of his property. Edith grabs the gun and shoots him in the shoulder, then flees. Richard, having followed her after she left their home, finds Tori and picks up the gun. He is held for the police by Tori's servants. When questioned, he confesses to the crime to protect his wife.
When Edith visits him in jail, Richard orders her to remain silent. During the trial, both he and Tori testify on the stand that he was the shooter. However, when he is found guilty, Edith rushes to the judge and announces she did it. When she shows the brand to all, the judge and officers of the court have great difficulty keeping the outraged spectators from attacking Tori. The judge sets aside the verdict, and Edith and Richard depart the courtroom.
Originally, Hayakawa's character was described as a Japanese ivory merchant. Because Japan was an American ally at the time, and because Japanese-Americans protested the portrayal of a Japanese as sinister, the title cards and the character's name (and nationality) were changed to Haka Arakau, a "Burmese ivory king". The film cost $16,540 to make, and grossed $137,364.
Leading actors Ward and Dean (1874-1950) married in January 1916 and remained married until Dean's death in 1950.
- Fannie Ward as Edith Hardy
- Sessue Hayakawa as Hishuru Tori (original release) / Haka Arakau (in 1918 re-release)
- Jack Dean as Richard Hardy
- James Neill as Jones
- Yutaka Abe as Tori's Valet
- Dana Ong as District Attorney
- Hazel Childers as Mrs. Reynolds
- Arthur H. Williams as Courtroom Judge (as Judge Arthur H. Williams)
- Raymond Hatton as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- Dick La Reno as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- Lucien Littlefield as Hardy's Secretary (uncredited)
The film was remade in 1923, with George Fitzmaurice as director and Pola Negri and Jack Holt starring. This version is now lost. In 1931, Paramount again remade The Cheat, with Broadway mogul George Abbott as director and starring Tallulah Bankhead.
The Cheat was also remade in France as Forfaiture (1937) directed by Marcel L'Herbier. This version, however, makes significant changes to the original story, even though Hayakawa was cast once again as the sexually predatory Asian man.
See also 
- The House That Shadows Built (1931 promotional film by Paramount)
- The Cheat at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Cheat at the Internet Movie Database
- The Cheat is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Cheat at Silentera.com
- DVD listings of The Cheat at silentera.com
- "The Cheat". Kino Film. Kino International. Retrieved 2007-07-30.