Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The Cheat (1931)
I haven't watched many of Tallulah Bankhead's films, and never really thought of her as a pre-code glamour gal, but after viewing The Cheat I see her in a very different light. The is the third time the story was filmed, after the 1915 and 1923 versions. This version was directed by George Abbott and stars Tallulah Bankhead, Irving Pichel, and Harvey Stephens. When Elsa Carlyle (Bankhead) foolishly gambles away $10,000 on a hunch she uses a charity's money to replace her losses. Her husband Jeffrey (Stephens) is constantly scolding her because of her extravagant spending, so when he refuses to invest in a supposed "sure thing" tip on the stock market Elsa takes cash from their safe at home and invests the money herself. The "sure thing" turns out to be a flop, so now she is in deep trouble.
When her husband secures a deal at work, he tells her that they're rich and offers to payoff her debts. Elsa now thinks her troubles are over but they are really only beginning. When the time comes to pay off the slime-ball, money won't satisfy him. As a sort of fetish, Livingstone has small dolls made up to resemble his female conquests, as sort of trophies, and he won't be satisfied until he adds Elsa to his collection.
Director George Abbott directed three other films in 1931, Secrets of a Secretary with Claudette Colbert, Stolen Heaven with Nancy Carroll, and My Sin with Bankhead and Fredric March. Pichel starred as Fagin in the 1933 film version of Oliver Twist and appeared in many other films. He also directed many films including The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and the science fiction classic Destination Moon (1950).
With a running time of about 68 minutes it goes by pretty quickly, and a good thing too because I don't think I could have taken much more of that scumbag casanova.
Overall a pretty good film with a nice twist at the end. So if you have an hour or so to kill, check it out ... I think you'll enjoy it ...