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Edith Hardy uses charity funds for Wall Street investments in hopes of buying some new gowns. She loses all the money and borrows from wealthy oriental Tori. When her husband gives her the amount she borrowed, Tori won't take it back, branding her shoulder with a Japanese sign of his ownership. She shoots him. Her husband takes the blame. In court Edith reveals all to an angry mob. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Sex, Race, and Sadism! (with Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, and Cecil B. DeMille)
"East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet." Fannie Ward (as Edith Hardy) is an extravagant socialite who is told by husband Jack Dean (as Dick Hardy) she must cut down on spending, as he meets with business failures; instead, she takes $10,000 from the Red Cross fund she is entrusted with, and gambles it on a "sure thing" - sure enough, she loses the money. Desperate to replace the money, Ms. Ward turns to wealthy party host Sessue Hayakawa (as Tori aka Arakau), who is secretly attracted to her. Mr. Hayakawa gives Ward the money, but wants a sexual encounter the next night. Then, Mr. Dean makes a Stock Market killing, and is rich again. Ward takes $10,000 to pay off Hayakawa, but he won't bargain...
This is a lurid melodrama, filled with sex, race, and sadism; but, it is redeemed by several factors. Cecil B. DeMille directed artfully; his use of light and shadows is notable. The portrayals of Fannie Ward (as "The Cheat" Edith Hardy) and Sessue Hayakawa (as Tori aka Arakau) are among the finest of the era. You'll want to watch this film with the remote nearby, as there are a few scenes you may want to see re-played immediately.
The Japanese community objected, understandably, to the film's racially prejudicial appeal; so Hayakawa's character was changed from Japanese Hishuru Tori to Burmese Haka Arakau, for a 1918 re-release. Presumably, the Burmese community was not amused.
********* The Cheat (12/13/15) Cecil B. DeMille ~ Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean, James Neill
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