The sound version of this film was considered lost for decades, until a rusty film cannister - found abandoned in a Bondi alleyway - yielded several of the sound sequences. Some comprised of entirely new footage shot especially for the sound version, others were silent sequences dubbed over, while others were a combination of the two, cutting between newer and older shots. See more »
This is a fine example of silent film-making by a trio of enterprising sisters. The McDonagh sisters made a number of films together in the late 1920's and early 1930's, all self-funded. "The Cheaters", in its full 95 minute silent version, is magnificently and imaginatively directed and photographed. The acting is mostly strong and naturalistic and the plot entertaining.
I felt it lost pace in the long middle section in which the love story takes place, particularly after a spectacular "sting" sequence in a jewellery store. But it moves to a strong finale, before petering out into a standard happy ending. But it is the use of light and shadow, the tracking shots, the excellently filmed close-ups, stirring dissolves, and the imaginative settings that make this film so exciting.
And just look at that shot with the incomplete Sydney Harbour Bridge as a back-drop, and when they complete the bridge through animation! Marie Lorraine, who was really Isobel McDonagh,is good in the lead role and is matched well by the broodingly handsome Josef Bambach. And Arthur Greenaway is very strong as the vengeful thief - and check out his groovy wall-safe!
A very satisfying film experience of great originality (eg the Fates spinning away in a cave as an opener!). I think Paulette McDonagh could have been a really great film-maker given the opportunity.
The video version from Screensound Australia also shows a few scenes from the hastily re-shot talkie version. With obvious continuity problems this version looks vastly inferior - re-takes were done almost 2 years after the original was completed. It didn't need words - they had faces!
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