In Panama, notorious nightclub hostess Carlotta kills a man in self-defense and is arrested for murder. Defending her at her trial is Dick Grady, a lawyer who has wasted his talent on ... See full summary »
Thunder Below is a 1932 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Richard Wallace and written by Sidney Buchman and Josephine Lovett. The film stars Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Bickford, Paul... See full summary »
Love, lust, possession, money, social standing, and addiction. Elsa Carlyle is impulsive and a gambler; though loved by her husband Jeff, she's spoiled and selfish, concerned with social standing. Meanwhile, Jeff wants to keep a lid on spending while he completes business deals that could make them rich. One night, on a hunch, she bets and loses big at a casino, then she doubles her problems with more impulsive decisions. Hardy Livingston, a wealthy Casanova just back from the Orient, makes a play for her. Elsa dallies with Hardy, but soon, his insistence and her dire financial affairs seem destined to lead to adultery. Who's the cheat? Written by
Tallulah Bankhead was 29 when she made "The Cheat," in 1931, and she came to film after a successful theatrical career. Thirteen years later, she made Lifeboat and looked as if she had aged 30 years in 13.
Bankhead plays Elsa, the adored wife of Jeffrey (Harvey Stephens). She's a compulsive gambler and winds up owing $10,000 (the equivalent of $140,000 in today's money). A man who is obviously after her, Hardy Livingstone (Irving Pichel) gets her the money, but of course he wants payment -- the only kind of payment acceptable from a woman in precode! This is kind of a wild movie which could have been wilder with better casting. Tallulah's supporting cast just didn't cut it. To play the sadistic Livingstone, I would have preferred someone who had a little more bite to him, and Harvey Stephens is plain vanilla. Someone suggested Robert Montgomery for the husband and Charles Laughton for the lecher. I'm not sure she would have gone as far as she did with someone like Charles Laughton. Maybe Cyril Ritchard? Warren William? Tallulah's acting and glamor makes the film interesting to watch, and you'll love the Chinese costume Livingstone gives her to wear for a benefit.
This film was directed by the great Broadway director, George Abbott, who died in 1995 at the age of 107. He's the reason, I think, that this film moves so well, unlike many films of this era where people tend to talk more slowly and the action seems to drag as people get used to sound.
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