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Harry Hervey
Hector Turnbull (silent film script)
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Release Date:
28 November 1931 (USA) See more »
Love, lust, possession, money, social standing, and addiction. Elsa Carlyle is impulsive and a gambler; though loved by her husband Jeff... See more » | Full synopsis »
User Reviews:
A terrific Bankhead, some odd Chinese elements, and a typical decadent early 30s drama See more (12 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Tallulah Bankhead ... Elsa Carlyle
Harvey Stephens ... Jeffrey Carlyle

Irving Pichel ... Hardy Livingstone
Jay Fassett ... Terrell
Ann Andrews ... Mrs. Albright
William Ingersoll ... Croupier
Hanaki Yoshiwara ... Japanese Servant
Willard Dashiell ... Judge
Edward Keane ... Defense Attorney
Robert Strange ... District Attorney
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jimmy Granato ... Orchestra Musician (uncredited)
Porter Hall ... Leslie (uncredited)
Arthur Hohl ... Defense Attorney (uncredited)

Millard Mitchell ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Henry Warwick ... Butler (uncredited)

Directed by
George Abbott 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Harry Hervey 
Hector Turnbull  silent film script

Cinematography by
George J. Folsey  (as George Folsey)
Film Editing by
Emma Hill (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Frank Heath .... assistant director (uncredited)
Fred Scheld .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Ernest Zatorsky .... sound recording engineer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Edward Hyland .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Joseph Ruttenberg .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Charles Salerno Jr. .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Frank Serjack .... still photographer (uncredited)
Other crew
Ruth St. Denis .... choreographer (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
74 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Did You Know?

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.See more »
Jeffrey Carlyle:I love you. I didn't marry you because I thought you could spell or add, but because of who you are.See more »
Movie Connections:
Remake of The Cheat (1915)See more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
A terrific Bankhead, some odd Chinese elements, and a typical decadent early 30s drama, 28 February 2015
Author: secondtake from United States

The Cheat (1931)

The plot here is wonderfully bizarre and brazen, an early pre-Code film that still has a few creaks and cracks in its production standards. And the leading woman—the "cheat" I suppose—is the wonderful Tallulah Bankhead, who is worth it alone.

Everything is pretty well contained here to keep the filming manageable, so there are lots of interior scenes that look and feel like sets, well lit and straight forward. And there are parties and flirting and the suggestion of impropriety left and right. Most of all there is that weird wealth that a few people had in the Depression as the rest of the country is sliding into ruins.

So Elsa (Bankhead) is a profligate partier and gambler, and her husband is a good guy who works too much. That leads, of course, to her finding amusement where she can. And does. But this gets her into money trouble, first, and then into a pact for sex that she doesn't quite realize she will have to follow through on.

A theme in the background, almost pasted on but with a certain amount of intrigue, is a Chinese them. One of the characters is wealthy enough and eccentric enough to live with Chinese decorations and customs. (This is not uncommon—see the bizarre Edward G. Robinson 1932 film "The Hatchet Man" and think also of the mahjong craze of the 1920s.)

Mostly this is about a woman's honor, and her realizing that her craziness has put her in an awful situation. When it comes to a dramatic climax, there is still a final courtroom scene that is pretty wild and fun. Check it all out. It's not a classic, but it's just odd enough and Bankhead just good enough to justify a close look.

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