7.7/10
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The Story of a Cheat (1936)

Le roman d'un tricheur (original title)
A charming scoundrel reflects on his exploits, from childhood through to manhood.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Le tricheur / The Cheat (mature)
Marguerite Moreno ...
L'aventurière / The Countess
...
Henriette
...
Serge Abramovich
...
La voleuse / The Jewel Thief
Elmire Vautier ...
L'aventuriere, jeune fille / The Countess (younger)
Serge Grave ...
Le tricheur, petit garçon / The Cheat, as a boy
...
Mme Morlot - la tante
...
La chanteuse / Redhead (singer)
Pierre Labry ...
M. Morlot
Pierre Assy ...
Le trichur, jeune homme / The Cheat (young man)
Henri Pfeifer ...
M. Charbonnier
Gaston Dupray ...
Le garçon de café / Waiter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Adolphe Borchard ...
Himself (in prologue)
Myriam Borsoutsky ...
Herself (in prologue)
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Storyline

Life story of a charming scoundrel, with little dialogue other than the star/director's witty narration. As a boy, only he survives a family tragedy when he's deprived of supper (poisonous mushrooms!) for stealing...concluding that dishonesty pays. Through years of dabbling in crime and amusing adventures, two women appear and reappear in his life, a dazzling blonde jewel thief and a stunning brunette gambler. Finally, he meets the mysterious Charbonnier who had saved his life in World War I, leading to the surprising next phase in his career... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Racy Confessions of a Gay Boulevardier

Genres:

Comedy

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

26 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Story of a Cheat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first movie to use a voice-over narration. See more »

Crazy Credits

Most of the credits are not printed but spoken in the director's opening narration. See more »

Soundtracks

Et v'là pourquoi
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Sacha Guitry
Music by Adolphe Borchard
Performed by Fréhel
See more »

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User Reviews

A Tricheur That's A Real Treat
27 June 2004 | by See all my reviews

Although Sacha Guitry acted in London in 1920 he remains practically unknown and/or forgotten here as, I would venture to guess, he is in the United States. One of the better Art Houses in Paris ran a mini season of his movies a couple of years ago but even in France he is a spent force. This is a pity because he had a great deal to offer to both stage and screen. A prolific playwright who authors close to one hundred plays and has them performed clearly has something to offer and even allowing for changes in taste and fashion it remains an impressive track record. It's difficult to find an English comparison; Gerald du Maurier was roughly contemporaneous but he only acted and never wrote a line, Peter Ustinov WAS an actor-director but began his career when Guitry was entering his final phase. The Cheat dates from 1936 and is considered in many quarters to be Guitry's finest film. I haven't seen enough titles to say yea or nay but this is certainly a charming and stylish entry. For 1936 Guitry could be said to be ahead of his time by introducing us in the very first frames not only to his cast - and even here it is far from a standard 'still' and a name; he opts for playfulness, 'where is .... ' and calling until the actor/actress emerges to take a bow - but also to his technicians from camera operator to sound recordist, composer, and film editor. At the end of all this he begins his story - in a manner later 'borrowed' in 'Kind Hearts And Coronets' - by sitting at a cafe table, producing pen and paper to which he commits his 'memoirs'. Although we cut back to Guitry at his cafe table several times his story is told largely via his narration and follows his career from the time his entire family - all eleven members - expire after eating mushrooms picked earlier that day which turned out to be toxic and from which he, as a ten-year old is forbidden to partake as a punishment for his earlier 'stealing' a few sous from the till in the family shop. The boy draws a moral lesson from this incident namely, it doesn't pay to be honest, and then he is off and running to a career of conning and cunning. It is, of course, all done with style and charm, in fact we would have to wait for Cary Grant to replicate these qualities to the same degree in the vastly overrated piece of cheese 'To Catch A Thief'. It's unlikely that film buffs in the UK or US will have the opportunity to catch this unless it appears on video/dvd one day, as they say in France, quel dommage. 7/10


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