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 Peiffert ...
M. Charbonnier (as Henri Pfeifer)
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

 
Charming
22 August 2010 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

I've long wanted to see this French classic, and now Criterion has finally given me the chance via their Eclipse label (the box set also includes three later Guitry films, too). I have to say, I was a little disappointed after hearing it mentioned so much as one of the defining films of the era. But it's good. It's the film's central, original technique that gives the film it's fame, I think, but also what ultimately undermines it. The whole story is told from the point of view of a writer (played by Guitry himself) who is writing his autobiography at a café. Most of the film is told in flashbacks, with the gimmick that the author narrates every second of those flashbacks. Any dialogue that happens comes from the lips of Guitry, whether it be his character speaking or another. It's cute - at first. But narration is very difficult to pull off in films. It just so rarely feels necessary, since, unlike in a book, the audience can always see what is happening. A lot of film viewers just plain dislike it, and, with almost any film you see that uses it, you can find someone complaining about it. In The Story of a Cheat, I found the narration initially amusing. But after nearly ninety minutes of it, I have to admit I got bored with the gimmick. The story itself is very frivolous. It's charming, but, in the end, it doesn't equal all that much. It has a similar "champagne on corn flakes" feel that René Clair's films often do, but it isn't anywhere near as memorable as Clair's best French work.


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