38 user 19 critic

The Cheat (1915)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 13 December 1915 (USA)
A venal, spoiled stockbroker's wife impulsively embezzles $10,000 from the charity she chairs and desperately turns to a Burmese ivory trader to replace the stolen money.


Cecil B. DeMille (uncredited)


Hector Turnbull (scenario), Jeanie Macpherson (scenario)
1 win. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Fannie Ward ... Edith Hardy
Sessue Hayakawa ... Hishuru Tori (original release) / Haka Arakau (in 1918 re-release)
Jack Dean ... Richard Hardy
James Neill ... Jones
Yutaka Abe Yutaka Abe ... Tori's Valet
Dana Ong ... District Attorney
Hazel Childers Hazel Childers ... Mrs. Reynolds
Arthur H. Williams Arthur H. Williams ... Courtroom Judge (as Judge Arthur H. Williams)
Learn more

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Edith Hardy uses charity funds for Wall Street investments in hopes of buying some new gowns. She loses all the money and borrows from wealthy oriental Tori. When her husband gives her the amount she borrowed, Tori won't take it back, branding her shoulder with a Japanese sign of his ownership. She shoots him. Her husband takes the blame. In court Edith reveals all to an angry mob. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


I will show "The Cheat," regardless of the Japanese trying to stop the picture. It is one of the best pictures ever made by any firm. And it is Paramount. (Print Ad- Urbana Daily Democrat, ((Urbana, Ohio)) 9 May 1916)


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The surviving copy is from the 1918 re-release, and so the date on the check and the date in the newspaper have been altered from 1915 to 1918 in an attempt to make it seem like a contemporary film. See more »


According to the date on the check, the shooting occurred on September 17th. However, the next day's newspaper which reports the crime is dated April 27th. See more »


Edith Hardy: [lying about how she lost $10,000] I lost it playing bridge- I was afraid to tell you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Fannie Ward's name appears above the title. The other two principal actors (as well as Ward) are credited in inter-titles with their character names as they appear in the movie. See more »

Alternate Versions

'Robert Israel (IV)' provided a new music score (copyrighted 1994) in the 59-minute version shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel. See more »


Featured in Hollywood: Trick of the Light (1980) See more »

User Reviews

An entertaining antique
24 May 2004 | by creightonhaleSee all my reviews

I think modern audiences tend to be too harsh on some of our earliest films.

We tend to forget that directors, actors, and others were in the process of creating a new art form. As a result, we should look at these films within their own parameters. And as an example of what directors were just learning to do, "The Cheat" is one of the best films of its year. People who rent or view films from this time period should realize that, almost without exception, dramas are going to be Victorian in their plots. They should also expect that the acting will be "acting" (couldn't italicize this word), broad pantomime, and histrionic.

Yes, "The Cheat" is melodramatically Victorian and most of the acting is broad, but it distinguishes itself with some innovation and some subtlety. (I'm assuming that DeMille's use of expressionistic lighting was innovative; he did, indeed, receive flak from the money-men for such techniques.) Here, we see DeMille uses silhouettes and low-key lighting not only to create mood but also to relay certain plot points. The subtlety comes to us from Sessue Hayakawa. His technique contrasts greatly with the other actors and as a result, he stands out. You can't take your eyes off of him. He's still most of the time and his acting could be called zen-acting, much like "the method," which became popular in the 50s. He exudes charisma as the villain, and you certainly see why he was the first Asian star of American films, or one of its first big stars of any background for that matter. (Have there been other Asian box office draws besides Jackie Chan?) I certainly became a fan after seeing this movie on TCM. I immediately ordered the DVD, which contains a fine print, and searched for other silent films he was in. The only one I've been able to find so far is "The Secret Game" from 1917. "The Tong Man" (1919) is supposed to be available, but I've yet to find anyone with it in stock.

In summary, this film is worth catching for Sessue Hayakawa.

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Release Date:

13 December 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Marca de Fogo See more »


Box Office


$17,311 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(1994 alternate)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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