Saturday, April 6, 2013

1915 - THE CHEAT, early silent film from DeMille

The best of Cecil B DeMille's films are his silent ones.  In these films he literally ran amok with lots of unsubtle sexuality and at times sadism.  In the last 10 minutes he would stick in some hooky morality lesson to appease the censors but who was he kidding?

The Cheat is a very early DeMille film and doesn't exactly have a lot of his visual style but it does show the beginning of his technique. 

The most interesting aspect of The Cheat is the casting of Sessue Hayakawa as the oriental businessman who brands everything he owns.  In this case it's the wife of a businessman who steals money from the Red Cross in order to sustain her lavish lifestyle.  The wife also borrows money from Hayakawa who wants his pound of flesh and it's bring out the branding iron for her.   Hayakawa is remembered as the Japanese commander in The Bridge on the River Kwai, but in this film he's the dashing cad.

The Cheat is loaded with racism, sexism, misogyny and lots of sick stuff.  DeMille is clearly trying to get away with as much as he possibly can in this film.  He crams in a lot for a film that is under an hour

59 minutes

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