The Cheat (1931 film)

This article is about the 1931 film. For other uses, see Cheat (disambiguation).
The Cheat
Directed by George Abbott
Written by Harry Hervey
Hector Turnbull
Starring Tallulah Bankhead
Harvey Stephens
Irving Pichel
Jay Fasset
Ann Andrews
William Ingersoll
Hanaki Yoshiwara
Willard Dashiell
Edward Keane
Robert Strange
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Edited by Emma Hill
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 28, 1931 (1931-11-28)
Running time
74 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Cheat (1931) is an American Pre-Code drama film directed by George Abbott and starring Tallulah Bankhead and Harvey Stephens.[1] The film is a remake of the 1915 silent film of the same name, directed by Cecil B. DeMille.


Elsa Carlyle (Tallulah Bankhead), in contrast to her charming personality and loving relationship with her indulgent husband, Jeffrey (Harvey Stephens), is a compulsive gambler and spendthrift who is overly concerned with social standing and appearances.

Jeffrey tries to convince Elsa to avoid spending while he makes investments in an effort to provide them with enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of their lives, but she had impulsively placed a large bet and immediately is $10,000 in debt. Later, after helping raise money for a charitable cause, she steals this money and invests it in a stock scheme, and promptly loses it as well when the stock tanks. Hardy Livingston (Irving Pichel), a wealthy lady's man, has his eye on Elsa and finds his chance to trap her into an adulterous affair by giving her the money she needs to repay the charity money.

The next day Jeffrey informs her his investments have paid off and they are now fabulously wealthy. She attempts to repay the money she had borrowed from Livingston, however he wants sexual favors instead. Elsa says she would rather commit suicide; Livingston hands her a pistol and invites her to do so and when she does not, he attempts to rape her and she responds by taking the pistol and shooting him.

A suspicious Jeffrey has followed her and takes the blame for the shooting. As Jeffrey is on trial, Livingstone claims Jeffrey had tried to cheat him out of a debt and then shot him. To protect Elsa, Jeffrey refuses to deny this, and so Elsa stops the trial by shouting out the truth and showing the court the brand Livingstone had placed on her. The judge drops the charges against Jeffrey, Elsa promises again to stop gambling and the film ends.



  1. Hall, Mordaunt (December 12, 1931). "THE SCREEN; Tallulah Bankhead in a Drama of Love and Money". New York Times.
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