Manslaughter / The Cheat (Silent)
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- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 2 hours, 39 minutes
- Video: Black & White / Tinted
- Released: April 2, 2002
- Originally Released: 1922
- Label: Kino Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- Mono - English
- Interactive Features:
- Scene Access
- Interactive Menus
Performers, Cast and Crew:
|Starring||Leatrice Joy, Thomas Meighan, Sessue Hayakawa & Fannie Ward|
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Music by||Alloy Orchestra|
Description by OLDIES.com:
Accompanied by a lively score by the Alloy Orchestra, Manslaughter stars Leatrice Joy as a pampered debutante who is forced to confront her irresponsible lifestyle when she causes the death of a traffic cop. To emphasize the debauchery of the Jazz Age elite, DeMille interwove scenes of champagne-soaked parties and Roman orgies, a device that served as a stern warning (while providing a titillating spectacle) to the wayward youth of America.
Mixed messages also abound in The Cheat, in which a society woman (Fannie Ward) allows a wealthy Burmese trader (Sessue Hayakawa) to settle a debt for her, not realizing that in exchange he intends to brand her flesh as his own. Highly influential for its dramatic low-key lighting and its frank depiction of extra-marital intrigue, The Cheat tapped into a vein of post-Victorian female masochism, eroticism and Orientalism of the day, exploring the taboo desire to be forcefully seduced and possessed by a man of another (as in Rudolph Valentino's Sheik films several years later).
Cecil B. DeMille directed this Jazz Age cautionary tale, a lurid melodrama that stars Leatrice Joy as Lydia, a pampered society party girl. When Lydia's carelessness results in the death of motorcycle cop, she must reevaluate her penchant for debauchery and her irresponsible lifestyle. Unfortunately, the prosecutor in her trial is also her fiance, Daniel, whose descriptions of Roman orgies allow Demille to cut between scenes of the Romans and their present day counterparts, thereby offering his commentary on the Jazz Age and setting up a surprising finale.
THE CHEAT (1915):
Cecil B. De Mille's 1915 melodrama was a cause célèbre for its sexual bluntness as well as for its gorgeous cinematography, richly atmospheric lighting, and stunning art direction. Fannie Ward stars as Edith Hardy, a young Long Island society wife who finds herself in deep trouble when she gambles with funds "borrowed" from the Red Cross and loses every penny. Desperate to avoid a scandal, she begs Japanese ivory trader Arakau (Sessue Hayakawa) for a loan. He agrees, but Edith finds out too late that he wants more than money in return. Fannie Ward delivers a delightfully hysterical performance, ripe with post-Victorian masochism. DeMille's skillfull examination of early-20th-century aristocracy, obsessed with taboo sexual fantasies, is astonishingly modern. The lighting technique used, which became known as Lansky Lighting, named after Paramount cofounder Jesse L. Lansky, eclipses the characters in darkness and illuminates them from one side in a gorgeous Rembrandt-like effect. A stunning combination of spectacular DeMille elements makes THE CHEAT an early Hollywood silent classic.