The Cheat

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The Cheat (1915) is a drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, and Jack Dean, Ward's real life husband.

The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.



Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward) steals charity money in order to invest it in stocks. When she loses the money, she turns to a wealthy Burmese man (Sessue Hayakawa) for a loan. He gives it to her, but when she later attempts to return it, he says the repayment he wants is her. When she resists, he brands her and declares her his property. Edith shoots him. Her husband Richard (Jack Dean) takes the blame for the crime.


Originally, Hayakawa's character was described as a Japanese ivory merchant. Because Japan was an American ally at the time, and because Japanese-Americans protested the portrayal of a Japanese as a sinister sleaze, the title cards and the character's name were changed. [1] The film cost $16,540 to make, and grossed $137,364.[1]


  • Fannie Ward - Edith Hardy. Dean and Ward married in January 1916 and remained married until Dean's death in 1950.
  • Sessue Hayakawa - Hishuru Tori (original release) / Haka Arakau (in 1918 re-release)
  • Jack Dean - Richard Hardy
  • James Neill - Jones
  • Yutaka Abe - Tori's Valet
  • Dana Ong - District Attorney
  • Hazel Childers - Mrs. Reynolds
  • Arthur H. Williams - Courtroom Judge (as Judge Arthur H. Williams)
  • Raymond Hatton - Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
  • Dick La Reno - Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
  • Lucien Littlefield - Hardy's Secretary (uncredited)


The film was remade in 1923 with George Fitzmaurice as director and Pola Negri and Jack Holt starring. This version is now lost. In 1931 Paramount again remade The Cheat, with Broadway mogul George Abbott as director and starring Tallulah Bankhead.

"The Cheat" was also remade in France as "Forfaiture," directed by Marcel L'Herbier and released in 1937. This version, however, makes significant changes to the original story even though Hayakawa was cast once again as the sexually predatory Asian man.

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