The Cheat
Asian Diaspora On Screen

The Cheat

with live keyboard accompaniment by Bob Merrill
May 25, 2023

This event occurred as part of the 22/23 Hop Film Event season. This is an archived view.

A twisty tale of greed, lust and revenge, starring early-Hollywood male heartthrob Sessue Hayakawa.

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The Cheat Trailer


This 1915 silent film classic from Cecil B. DeMille stars Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa, the first actor of Asian descent to achieve stardom in the US. Often typecast as the taboo, sexually dominant villain—and The Cheat is no exception in this regard—Hayakawa was, ironically, a heartthrob among American audiences and one of the first male Hollywood sex symbols. The Cheat positions him in a love triangle with a married couple played by Fannie Ward and Jack Dean, Ward's real-life husband. Despite being burdened with blunt, exoticized representations characteristic of the time, Hayakawa elevates his onscreen persona with a riveting, intoxicating performance in this propulsive, twisty tale of greed, lust and revenge.

D: Cecil B. DeMille, US, 1915, 59m

With opening remarks by Professor of Film and Media Studies Mark Williams

Programmed as part of the Asian Diaspora on Screen series in collaboration with the Dartmouth Asian American Studies Collective (DAASC).

Bob began playing piano when he was 5 years old and has played bass and piano professionally for more than 40 years, spanning a spectrum of styles.

He can often be found playing jazz at Hartland's Skunk Hollow Tavern or Hanover's Canoe Club, or playing private engagements with the Woodstock-based band Swing Machine.

The Cheat (1915), a lurid yellow-peril melodrama with Sessue Hayakawa, remains interesting today not only for its gripping vulgarity but also for the spectacular innovations in dramatic lighting DeMille created with his cameraman, Alvin Wyckoff.”

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Asian Diaspora On Screen
Asian Diaspora On Screen

We've partnered with the Dartmouth Asian American Studies Collective (DAASC) to program a weekly series highlighting the migrations of Asian peoples all over the globe. Classic independent films,...

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