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David S. Cass Sr.
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A wealthy family is preparing for Christmas in their usual stylish fashion. They hit on a bright idea that will make them outstanding during this holiday season among their friends. They will adopt a "lost man" and bring him to their house for the holidays. They find a news story of a washed-up actor who has attempted to commit suicide and bring him to their home. The actor proves far more than they bargained for and he shows them some real truths about giving and living.Written by
Paramount originally acquired the rights to "The Cheaters" as a vehicle for Carole Lombard and John Barrymore. After Lombard's tragic death the property was sold to Republic as a potential vehicle for Binnie Barnes. See more »
Gratitude in most men is usually a secret desire to receive greater benefits.
The Cheaters (also known as The Castaway0 is something of an unknown Christmas movie to the younger cinephile. Or perhaps because it came out of the low-budget Republic Pictures? It's simply just a forgotten one. So much so you will be hard pushed to see it mentioned on any Christmas film lists that flourish around the yuletide season. The film is based around an original story written by Frances Hyland and Albert Ray and concerns a sophisticated family inviting a washed up actor to their home for Christmas. As things progress we learn that this family are using the holiday season to secure a rich uncle's inheritance, but naturally all is not going to be plain sailing.
Heading the cast list is Joseph Schildkraut (The Shop Around the Corner), Billie Burke (The Wizard of Oz) and Eugene Palette (The Ghost Goes West). It's directed by Republic house jobber Joseph Kane, with photography and scoring coming from Reggie Lanning & Walter Scharf respectively.
So is the film any good though? Well it's safe to say that anyone looking for another old Christmas movie to boost the crimble spirit can safely add this one to their rota. It's very much in the mold of the likes of The Bishops Wife, which of course is no bad thing at all as a point of reference. My chief irk with the picture is that it flatters to deceive. By the midpoint the film has all options open to it, even threatening to be darker and perhaps leaning towards an ending of some surprise. But sadly, and without me crying out for any Pottersville type misery here, the film reverts to type and settles for a warm mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. Again, that's no bad thing at the season we choose to watch it in, but really it promised to be something more.
Still, it's a comfortable recommendation for the heart warming seeker. 6/10
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