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Manslaughter / The Cheat [Import]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean, James Neill, Yutaka Abe
  • Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Writers: Alice Duer Miller, Hector Turnbull, Jeanie Macpherson
  • Producers: Cecil B. DeMille, Jesse L. Lasky
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Silent, NTSC, Import
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • Release Date: Sept. 1 2004
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000633T0

Product Description

From the Back Cover

In the silent era, Cecil B. DeMille stood at the forefront of Hollywood directors, a visual stylist who created fashionable fables of women caught in tempests of temptation. 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 Haykawa) 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).
Manslaughter
From the novel by Alice Duer Miller Photographed by Alvin Wyckoff and Guy Wildy with Whomas Meighan, Leatice Joy, Lois Wilson. Music by The Alloy Orchestra.
The Cheat
Screenplay by Gector Turnball and Jeanie Macpherson. Director of Photography: Alvin Wyckoff. Art Director: Wilfred Buckland with Fannie War, Sessue Hayakawa. Music compiled and directed by Robert Israel. Produced for Video by David Shepard.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
I was very impressed and completely enthralled by both features on this DVD and highly recommend it for anyone who values a quality silent drama. Both films are powerful dramas with outstanding acting, great suspense and in "Manslaughter" some deep and meaningful messages. Not everyone might get the same out of this movie, by the sounds of it, but I for one found it exceptionally good. You can take three sides: for spoilt brat Lydia, her desperate maid with a sick boy, or O'Bannon the District Attorney who is torn between love for justice and love for Lydia. There is a theme of soul-searching and finding yourself, getting your priorities right, and the uselessness of a debauched life of parties and booze. There are various things to take away from this great movie, so take your pick!
For me, the musical score by the Alloy Orchestra was superb and perfectly suited, esp. the fast, lively Jazz for the party scenes and fast cars. I also found it a very interesting and nice change from the usual standard piano or organ score that faithfully plods along to most silent films, so it might not sound like 'an orchestra falling down the stairs' to everyone!
The Cheat is a shorter and even more suspenseful film in some ways, and its picture quality is better than Manslaughter, but I feel they complement each other well on this DVD. Both of them highlight women living a dangerous lifestyle on the edge and its consequences - no different back then than today, no doubt, but despite the age of these movies, still as stark and powerful as if they were new. Definitely rivetting viewing!
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Format: DVD
Two examples of why Cecil DeMille was a success. The Cheat is a fine film full of subtle touches. The lighting and composition are breathtaking, and it's fascinating to see Sessue Hayakawa far far before his "Bridge on the River Kwai" role.
Manhunter is a different item, but no less fascinating. It's a totally commercial film and even shows an artictic and commercial decline from the earlier work. There is hardly a subtle moment in it, it's over the top all the way with the throttle wide open. Leatrice Joy and Lois Wilson, both unjustly forgotten stars, give fine performances and manage to win the audience's hearts.
I'm giving this edition only 4 out of 5 stars because of the soundtrack to Manslaughter. The Alloy Orchestra tries hard, but they are more annoying than supporting here. Their sound (it's like a percussion section falling downstairs with a singing saw accompaniment) is well suited to stylized films like Metropolis and Strike, but in my opinion it is a detraction here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Pictures of the period Feb. 10 2003
By Eric Stott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Two examples of why Cecil DeMille was a success. The Cheat is a fine film full of subtle touches. The lighting and composition are breathtaking, and it's fascinating to see a youthful Sessue Hayakawa far far before his "Bridge on the River Kwai" role.
Manhunter is a different item, but no less fascinating. It's a totally commercial film and even shows an artistic and commercial decline from the earlier work. There is hardly a subtle moment in it, it's over the top all the way with the throttle wide open. Leatrice Joy and Lois Wilson, both unjustly forgotten stars, give fine performances and manage to win the audience's hearts.
I'm giving this edition only 4 out of 5 stars because of the soundtrack to Manslaughter. The Alloy Orchestra tries hard, but they are more annoying than supporting here. Their sound (it's like a percussion section falling downstairs with a singing saw accompaniment) is well suited to stylized films like Metropolis and Strike, but in my opinion it is a detraction here.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Decline of Cecil B. De Mille Feb. 1 2005
By JackShadow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
These two films are a very interesting pairing. In the years between the first film: The Cheat from 1915, and the second: Manslaughter from 1922, De Mille went from being a director of quality films to a director of commercial films.

Manslaughter is the film that people who have never seen a silent film are expecting to see: a melodrama without subtlety. This is the Cecil B. De Mille who - although derided by his peers and critics - became a great commercial director for the remainder of his career.

The Cheat is De Mille at his artistic peak. This is the film that is of interest to silent film fans and students, filmed with attention to detail: lighting, framing, acting, camera movement. A film of lasting quality.

Watch the two films and you will see the change in De MIlle. You will also see a De Mille you might not have known.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Simply Brilliant! June 11 2004
By Barbara Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was very impressed and completely enthralled by both features on this DVD and highly recommend it for anyone who values a quality silent drama. Both films are powerful dramas with outstanding acting, great suspense and in "Manslaughter" some deep and meaningful messages. Not everyone might get the same out of this movie, by the sounds of it, but I for one found it exceptionally good. You can take three sides: for spoilt brat Lydia, her desperate maid with a sick boy, or O'Bannon the District Attorney who is torn between love for justice and love for Lydia. There is a theme of soul-searching and finding yourself, getting your priorities right, and the uselessness of a debauched life of parties and booze. There are various things to take away from this great movie, so take your pick!
For me, the musical score by the Alloy Orchestra was superb and perfectly suited, esp. the fast, lively Jazz for the party scenes and fast cars. I also found it a very interesting and nice change from the usual standard piano or organ score that faithfully plods along to most silent films, so it might not sound like 'an orchestra falling down the stairs' to everyone!
The Cheat is a shorter and even more suspenseful film in some ways, and its picture quality is better than Manslaughter, but I feel they complement each other well on this DVD. Both of them highlight women living a dangerous lifestyle on the edge and its consequences - no different back then than today, no doubt, but despite the age of these movies, still as stark and powerful as if they were new. Definitely rivetting viewing!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Gotta Love DeMille Aug. 29 2009
By njpaddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
He's no Lang or Murnau, but he knew how to give an audience what they want. Preachy and melodramatic, with some tintalating Roman orgy scenes thrown in, MANSLAUGHTER isn't one of the best silent films, but it's still entertaining thanks to DeMille.

I have to agree with others on the score. It was hit or miss. Alloy Orchestra recycled some of their (musical saw) score to THE LOST WORLD for this one. While it was perfectly suited to THE LOST WORLD, it didn't work here. I kept waiting for the dinosaurs to appear. Alloy should have put away the musical saw for this one or there should have been a second score to choose from. It's still not the worse silent score from a major release. That honor goes to the score from PICCADILLY. I had to mute that one. A great film ruined by a bad score.

Also on this disc is THE CHEAT which should have had top billing. It's a classic. Great film and great Robert Israel score. The branding and ending scenes are a must see. As far as I can tell it's the same version shown on TCM, which is the 1918 re-release changing the intertitles to make the Sessue Hayakawa character Burmese rather than Japanese as in the original 1915 release. Political correctness was around even then.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Two Great Cecil B. DeMille Films.***** Jan. 13 2007
By Rebel_Against_The-Orthodoxy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This film is often mentioned in books and documentaries about films, I first heard about it from a documentary called love goddesses so I checked it out and wasn't let down.

Directed by the well respected Hollywood director Cecil B DeMille it tells the Story of a well to do party girl (played by Leatrice joy) who likes nothing but Partying and bombing about in her motorcar, until she accidentally causes the death of a copper (hence Manslaughter) and is put on trial, the rest you'll see for yourself.

The party scenes are interspersed by scenes of ancient Rome as to try and make comparisons between 1922 and Roman times and again in the courtroom scenes. It is obviously an attack on the speakeasies and drinking culture of the times (remember prohibition was well underway by this time and this unlike, Intolerance by G.W. Griffith, is pro prohibition.) DeMille is known for his biblical epics, this can't really be called an epic, but it has got an air of preachyness about it.

This film is defiantly worth seeing, no doubt about it, especially if you are interested in silent film, Cecil B DeMille, or the 1920's in general, which I presume you must be or you wouldn't be on this page.

The only thing I'd say let this down was the soundtrack which is very faint and odd and sometimes nonexistent.

THE CHEAT

The second film on this disc is worth the money alone (which as coincidence would have it was also mentioned in the doc Love goddesses) is The Cheat staring Fannie Ward as a society women who gets into debt and Sessue Hayakawa who plays a wealthy Burmese ivory trader who pays her debts but wants payment in other ways. Infamous for the branding scene which still is disturbing to watch today.

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