Classic Movie Review: The Story of a Cheat (1936)


Title: Le Roman d’un tricheur
Release Date: 19 September 1936
Director: Sacha Guitry
Production Company: Films Sonores Tobis; Cinéas
Summary/Review:

Sacha Guitry directed, wrote (from an adaptation of his own novel) and starred in The Story of a Cheat, alternately Confessions of a Cheat. Guitry plays a man in his mid-50s writing his memoir and narrating the extended flashbacks of his life, including all the dialogue of his younger selves ( Serge Grave and Pierre Assy) have with other people. The Cheat’s story begins when he is orphaned as a 12-year-old and then runs away from his guardians after they rob him of his inheritance.  The cheat works as a doorman and elevator operator at hotels, serves in the military, becomes a croupier in Monaco, and is charmed by beautiful women into participating in various cons and crimes.  Eventually he becomes a professional card cheat, learning from his life experience that he makes money when he cheats and loses money when he’s honest.

The film is whimsical but I never find it laugh out loud funny.  I wonder if this film inspired Jean-Pierre Jeunet because the stenatorian narration and quirky life story are reminiscent of movies like Amélie.  Mostly though, I just started to feel that Guitry should shut up and let people act, because that non-stop narration got grating.  I found The Story of a Cheat a mildly-entertaining picaresque but there’s nothing really great about it.

Rating: ***

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