The Cheaters (1945)

87 mins | Comedy-drama | 15 July 1945

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Amazing Mr. M. , The Magnificent Mr. M. , Mr. M. and the Pidgeons and The Magnificent Rogue . A Dec 1941 HR news item reported that Republic had purchased Frances Hyland and Albert Ray's original story as a vehicle for actress Binnie Barnes, and in Aug 1942, HR noted that Joseph Santley was set to direct the film, and Robert North was to produce. Dec 1944 HR news items announced that Brad Taylor and James Lydon would have roles in the picture, but they do not appear in the released film. Although HR production charts include Rex Lease in the cast, his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. In 1949, the picture was re-edited and re-released as The Castaway ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Amazing Mr. M. , The Magnificent Mr. M. , Mr. M. and the Pidgeons and The Magnificent Rogue . A Dec 1941 HR news item reported that Republic had purchased Frances Hyland and Albert Ray's original story as a vehicle for actress Binnie Barnes, and in Aug 1942, HR noted that Joseph Santley was set to direct the film, and Robert North was to produce. Dec 1944 HR news items announced that Brad Taylor and James Lydon would have roles in the picture, but they do not appear in the released film. Although HR production charts include Rex Lease in the cast, his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. In 1949, the picture was re-edited and re-released as The Castaway . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Jul 1945.
---
Daily Variety
2 Jul 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Jul 45
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 45
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1945.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 45
p. 8.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Jul 1945.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 May 45
p. 2454.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Jul 45
p. 2533.
New York Times
21 Jul 45
p. 7.
Variety
4 Jul 45
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec, eff and mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Matte paintings
Transparency projection shots
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Silent Night, Holy Night," music by Franz Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, English lyrics anonymous.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Mr. M. and the Pidgeons
The Amazing Mr. M.
The Magnificent Mr. M.
The Magnificent Rogue
Release Date:
15 July 1945
Production Date:
1 February--mid March 1945
Copyright Claimant:
Republic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 June 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13333
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in feet):
7,806
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10817
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

The week before Christmas, New York business tycoon James C. Pidgeon is facing bankruptcy due to the extravagant spending of his wife Clara. At his office, J. C. is pestered by his jovial, good-for-nothing brother-in-law, Willie Crawford, but is cheered by a telegram from his son Reggie, who informs him that J. C.'s rich uncle is on his deathbed. Believing that his financial problems will soon be solved, J. C. accompanies Willie home, where Clara is supervising preparations for Christmas. Also at home is Therese, the Pidgeon's snobbish elder daughter, who is determined to make her unconventional family presentable for her socially prominent fiancé, Stephen Bates. Therese insists that the family take in a "charity case" for the holidays in order to impress Stephen. Reluctantly giving into Therese's whims, her parents bring home a charity case advertised in the newspaper as "Mr. M." The mystery man turns out to be Anthony Marchaund, a once-renowned actor who became a drunkard and handyman after being injured in an auto accident ten years earlier. Admonished by a newspaper official to be grateful, Marchaund charms the family with his polite, refined manners, although one afternoon he drinks too much and is hidden by the butler, MacFarland, until he recovers. While Marchaund is resting unseen on the couch, the family discovers that their eccentric uncle has died and left his five-million-dollar fortune to an actress whose performance as "Little Eva" in Uncle Tom's Cabin impressed him thirty years previously. Knowing only that the actress' last name is Watson and that she may live in New York, the uncle ordered that if she was not found, the inheritance ... +


The week before Christmas, New York business tycoon James C. Pidgeon is facing bankruptcy due to the extravagant spending of his wife Clara. At his office, J. C. is pestered by his jovial, good-for-nothing brother-in-law, Willie Crawford, but is cheered by a telegram from his son Reggie, who informs him that J. C.'s rich uncle is on his deathbed. Believing that his financial problems will soon be solved, J. C. accompanies Willie home, where Clara is supervising preparations for Christmas. Also at home is Therese, the Pidgeon's snobbish elder daughter, who is determined to make her unconventional family presentable for her socially prominent fiancé, Stephen Bates. Therese insists that the family take in a "charity case" for the holidays in order to impress Stephen. Reluctantly giving into Therese's whims, her parents bring home a charity case advertised in the newspaper as "Mr. M." The mystery man turns out to be Anthony Marchaund, a once-renowned actor who became a drunkard and handyman after being injured in an auto accident ten years earlier. Admonished by a newspaper official to be grateful, Marchaund charms the family with his polite, refined manners, although one afternoon he drinks too much and is hidden by the butler, MacFarland, until he recovers. While Marchaund is resting unseen on the couch, the family discovers that their eccentric uncle has died and left his five-million-dollar fortune to an actress whose performance as "Little Eva" in Uncle Tom's Cabin impressed him thirty years previously. Knowing only that the actress' last name is Watson and that she may live in New York, the uncle ordered that if she was not found, the inheritance would revert to J. C. Desperate for the money, J. C. persuades the estate's lawyer to conduct only a week-long search for the actress. Marchaund then makes his presence known and suggests contacting the Actors Equity Assocation for help. Fearing that Marchaund will try to blackmail them, the family promises to "take care" of him if he helps them, and he easily locates the actress, Florie Watson. Willie and Marchaund visit Florie, who is so broke that she accepts Willie's contrived story that she is their long-lost cousin with whom they wish to spend Christmas. Therese is furious that the family has complicated her Christmas plans with Stephen, but Angela, the younger daughter, is charmed by Florie's open, good-hearted nature. J. C. has no intention of telling Florie about her inheritance, and in order to keep her away from the increasing amount of publicity about the unusual will, the Pidgeons take her to one of J. C.'s rental properties in the country. Stating that it belonged to a deceased aunt, the Pidgeons take Stephen, Florie and Marchaund to the cabin, although the unhospitable conditions prompt the servants to quit. Florie takes charge of the cooking and housekeeping, and soon even Clara and Angela are enjoying their chores. Florie, who has fallen in love with Marchaund, urges him to quit drinking and return to the stage, but Marchaund demurs, insisting that he is a has-been. Two detectives, seeking to notify Florie about her inheritance, trace her to the cabin, but the Pidgeons and Marchaund dissuade them from searching the property. Later, as the family glumly sits around the fireplace on Christmas Eve, Marchaund's uneasy conscience prompts him to try to help Florie. Hoping to inspire the family to tell the truth, the drunken actor terrifies them with a stirring rendition of A Christmas Carol , then collapses. The Pidgeons, who have grown fond of Florie, are ashamed of their greed, and tell her about her inheritance. Florie is stunned, but forgives her friends for their deception, and the reformed Pidgeons enjoy the rest of the evening. The next morning, Florie tries to thank Marchaund, but instead finds a note in which he confesses his feelings for her, but contends that he must leave. Florie goes to the nearest bar and there finds Marchaund. She tells him that she is splitting the inheritance with the Pidgeons, and the happy couple laugh as they realize that they do not have enough cash to pay for their drinks. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.