Release dateJuly 26, 1929 (1929-07-26) (United States) Based onThe Last of Mrs. Cheyney
by Frederick Lonsdale WriterFrederick Lonsdale (from the play by), Hanns Kraly (continuity), Claudine West (continuity) CastNorma Shearer (Fay Cheyney), Basil Rathbone (Lord Arthur Dilling), George Barraud (Charles), Herbert Bunston (Lord Elton), Hedda Hopper (Lady Maria), Moon Carroll (Joan) ScreenplayHanns Kraly, Claudine West Similar moviesAnt-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inception, Blackhat, Let's Be Cops
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney is a 1929 American Pre-Code comedy-drama film directed by Sidney Franklin. The screenplay by Hanns Kräly is based on the 1925 play of the same name by Frederick Lonsdale which ran on Broadway for 385 performances. The film was remade twice, with the same title in 1937 and as The Law and the Lady in 1951.
Resourceful and engaging Fay Cheyney, posing as a wealthy Australian widow at a Monte Carlo hotel, befriends Mrs. Webley with the intention of stealing her pearl necklace, a plot devised by Charles, her butler and partner-in-crime. Complicating the situation are the romantic feelings she develops for Lord Arthur Dilling, Mrs. Webley's nephew. While taking the necklace during a party in the Webley home, Fay is caught by Arthur, who threatens to expose her unless she submits to him. Rather than compromise her principles, she confesses to her hostess, who plans to contact the police until Lord Elton, another guest, recalls Fay has a love letter he wrote her that could prove to be embarrassing to everyone present. They offer her money in exchange for the letter and her freedom, but when she destroys the letter and refuses their payment, they welcome her back into their social circle.
Norma Shearer as Fay Cheyney
Basil Rathbone as Lord Arthur Dilling
George Barraud as Charles
Herbert Bunston as Lord Elton
Hedda Hopper as Lady Maria
Maude Turner Gordon as Mrs. Webley
Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times said, "It is a well-arranged picture, but nevertheless one in which it is not difficult to detect where Mr. Lonsdale left off and where the scenario writers tried their hand at dialogue . . . There are a number of interesting dramatic passages that are pictured with considerable cunning. The dialogue goes on for some time, and Sidney Franklin, the director, keeps his players busy, which is a relief after seeing talking screen images standing in the same spot until they have had their say."
Edwin Schallert of the Los Angeles Times observed, "In the portrayals, Miss Shearer averaged well. She evidences a more precise expressiveness facially than she does vocally, and some of her very best scenes are in the silent ones. Nevertheless, she measures very well to the majority of the role’s requirements, the crispness of her voice being well suited to the repartee portions. She is exceedingly attractive in the role."
Awards and honors
Screenwriter Hanns Kräly competed with himself for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and won instead for The Patriot.