A major landmark of Australian cinema, The Cheaters is not just one of our earliest feature films – it’s one of the first by women filmmakers. This newly restored version offers viewers a rare big-screen treat of a pioneering silent-era classic.

Paulette, Phyllis and Isabel McDonagh made history in 1926 as the first Australian women to run their own film production company. It was an all-in affair, with Paulette writing and directing their films, Phyllis producing and doing publicity, and Isobel acting.

Released in 1929, The Cheaters was their third film. Inspired by popular US and German crime capers of the day, the story follows thief Paula Marsh (Isabel McDonagh, under her alias of Marie Lorraine), who decides to go legit when she falls in love with the son of a wealthy businessman; but the businessman is one of Marsh’s victims, and her crime boss father wants her to pull one more heist. Now painstakingly restored by the National Film and Sound Archive from the only 35mm nitrate print known to still exist, the result is a stunningly vivid and colourful slice of the Australia cinema story.

"The Cheaters is a visually beautiful piece of work, the McDonaghs sharing a wonderful aesthetic." – The Canberra Times

Presented by the National Film and Sound Archive's digital restoration program: NFSA restores – reviving our cinema icons.

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