A crime caper and romance, The Cheaters was the third film by the McDonagh sisters, Paulette, Phyllis, and Isabelle.
Though it was originally made as a silent film, sound was added to three sections before the film was entered for the 1930 Commonwealth Film Prize. Unsuccessful in the competition, it premiered in Sydney cinemas in mid-1930.
Contemporary reviews criticised the film for having 'have slavishly copied American models. Instead of striving to give their work originality, the Americanisms, "big boy," "dame," and '"gangster," creep into the captions' and point out that, overall, the film
'suffers from a poor, badly-told story. Especially toward the end, absurdities spring up in battalions. The piece of dialogue that brings the picture to a close is an extreme example of bathos. It would surely be easy enough to write such dialogue in the modern spirit, instead of in the bombastically sentimental style of out-worn melodrama.'
'Australian Film. "The Cheaters"', Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 1930, p.8.
The film was originally made as a silent feature. Later, with a view to submitting the film to the 1930 Commonwealth Film Prize, sound was added to limited sections. The result was not entirely successful, according to contemporary newspaper reports:
'With some part of £9000 in prize-money as a goal, the girls spent thousands more than they would have done under ordinary circumstances. 'The Cheaters' was planned nearly a year ago. To meet the screen's suddenly changed conditions, the girls had to snap from silence into speech after most of the film had been shot, and most of their money spent. They had to use such recording equipment as was available; they had to 'mike-it-on-the-rush' in order to get their entry in before the closing date, which the Commonwealth refused to extend even though one or two months' delay would have enabled not only the M'Donaghs but all Australian producers to re-shoot their talking sequences and come closer to perfection.'
Gayne Dexter, 'Close Ups: Screen Gossip', Evening News, 2 June 1930, p.11.