Synopsis by Mark Deming
This early talkie was based on Frederick Lonsdale's successful Broadway play. Fay Cheyney (Norma Shearer) is a cunning jewel thief who impersonates a wealthy widow as she travels to Monte Carlo, planning on stealing a fortune in pearls from one Mrs. Webley (Maude Turner Gordon); Fay's henchmen also travel with her, posing as her servants as they help her plan the heist. However, Fay has a change of plans when she meets Lord Arthur Dilling (Basil Rathbone), who is wealthy, handsome, titled, and Mrs. Webley's nephew. Fay and Arthur soon become infatuated with each other, and Fay puts her plans on hold as she begins to travel in his privileged social circle; however, when she's invited to a private soiree at Mrs. Webley's mansion, the temptation is too great, and she attempts to steal the pearls. However, she's caught in the act by Arthur, who offers to make a deal -- if Fay will sleep with him, he won't tell Mrs. Webley that she's a fraud. Fay is taken aback by this affront to her honor, and instead confesses to Mrs. Webley and her assembled guests that she is not who she has purported to be. Shocked, the assembled socialites decide to turn her in to the police, until Lord Elton (Herbert Bunston) admits that he wrote Fay an indiscreet letter that had incriminating information about many of their friends. With Fay in a position to blackmail her blue-blooded acquaintances, they attempt to buy her silence, but Fay proves that despite her criminal history, she has her principles. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney was remade in 1937 (with Joan Crawford in the lead), and again in 1951 as The Law and the Lady, starring Greer Garson. A German version also appeared in 1961.
blackmail, chase, con/scam, expensive, extramarital-affair, fortune-hunter, gathering, guest, high-society, home, housekeeper, jury, justice, lady, lawyer, letter, loot, lord, mansion, marriage, meeting, nephew, opal, plans, police, pursuit, robbery, romance, servant, society, traveling, visit, wedding, widow/widower