The NFSA has completed a digital restoration of the silent version of The Cheaters (1929), one of the earliest Australian films made by a team of female filmmakers.
The McDonagh sisters - Paulette (director), Phyllis (art director) and actress Isabel (billed as Marie Lorraine) - experienced great success with their first two films, Those Who Love (1926) and The Far Paradise (1928).
In The Cheaters, Paula Marsh (played by 'Marie Lorraine') decides to end her career as a thief after falling in love with Lee Travers (Josef Bambach), son of a wealthy businessman.
The film was completed as a silent movie in 1929, after American 'talking pictures' were already flooding the market. The McDonagh sisters tried to broaden the film's appeal by converting it to a part-talkie and later to a full-talkie film in 1931, but it was too late.
Today it is the original silent film that survives as the most complete version of The Cheaters. The restoration is based on the only 35mm (nitrate) film print known to exist.
The digital clean-up achieved significant improvements in re-stabilising, de-flickering and grading the image, and extra time was needed to address some remaining distracting scratches and spots and return the image to a condition as close as possible to the original without changing it.