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Worthy noir entry
mstomaso25 April 2007
Lee J. Cobb and John Dall give nice performances in this medium-slow paced noir thriller. It is also nice to see a 20 year-old and lovely Lisa Howard in a supporting role as Dall's new wife (famous for her news coverage of Kennedy and Castro in the early 1960s, and her subsequent suicide/overdose at the age of 35).

Contrary to popular opinion, I believe that Jane Wyatt did a fine job of playing the femme fatale. Her role is a bit different from the standard noir FF, and Wyatt is a bit strange as well. Wyatt's Lois Frazier is a rich, beautiful, seemingly naive and nervous woman suffering through an abominable marriage. Senior Police Lieutenant Cullen (Cobb) is having an affair with her.

Lois' husband has just left on a suspicious business trip, when Lois discovers he has purchased a gun. She believes that her husband plans on killing her. Eventually, he returns to their house and sneaks in through a door connected to his study. His wife shoots him twice at close range in the chest. Cullen, knowing that the husband had an airline ticket for that night (his planned alibi) dumps the body off at the airport. This is the basic premise. What follows is an edgy, tense and nicely photographed story, as Cullen's younger brother (Dall) - a smart fledgling detective - begins to unravel the plot.

The chase scene offers some really nice noir cinematography, and interesting sets. The soundtrack is also fairly good and the editing and directing are fine (though the edition I saw did have a few missing frames and other problems. The plot offers some interesting convolutions, but also mixes these with clichés.

All considered - a good film for noir fans.
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Seattle International Film Festival - David Jeffers for
rdjeffers12 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Sunday June 11, 1:30pm The Egyptian

'The Man Who Cheated Himself', follows the popular "bad cop noir" theme, starring Lee J. Cobb as Police Lieutenant Ed Cullin. When his lady friend Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt), shoots her husband while the Lieutenant is 'visiting', he confronts the choice of coming clean or covering up, "I didn't know what I was doing! You know the truth!" "The truth can get you twenty years!" Cullin's kid brother Andy (John Dall) is new to homicide division and does his best to solve the crime while the Lieutenant tries to cover his tracks. "How am I doing?" " OK kid. Do any better and I'd be out of a job." The film makes use of locations in and around San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Telegraph Hill and Fort Point. The complex plot twists involving the gun, its disposal, reappearance and an errant slug are particularly entertaining.
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True Fast Noir: "Yes, for one thing, a dame."
secondtake2 July 2009
The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

"Yes, for one thing, a dame."

A fast, curious, edgy crime film that depends on a fabulous, simple twist, which you learn right at the start and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The clash of two cops who are brothers begins innocently, and turns and builds in a very believable way, as the details of a murder are revealed. By the end, with a fabulous scene below the Golden Gate Bridge, it's a chase scene of pure suspense.

Lee J. Cobb (more usually a brilliant secondary character) takes the lead as a cop who does his job with steady weariness, and yet when faced with a woman he loves too much, puts everything in danger. He's just perfect in his role, right to the last scene when you see him look down the hall with the same feeling he has at the beginning of the film. His kid brother played by the slightly quirky John Dall ("Gun Crazy") is all virtue, almost to the point of sweet sadness. And the two main women play believable supporting roles (especially Cobb's love-interest, who is selfish and panicky to just the right degree).

This Jack M. Warner production was released by Fox but by the looks of it, it can't be quite a full budget feature movie, and because of that it is relentless and edgy, with no time for polish or emotional depth. Cameraman Russell Harlan ("Blackboard Jungle" and much later "To Kill a Mockingbird") does a brilliant job with great angles and framing. It isn't elegant, but it's visually sharp. Throw in a talented but little known director, Felix Feist, and some top shelf editing (by David Weisbart, one of absolute best) and you have just the mix you need for a small film much larger than life.

This is a film noir in the usual sense of style, but also in substance--a lead male who is alienated and casting about for meaning in life, and a lead female who leads him astray.

But in the end, what's it about? Crime? No. Love? Yes. The only subject that matters.

Cobb: "Do you think I'd throw that away on a sucker play like this?"

Dall: "Yes, for one thing, a dame."
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She's no good, but she's good for me!
Spikeopath6 January 2017
The Man Who Cheated Himself is directed by Felix E. Feist and written by Seton I. Miller and Phillip MacDonald. It stars Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall and Lisa Howard. Music is by Louis Forbes and cinematography by Russell Harlan.

Ed Cullen (Cobb) is a cop who is having an affair with wealthy Lois Frazer (Wyatt). When Lois, in a fit of panic shoots dead her husband, it cause Cullen no end of grief. You see, he was there as well, a witness to the crime...

Don't forget to change your will.

This is a film noir entry that contains most of the elements that form that brand of film making. Something of an under seen - and undervalued - piece, it manages to rise above a few minor itches to play out as potent. Cullen (Cobb excellent) gets spun into a vortex of self inflicted trouble on account of his eye for a dame, essayed by a cast against type Wyatt. Both are unfaithful, she's unreliable and he's quick to break his own laws with dishonesty and a corruptible soul.

Things spice up when Cullen's younger brother, Andy (Dall), himself a police officer, joins his brother in investigating the "now" mysterious murder case. So we have a family crisis brewing as the younger Cullen tries to crack the case, all while his elder brother tries to throw him off the scent of his own complicity. Wonderful, because like a few other great noirs (Scandal Sheet, The Big Clock et al) we have a protagonist effectively investigating himself. And with the brothers being polar opposites in life values, it keeps things simmering nicely in the intrigue pot.

The dialogue is often clip like and the police procedural aspects are finely played with believable strokes. Close calls come and go as the detective work lurches from almost solved and closed to "hang on a minute something smells fishy here" , while tricky collusion's smile like a Cheshire cat. The great Russell Harlan (Gun Crazy/Riot In Cell Block 11) continually keeps things moody with shadows and low lights, whilst simultaneously bringing to life the splendid San Francisco locations. None more so than for the finale filmed out at a derelict and decrepit Fort Point, a perfect setting for noir if ever there was one (Hitchcock and Boorman thought so too!).

Wyatt is just about convincing enough as a femme fatale, but you can't help but ponder what one of the true noir actresses could have done with the role. While you can't get away from the fact that really both Cullen and Frazer simply had to front up for a self defence case at the beginning and there would have been no hassle. But as weak as that aspect is, there wouldn't have been this noir tale to tell, all of which is crafted with careful and knowing hands by Feist (Tomorrow is Another Day). 7.5/10
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Jack Junior Makes His Mark!
JohnHowardReid18 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Two of my favorite writers, Seton I. Miller and Philip MacDonald, worked up this somewhat familiar plot (husband tries to murder rich wife and make it look like a burglary but he gets killed instead) into a moderately suspenseful police thriller, which maintains interest with a few clever plot twists and a thrilling bit of action across downtown San Francisco roof-tops, before coming to a really grand climax at the marvelously spooky Fort Point, followed by a winningly ironic conclusion (which surprisingly got past the censors back in 1950).

Cobb astutely underplays the lead role of the seasoned, crime-weary detective. Jane Wyatt's heroine-in-distress commendably follows Cobb's lead, leaving all the histrionics to the second-string team of John Dall and Lisa Howard. Despite Dall's efforts, however, it's Alan Wells as murderous punk who easily walks away with the movie's acting honors.

Felix Feist has handled all the action with his customary competence, and other credits are equally serviceable.

When this film was originally released much was made of the remarkable fact that it was produced by Jack Warner, Jr, the son of Warner Bros mogul, Jack L. Warner. Jack Jr made three movies: The Admiral Was a Lady (executive producer), then this one, and finally Brushfire (1962) which he also wrote and directed. Oddly, none of these movies were distributed by Warner Bros, though Jack, Jr, worked for some time as an executive in the Warner TV division.
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San Francisco location noir thriller about compromised cop
robert-temple-128 November 2007
Those who love San Francisco locations in films will get plenty of joy out of watching all these shots of how it was in 1949. It is eerily predictive of Hitchcock's later 'Vertigo', especially the Fort Point location at the foot of the Golden Gate, so near to where Kim Novak was later to stand (oh eternal moment of mystery and suspense, in the film that might have been called 'The Girl who Never Was'). It was certainly unusual for heavy-jowled and growly Lee J. Cobb to land a leading man role, but here he is, romantic even, grabbing the gal in his arms whenever the opportunity offers and slobbering his great big bear's mouth all over her pretty, pert lips like the beast that is in all of us. And she loves it, spoilt rich brat that she is. (That's part of the plot.) And so, passion triumphs, the honest cop is compromised, covers up for the hysterical beauty and all that ensues can be guessed. The DVD issue has been made from a print with lots of scratches, hiss, and missing frames, so the negative must have disappeared. But at least this 'nice little noir' remains in some form, and is eminently watchable. There are some nice lines: 'The truth can get you twenty years.' But it is a mild thriller, and its locations are its chief recommendation.
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Eddie Muller's commentary on TCM's Noir Alley raises my appraisal to an 8/10
AlsExGal25 June 2018
Eddie M. is great at pointing out a film's strengths and weaknesses, and he did a great job on this recently restored film. This film was made on a shoestring budget and produced by Jack M. Warner, who was constantly feuding with daddy, THE Jack Warner,, and wanted to make films on his own. If the film had a bigger budget, the womanizing workaholic senior detective would have been played by Robert Mitchum, not Lee J. Cobb. The wealthy femme fatale would have been Ida Lupino instead of Jane Wyatt???. John Dall is a little off the tracks in this one, coming across like a young Jimmy Stewart rather than the straight arrow one woman younger brother of Cobb's character, anxious to learn the trade of detective from big brother, but with a deep sense of justice and honesty that overrides even kinship.

The set-up is this. The opening scene shows a man burning any sign that he just bought a gun in a plush living room. He hides the gun. However, the bill of sale falls to the floor. Lois, the wife, played by Jane Wyatt, comes into the living area yelling at and accusing the husband, distractingly dressed to the nines and looking a bit too much like a woman dressed in her daughter's prom dress. The husband says he has had it and is flying to Seattle and leaves. But wealthy Lois finds the bill of sale, she finds the gun, and she finds that her husband has been looking over the changes she has been planning to make to her will, and those plans did not include hubby.

Frantically believing that her husband plans to return and kill her (I don't blame her) she calls her boyfriend, who just happens to be Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Cobb), and tells him to get there right away. He does. While there the husband does return, and enters the house by jimmying a lock, there are angry statements back and forth between husband and wife, and Lois shoots her husband dead. Lois appeals to her policeman boyfriend to help her. He does. The husband left his car at the airport - probably as an alibi for his wife's murder. Ed ironically uses that alibi and returns the dead body of the murdered would be murderer to the airport, outside, so it will look like a robbery gone wrong.

But things go wrong for Ed. He is seen at the airport by an older couple - but it is night. He throws the gun off the Golden Gate Bridge, but again is seen by a policeman who knows him. And worse, a few days later the gun Ed threw in the bay shows up in another killing. How does this all turn out? Watch and find out.

There are some spectacular shots of 1950 San Francisco in this one, and the cinematography is excellent. Stay for the story, and just endure the complete lack of chemistry between Cobb and Wyatt.

Probably the most interesting and noirish story in the cast is that of Lisa Howard, who plays John Dall's wife. She left movies in the late 50s and reinvented herself as a journalist, scoring interviews with Fidel Castro, the Shah of Iran and Nikita Khrushchev. Her behavior and politics got extreme though, and she was fired from NBC news in 1964. Suing her employer made her a pariah in her industry, and on July 4, 1965 she killed herself with a bottle of barbiturates in a parking lot. Eddie Muller said her story would make a great film - "The Woman Who Cheated Herself".
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Much better than expected!
Anonymous_Maxine26 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As it is described in the collection in which it now appears, The Man Who Cheated Himself is definitely a classic piece of textbook film noir. I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Lee Cobb until I saw him in 12 Angry Men a couple months ago. He was an astonishingly busy actor between the 1930s and 1970s, appearing in more than 100 films and television shows. The video quality of the copy that I saw was not the best, the picture was unclear and scratched and the sound was like an old vinyl record, but I watched the movie expecting to see a stunningly bad old movie, given that I bought it in a collection of something like 15 movies, most of which seem to have been long since forgotten.

I will admit that I didn't feel a lot of chemistry between Cobb's police chief Cullen and Lois Frazer, Jane Wyatt's femme fatale, but I was willing to accept it as a catalyst to propel the plot and their fates further down the tubes. There is a definite effort to generate Hitchcockian suspense during the middle portion of the film as their cover story grows thinner and thinner. I have read some reviewers that disagree, but I think that this part of the film is done particularly well, given that it is so realistic. The process is complicated by the fact that the other lead investigator on the murder is Cullen's younger brother, who grows continually closer and closer to the truth, which he desperately doesn't want to be true, while Cobb's Cullen has more and more often to talk down to him as though he's a rookie, telling him he is naïve and inexperienced when, in fact, he is doing everything right.

(spoilers) The chase sequence at Fort Point at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge is the best part of the film, although for some reason it seems like it is dragged out a bit, as if they wanted to get as much out of their access to the site as possible, yet the scene was barely five minutes long. I have visited Fort Point many times when I was a kid and lived in the Bay Area, and I seem to remember a rather eccentric portrayal of it in Bicentennial Man, but this is clearly a much more interesting and successful use of it in a film, at least until Kim Novak threw herself into the Bay here in 1958.

The very end of The Man Who Cheated Himself is a little confusing to me. The plot is clear and the ending is perfect, although I can't understand the half smile on Cullen's (Cobb's) face as he sees Lois walk by with her new lawyer boyfriend, whom she is entrusting to ensure her freedom almost as a trade for her love, as Cullen is led away to his miserable fate. Maybe he simply can't believe what has happened. The movie has a definite B-movie feel (not the least reason for which is Wyatt's uninspired performance) but it is well written and otherwise well made.
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The Other Great "Fort Point" Movie -desperately needs restoring
danielj_old9991 September 2005
This is one of the better second tier film noir .... within its limits, it seems to me rock solid: performances,(save one), script, photography, and is surely commensurate with excellent Fleischer B's of the same period such as "Armored Car Robbery"...however perhaps not quite in the same league as the latter's "Narrow Margin"...there are these kinds of films in which, under obvious budgetary circumstances, it is hard to imagine what could be done better, with the exception of Jane Wyatt, who does indeed give a horrible performance...but hey, that's why it's a B...and one often wonders, given more money in the budget, whether the whole thing would have been somehow ruined...this last seems to be to be the best way of defining the undefinable "B" that I have come across. John Dall lends that undefinable air of perversity, of which he was the acknowledged master, and, to the viewer's delight, seems wonderfully and profoundly miscast as a policeman. Dall makes this worth seeing.
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Opposite Intentions
claudio_carvalho20 August 2019
Andy Cullen (John Dall), the rookie detective and brother of the homicide Lt. Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb), is assigned to work with him. Andy will marry his beloved Janet (Lisa Howard) on the next days and Ed will be his best man. Ed is a wolf and is having a secret love affair with the wealthy Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt), who is divorcing her husband Howard Frazer (Harlan Warde). Lois finds that Howard has bought a gun and suspects he intends to kill her; so she calls Ed to help her. When they are together, Howard arrives and Lois accidentally kills her husband. Ed decides to help her and forges a crime scene near the airport. Soon he is assigned to investigate the case with Andy but his young brother wants to show that he is a good detective.

"The Man Who Cheated Himself" is a film noir with a story of brothers with opposite intentions. The veteran detective wants to cover the felony he committed to protect his lover while his brother wants to prove that he is a good detective. The conflict between brothers is interesting and the open conclusion is a plus. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Por uma Mulher Má" ("For a Wicked Woman")
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Medium noir
madmonkmcghee1 March 2011
Fairly good noir movie is mainly carried on Lee J. Cobb's ample shoulders. His physique and gruff attitude are tailor-made for the genre. Unfortunately Jane Wyatt doesn't quite cut it as the requisite femme fatale for which he sacrifices his career. Since this is a dramatically vital plot point it weakens the entire movie. Mary Astor would have played this to perfection. It also contains too many sluggish scenes that either slow down the pace or lead nowhere. And the end is anticlimactic to say the least. On the plus side the movie has the right noir feel, although it lacks the necessary suspense and mental anguish to be truly gripping. Also both Cobb and Dall are fine as the two cop brothers. Noir fans should certainly check this one out, flawed as it is.
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I Felt His Pain
thebluesterman18 February 2013
Some viewers are born fans, some achieve fandom and others have fandom thrust upon them. Right, Malvolio? My continually expanding passion, if you can call this insatiable thirst for black and white/old/scratchy films like this one a passion, certainly feels like it has been thrust upon me. I didn't start off loving this stuff because it was just the sort of film my mom and dad would never have let me see as a kid in the 50's. I forget the 60's and was raising kids on the Berenstain Bears and Curious George in the 70's and 80's. Now, here we are in the reclining years and there is the wonder of NOIR exploding on my screen like that meteor busting in on the Russian skies a few days ago. The Man Who Cheated Himself was painlessly easy to watch in spite of the places where the source material suffered from the hiccups, staggers and jags. I liked it very much. Some of the scenes evoked recollections of the camera work in The Third Man, interestingly enough itself made just one year earlier. If you are a noir fan and aren't picky, you'll love this. If you are a critic or anal retentive about only watching films in better condition than before they originally went into the can, may only like it. One objective subjective observation...the writers did a fine job of getting me to the place of feeling younger Cullen's pain. Ouch! :-)
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Cherchez la femme, especially her actual motives, here ending up into a big question mark.
clanciai11 January 2018
The question that must arise from the beginning,m and which turns this movie doubtful from the start, is how such an experienced and qualified detective as Lee J. Cobb could allow himself to be lead by such a woman to his own bad end? He must realize from the beginning that it must be impossible at length to get away with such a cover up. All the same, it's an interesting intrigue, the plot is formidable as Lee must perform a complicated double play which is bound to constantly get more difficult, but what saves the film is the tremendous finale. Hitchcock must have been inspired by this set-up at Fort Point under the great bridge with its fantastic opportunities for a thriller finale. There are many details adding to an excellent thriller, like her scarf blowing off in the end, the Italian family incident, the great introductory scene with its opening the door to any possible crime that only can be guessed at - and which leads to crime that no one wanted to commit.

Lee J. Cobb's foolery is questionable, but the film is great in spite of its foibles and should be worth restoring to its original quality indeed.
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John Dall is a hoot
daleholmgren7 July 2018
While many fault Jane Wyatt's acting in this, I'm surprised they are accepting of John Dall's bad acting. I've never seen so many exaggerated sideways glances and incessant mugging, telegraphing his feelings like he was playing to a theatre audience. He delivers his lines like a bad Sam Spade wannabe. Yikes.
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Crooked cop investigates self in Felix Feist film noir
bmacv30 May 2001
Despite Jane Wyatt, who offers possibly the worst performance of a femme fatale in the whole noir cycle, The Man Who Cheated Himself is a more-than-passable, gritty little thriller. Veteran cop Lee J. Cobb is showing the ropes to little brother John Dall ("Gun Crazy," "Rope"). Dall is on the verge of blissful matrimony but Cobb still likes to play the field, the field being filthy-rich society matron Wyatt. When she kills her ne'er-do-well hubby (by accident? It's never clear), Cobb helps her cover up the crime. Trouble is, he taught his brother the tricks of the trade rather too well... This movie is rather better than you might expect it to be, thanks to Cobb's moaning, double-bass voice and some not-terribly-stale plot developments.
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Recently Restored, Looks and Sounds Great
dearsteve-6041228 June 2018
This film was recently restored from a 35mm archival print, and was shown on Turner Classic's Noir Alley. It's in great shape, and if you're interested in seeing it, you should make every effort to see that version.
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"The Truth Would Get You 20"
Rainey-Dawn14 May 2016
This is a good crime noir, it's surprisingly better than I was guessing it would be. The film grabbed my attention from the start until it ended, so I know I found enjoyment watching it.

Two brothers: The older, Ed, likes his police work as a homicide detective and staying single while going after beautiful women - the fast, single type of life. The younger, Andy, is just starting out as a homicide detective and works with his brother, he is the type that likes a wife and good home - the simple family life.

The older brother, Ed, is secretly seeing another one of his beautiful women and this one is rich and married - soon to divorce. One night the husband comes back home and the wife kills him while her boyfriend detective Ed was there and witnessed what really happened. Ed tells her "The truth would get you 20" and helps to cover up what happened. Guess who is assigned to the case: Ed and his younger brother Andy.

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Lee J Cobb as incurable romantic.
st-shot26 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Playing the lead is unfamiliar territory for Lee J Cobb but a welcome change of pace in a role usually reserved for a handsomer marquee player. Love is in the air for the usually abrasive haranguer but in this case it leads to his undoing.

Wealthy Lois Frazier (Jane Wyatt) is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce with her husband Howard. When she finds a receipt for a 38 she immediately suspects her hubby might want her dead as well. Fortunately for her she's involved with police lieutenant Cullen (Lee J Cobb) who can smooth things over. When the husband returns she drills him and Cullen clumsily tries to cover the murder up. His green detective brother (John Dall) psyched in his first week on the job begins to piece things together while Cullen does his best to distract him from the trail. But he may have taught his brother too well.

Cobb acquits himself well in a part that calls for softness and not the generic intolerance and rage he specializes in. He has the rumpled veteran dick down pat but in his clinches with Frazier a realistic every-man blinded by beauty. As the supercilious Frazier, Wyman overreaches but for those of us brought up in the 50s it can be quite jarring to watch Father Know's Best wife making out with Johnny Friendly.

A B-picture Double Indemnity it lacks the classic's dialogue but director Felix Feist does have top shelf cinematographer Roger Harlan ( Gun Crazy) along for the ride who delivers at least two scenes ( an interrogation and an abandoned factory scene near the Golden Gate) that any noir or crime drama would be proud to inject into their mise en scene.
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Flawed story, but still decent noir
peefyn17 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Women referred to as "dames", people getting trapped in convoluted plots, men with weaknesses, detectives in trench coats and smoking all around - this movie has most charms you'd expect from a noir movie.

The plot was generally enjoyable, with some fun twists along the way. The scene where the murder takes place (no spoilers) was really good, as it built up tension, which got released through the character's actions. My main objection to the story, is Cobb's reaction to this afterwords (which sets it all off) does not really make much sense. Cobb's character is at times quite smart, but at other times inept at what he is doing. There's a lack of consistency to him that makes the entire story a bit unbelievable.

Having only seen Cobb in 12 Angry Men, it's interesting to see his performance here. He is still good, but you expect him to burst into rage at any time (which he doesn't).
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A n Unusual Cop Drama
dougdoepke24 September 2015
Unusual police drama that doesn't generate much tension until the climactic scene in the derelict building. There, echoing footfalls and eerie doorways surround the intruders. Too bad the rest of the film doesn't approach this dramatic level. Seems cop Ed Cullen (Cobb) impulsively covers up his sweetie's (Wyatt) sudden killing of her husband (Warde). Not a very cop-like thing to do. Worse, Ed's kid brother, new to the force, picks up his trail, which puts Ed in a touchy position.

When I think romance, the hefty Cobb doesn't come to mind. Still, his pairing here with Father Knows Best's Jane Wyatt works out forming the plot's basis. Cobb's a powerhouse actor and a good choice for the glum older cop. Perhaps the actor was anticipating Hollywood's impending blacklist that was about to fall on him too. Dall manages as the neophyte detective, though his typical reaction amounts to an amused smirk. He would later shine in Hitchcock's production of "Rope" and the noir classic "Gun Crazy".

However, an unsung Alan Wells (Nito) turns in an aptly wracking performance as a low-class stickup man. Too bad his few moments amount to the movie's one energetic high point. Also, mustn't forget that sublime very last scene that is certainly no cliché. Note too Lisa Howard as Dall's cute little brunette wife, Janet. Might not guess it here but she has historical standing as one of early TV's first female newscasters. As a TV reporter she also played an important intermediary role between Castro, Kennedy, and Kruschev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's hard to suspect such eventual heavy lifting from her rather mundane role in this movie.

Old car buffs, however, should find the movie's array fascinating-- an "inverted bath tub" Nash, an "is it coming or going" Studebaker, and a rather futuristic mystery car that Andy drives to the showdown. For geezers like me, these old films are reminders of styles and fashions of times past. I wish the production had included more of these atmospheric street scenes.

Anyway, the results are a little too flat and erratically written (three good writers don't necessarily add up to a good screenplay) to get beyond the mediocre.
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Ignore Miss Wyatt's histrionics and enjoy.
MartinHafer16 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film noir flick begins with a simply horrible acting performance by Jane Wyatt--perhaps some of this might be the result of how the part was written. While she could do fine work, this was NOT her shining moment. In a wildly histrionic scene, she shoots her husband and her cop lover (Lee J. Cobb) is a witness to the killing. She claims it was in self-defense but the scene was just handled poorly. Could the rest of the film make up for this goofy scene? And, will her lover get away with making it look like he was killed elsewhere by someone else? And, what happens after Cobb throws the gun in the harbor AND someone is soon killed with this very gun? Well, fortunately it DID get better. While it's not among the best film of the genre, it was interesting and reasonably well made. Aside from Miss Wyatt's occasionally histrionic acting, the story was good and there is little to dislike. And, although I disliked Wyatt in the beginning, the way the film ended was great--and her character really worked well in this dandy finale in the courthouse. Well worth seeing.
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Not a bad mystery movie
deschreiber22 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I agree that Jane Wyatt is horribly miscast here, particularly at the end, where she is revealed as a cold-hearted vixen playing the men for her advantage. Ole Jane just can't carry a part like that. She's made to play the good wifey, as she did so well on "Father Knows Best." Her natural aura of sweetness actually spoiled some of the plot effects. A tougher woman might have led us to believe that she really did intend to kill her husband, that it was not an accident, and might have hinted that she had some ulterior motive in forming a liaison with a homicide policeman. As it was, when she asked the cop if he wanted to marry her, it didn't make sense. Why would a rich lady like her want to become the wife of a policeman? And, by the way, how did they ever get involved in the first place? That might be more a hole in the writing than in her acting - it's hard to imagine any reason for such a rich, elegant society lady hitching up with a run-of-the-mill cop, especially while she's still married to another man - but a more slinky actress (Veronica Lake leaps to mind) could have bridged the gap in the plot with a few well chosen eyebrows raised, fleeting smiles, sidelong glances, and suchlike.

The interplay between the cop trying to hide the crime and his brother trying to uncover it is the best part of the movie. I especially liked the moment when the brother is staking out the woman's house and sees his brother come out the front door. It struck me that a little more effort should have gone into developing and prolonging the awkwardness of that moment.

The scenes in the derelict building are visually interesting, and excellent use is made of the sound of the wind and of footsteps echoing down the empty corridors. A first-rate ending.

By the way, what's with all those Nash Ramblers (or some kind of car made by American Motor - I even saw a Studebaker) everyone is driving? Were they as funny-looking to people in 1950 as they are to us today?
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"Dream on your own time. This is a hot lead."
classicsoncall18 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If the film didn't rely on the absolute wildest of coincidences it could have been a real thriller (as Boris Karloff would say). When ballistics showed that the gun used to kill a liquor store clerk was an exact match of the one thrown into San Francisco Bay by Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb), I just about jumped out of my seat. So, was it the same gun, or an exact match? After countless detective shows to instruct us that no two bullet riflings are exactly alike (much like snowflakes), having the Fraser murder weapon magically reappear was a stretch too unbelievable to accept.

Other than that though, this was a pretty intriguing little story. I don't know that I'd hang the noir hat on it like so many others on this board have though. Jane Wyatt wasn't the conflicted femme fatale so much as an opportunistic (rhymes with witch), who's over the top histrionics border on the embarrassingly silly, beginning with her first phone call to Ed. I always thought she was a pretty good actress, so this had to be one of those exceptions in a long career that's best swept under the rug.

John Dall delivers a fairly competent performance learning the ropes as a homicide detective and coming to the unsavory conclusion that older brother Ed is on the wrong side of the law for his very first case. The whole thing might have turned out different if he'd gone on his honeymoon, but instead, Ed's words of encouragement to Andy wound up sealing his own eventual fate - "If you do any better, I'll be out of a job."
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Pretty Good "B" Noir
psych-shawn9 February 2015
For a "B" film, "The Man Who Cheated Himself" is very well done. The script is pretty good, Lee J. Cobb is terrific as a world-weary police lieutenant who gets tangled in a web of lies.

John Dall plays his "newly-promoted, determined-to-make-good" younger brother and partner competently.

The primary flaw with the film is Jane Wyatt who overacts the part of the femme fatale. Someone like Gloria Grahame or Lizabeth Scott would have been perfect.

The ending was a bit abrupt, but gave a fitting film noir conclusion to the proceedings. All in all, well-worth watching despite these small flaws.
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