December 31, 2018  (Web Review)

The Man Who Cheated Himself

Flicker Alley, 82 min., not rated, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $39.95

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Lee J. Cobb stars as Lt. Ed Cullen, a veteran homicide detective having a secret affair with socialite Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt)—while she is in the midst of a divorce—in this 1950 film noir shot on location in San Francisco. When she shoots her husband (in self-defense), Ed covers it up to protect her, and his rookie partner—newly promoted younger brother Andy (John Dall)—uncovers contradictions when they are assigned the case. It’s a classic “good cop gone bad” set-up, but Ed isn’t greedy or corrupt, merely trying to shield the woman he loves, which gets complicated because he’s equally protective of his kid brother, who is determined to pull at every loose thread. Wyatt is an unlikely femme fatale, less cold-blooded than practical, but Cobb is excellent as the tough mug of a cop swayed by love and Dall is bright and energetic as the rookie on his first big case. Filmmaker Felix E. Feist, a noir veteran, directs this budget-minded independent production with brisk efficiency and takes the camera out of the studio and into the city, although there is not much tension or style until the finale in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, where Feist makes superb use of the space during a cat-and-mouse hunt. Lost for many years, The Man Who Cheated Himself makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut in a dual-format edition featuring a new restoration from the Film Noir Foundation with UCLA, and extras including behind-the-scenes featurettes and a booklet. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)