Friday, September 14, 2018

Tonight's Movie: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) - A Flicker Alley Blu-ray Review

Film noir fans have a real treat in store with the new Flicker Alley Blu-ray/DVD release of THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF (1950).

Flicker Alley's release, in conjunction with the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA, is of UCLA's brand-new restoration of this terrific film. I first saw it last year at the Noir City Hollywood Festival, and then I enjoyed seeing the new UCLA print this year at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.

This is a tremendously fun film, and anyone who has seen the Flicker Alley releases of TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) and WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950) knows what a fine job was done with those sets. THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF is an equally attractive release, from case cover art to disc contents, and the print is superb.

THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF is San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb), who's having a fling with wealthy Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt). Lois believes her husband has plans to kill her, so she shoots him first...and then Ed makes his big mistake, deciding he'll help Lois avoid any complications by dumping hubby's body in the San Francisco Bay.

Needless to say, the complications for Ed and Lois are actually only just beginning...especially with Ed's inquisitive, observant kid brother Andy (John Dall), himself a newly minted police detective, asking way too many questions.

I really love this film, with its unusual choices for lead actors, and I particularly enjoy Wyatt's highly entertaining, over-the-top performance as the femme fatale of the piece. TV's future "perfect mom" alternates manipulative whining with nerves of steel, and her final kiss-off to the rueful, helpless Cobb as she walks away in their last scene is priceless.

Dall is appealing as the man who's increasingly dismayed as all trails seem to lead back to his brother; this was released the same year as his classic GUN CRAZY (1950). Lisa Howard, who was married to the film's director, Felix E. Feist, and later became a journalist, plays Andy's artist bride.

This fast-paced 81-minute film was filmed in black and white by Russell Harlan. The movie's appeal is accentuated by many outstanding San Francisco locations shot by Harlan, with the final, extremely memorable sequence taking place in Fort Point, years before it was immortalized by Alfred Hitchcock in VERTIGO (1958).

This is a combination set which includes both Blu-ray and DVD discs. The extras include two featurettes, a longer 22-minute discussion of the film's production and a short but nifty look at the movie's locations; a restored version of the original theatrical trailer; and a glossy 24-page souvenir booklet, which has terrific photos.

I especially enjoyed the locations featurette; my own 2017 photos of the movie's Fort Point location may be found here. (Incidentally, there's a terrific photo spread of Fort Point on the inside of the case.) It was fun to learn that while most of the location shooting was done in San Francisco, the exterior of Jane Wyatt's home was in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

I do wish that this set had followed in the footsteps of TOO LATE FOR TEARS and WOMAN ON THE RUN and also provided a commentary track, but other than wishing for that, this is a terrific top-drawer release which is a must for anyone who loves film noir.

Thanks to Flicker Alley for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray/DVD set.

THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF may be purchased at the Flicker Alley website as well as through retailers such as Amazon.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jerry Entract said...

A commentary track by the esteemed Mr. Roan would have been icing on the cake!!

This is a terrific 'noir' and a is recommended to any fan that has not yet seen the film. It has not been easy to find until recently and is a real 'sleeper'.

I'm fully with Laura in her opinion here.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Thanks for the review--- Same day as Savant's. IT's on my list, but I resent having to buy both BD and DVD. Looking forward to it.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I like this movie too. I'm so glad it was finally remastered. I saw it on youtube a while ago, the copy is pretty bad.

My only very minor problem is Jane Wyatt as femme fatale. It works, though only barely. Her last scene however makes up for any reservations I have about her portrayal.
The location shooting is fantastic.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for adding your recommendation, Jerry! This film was one of my favorite discoveries of the last few years.

Bill, glad you mentioned Savant reviewed it. Always enjoy reading him, and when I went over to his review I discovered a nice link in the last line, to my San Francisco locations post:

https://trailersfromhell.com/the-man-who-cheated-himself/

Thanks to the Savant!!

Margot, if you haven't seen the Flicker Alley release yet, you're going to be really wowed by this print after watching it on YouTube!!

I liked what Eddie Muller says in the featurette, that Wyatt's character is almost putting on a "performance" for Cobb's character in the film. I think it's true and sort of explains some of her florid performance, although she's also highly melodramatic when he's not in the room. Yet she's so cool at other times -- that last scene really does help make the movie, doesn't it? And some of my favorite movie location work ever!

Best wishes,
Laura

4:08 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

TCM is showing this very early in the morning tomorrow (Tuesday the 25th). Too bad I need to sleep....

8:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Seth, Hope you can catch up with it another time if you slept through it...or maybe via the Flicker Alley set! Fun movie, hope you'll enjoy it.

Best wishes,
Laura

10:38 PM  

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