Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Man Who Cheated Himself|
Actors: Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
A veteran homicide detective witnesses his girlfriend kill her former husband.
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The Queen of Noirs | Santa Clara, CA USA | 12/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now this a classy noir! Handsome, affable John Dall, world weary Lee J. Cobb, and snarly beeee-otch Jane Wyman combine to great effect in this beautifully shot film noir about the power that a fine piece of tart has over a small-minded man. Filmed in San Francisco to great effect. Our story: big and little brothers Cullen are police detectives in San Francisco. Big Bro (Cobb) has a dame habit, and how. His current paramour (Wyman) has a ne'er do well hubby who is planning to off her for the money. One night honey and hubby meet and much to my surprise wifey does the shooting. Big bro sets little bro on the case and through twists and turns little bro clings tight to the case and it all ends badly but not for the poor widow! Oooo did I give it away?
John Dall is a terribly underrated actor. I love this film and his role in it. The three leads are all excellent, the story is genuinely engaging, with the brothers pitted against one another giving the whole thing a sad, tense edge. The city of SF looks fabulous and I wish you could still drive around it like that. And park everywhere you needed to. And have a nice studio apartment with glass ceilings. I bet they removed those after the earthquake(s). I digress.
Highly recommended for all fans of the genre!"
Not Much of a Script, but an Interesting Example of Changing
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 06/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Man Who Cheated Himself" is a minor film noir that exemplifies the changing social mores as the United States enters the Eisenhower era. Police Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb) is an experienced detective with a hardened workaday attitude and a wealthy mistress, Lois Frazer. Lois (Jane Wyatt) is seeking a divorce from husband Howard (Harlan Warde). Convinced that Howard is out to kill her, Lois turns to Ed in a fit of panic. When Howard tries to rob his wife's home before leaving town, Lois shoots him, and Ed is left to cover up the crime. Ed is also in charge of the investigation into Howard's death, and his partner is none other than his younger brother Andy (John Dall), recently married, recently promoted, and eager to solve his first case.
"The Man Who Cheated Himself" is true to its self-righteous title. It shames Ed Cullen for his bachelor lifestyle and scandalous taste in women. But these are two-dimensional characters in a pedestrian script. Jane Wyatt's performance is wooden. Andy's earnestness is cloying. Lee J. Cobb is perfectly cast as the man who walks both sides of the law, but it's unfortunate that he's not given much to work with. This film is most valuable as an example of the sharp turn that even the pulpiest fiction took into the 1950s. Filmed in 1950, it showcases the post-war ideals of the nuclear family and middle class stability and conformity, in sharp contrast to the film noir of the 1940s.
The femme fatale, Lois, is not clever. She's stupid, hysterical, and always in need of a man. Not for money; she's rich. She's emotionally needy. If this were high noir, Ed and brother Andy might have been the same character. Now they are split into two: Andy's the good guy, the future of an optimistic nation -young, hardworking, honest, married, monogamous. Ed has avoided the settled life and has therefore become ensnared by a wicked woman who ruins his morals. It is no longer fashionable to consider that a good man might fall for a bad woman, so Ed and Andy must be two different people. Andy, the good guy, would never be enticed by Lois, the sort of woman who wears a satin evening gown around the house. But Ed, with his string of girlfriends and reluctance to conform, is ensnared.
There's not much to it. "The Man Who Cheated Himself" had no depth when it was made. But there are plenty of ideas to be mined if you compare it to the film noir of the 1940s. The American feminine and masculine ideals changed radically between 1950 and 1955, and that is preserved for posterity. 1950 is very early in the decade to see women so trivialized and married life so idealized. Though, in truth, there is a saccharine superficiality to Andy. It's interesting that the male protagonists of the 1950s were dressed more plainly and were much less angsty than in the 1940s, yet that did not always translate into greater masculinity. John Dall was a gay man who was often cast in roles that called for a lack of conventional masculinity. And here he is the post-war ideal. Hmmm.
The DVD (Alpha Home Entertainment 2008): This is a poor transfer of a poor print. It is often slightly fuzzy, out of focus. There are some scratches, and the picture is jumpy. Sound is crackly, not clean, but it is clear enough that it is only occasionally distracting. So it's watchable, but a better print would be appreciated. There are no subtitles or bonus features. There is a scene menu."
EXCELLENT LITTLE KNOWN NOIR THRILLER!!!
Richard J. Oravitz | 01/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lee J. Cobb has the lead role in this noirish nightmare of fate closing in. In the style of DOUBLE INDEMINITY, cop Cobb covers up for lover Jane Wyatt who kills her husband when he attempts to murder her. It seems that nothing can go wrong. The alibi is perfect, the witnesses are out in left field and a liquor store killer is ripe for the rap...However, in film noir Cobb doesn't stand a chance as his rookie cop brother figures things out. Fate, fate, fate...
Great script, acting, and San Francisco locations circa 1950 make this a winner on all counts!...However, the film has fallen into public domain and although the visual is quite acceptible there are jumps and cuts/splices and the soundtrack is pretty shabby with hisses, pops and humming, though some scenes are really very good.
So, if you're looking for a neat little noir then the price is right for this this mini-classic. Recommended viewing."