YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 10: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

The Man Who Cheated Himself serves up yet another fascinating noir opening.

We see a man, alone in a room, occupied with several tasks – putting bullets in a gun and carefully stashing it in a bureau, burning a box in a fireplace, using a poker to do some damage to a door. What’s his deal? What’s the correlation between these seemingly random acts? But before we get a chance to find out, in storms his wife, Lois Frazer (Jane Wyatt), and boy, is she pissed! (Apologies to my mom for using that word.) Turns out that Lois and her hubby, Howard (Harlan Warde), aren’t exactly on good terms. And that’s putting it mildly.

This film is what I think of as a minor noir, nothing flashy, certainly no classic – but it’s got a solid story, brisk direction, and a trio of top-notch stars: Lee J. Cobb, who can always be counted on for an outstanding performance; Jane Wyatt, playing a rare bad-girl role; and the versatile John Dall, who you’ll recognize from The Corn is Green (1945), Rope (1948), or Gun Crazy (1950).

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

These three make the most of every scene.

Cobb is Lt. Cullen, who’s having an affair with the very married Lois. When a murder is committed in front of Cullen, he helps to cover it up. And he does a good job of it – but he may not be good enough to fool his kid brother (Dall), a police detective working his first case.

WHAT ELSE?

Lisa Howard was memorable as Dall’s wife.

Felix Feist, the film’s director, also helmed a couple of hard-hitting, down-and-dirty noirs, The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and The Threat (1949). He also wrote and directed the sci-fi feature Donovan’s Brain (1953).

More on Feist (kind of). His first wife, Lisa Howard, had a featured part in the film, as John Dall’s devoted bride. She also appeared in Donovan’s Brain. But by 1953, she and Feist were divorced and she was remarried to producer Walter Lowendahl. Howard appeared in a number of other films and TV series (including the soap opera The Edge of Night), but she found bigger success as a journalist – she was one of the first women to have her own television news show (ABC’s The NewsHour with Lisa Howard), and she scored interviews with such high-profile personages as Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, and the Shah of Iran. Sadly, she suffered a miscarriage in 1965, and committed suicide a few weeks later – two months before Felix Feist died of cancer at the age of 55.

TOMORROW . . .

Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 11 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 10, 2020.

4 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 10: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)”

  1. It is a solid movie. The cast makes you care and I swear I can feel that blowing wind.

    How interesting to know the background of Lisa Howard, and how sad.

  2. I didn’t know Lisa Howard’s story, either. Tragic, really.

    I have never been a fan of this movie, but you’ve persuaded me to give it another go.

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