The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)
Though this plot may have been used previously in the Noir genre and again subsequently, it’s a solid “B” feature with Lee J. Cobb in over his head as a police detective trying to cover up a murder that he’s become party to.
Cobb has been carrying on an affair with the married Jane Wyatt. During the opening scenes her husband walks out on her or so she believes. Her main worry is the gun that was purchased and she places a call to Lee J. begging him to come quickly as she feels she’s about to be murdered.
“You’re a big girl now. Cut out the tantrums.” our smooth detective calmly tells her.
Upon his arrival and subsequent embrace her husband mysteriously enters through the patio doors. Gun in hand, Jane notices the door ajar and fires killing the figure coming towards her. Cobb is on the spot and either turns her in which probably would have been the best option or cover it up. Her pleas and his desires lead him down the wrong path like many good men before him caught up in the shadows of Noir.
Compounding Cobb’s problems are his younger brother on the force played by John Dall. He himself is a budding detective working alongside Cobb. He’s working the case of the body found dumped in an alley that turns out to be Wyatt’s hubby. Cobb is trying his best to help solve the case without too much pressure until he lucks into a second killing.
It seems that when he dumped the murder weapon it was found and used in a heist by a young man. The weapon was fired killing an employee. When Cobb and Dall catch the killer and ballistics match up the bullets found in each body, Cobb figures he has his patsy.
Certain facts don’t quite match up and Dall pushes on behind Cobb’s back as he comes to suspect that his brother is trying too hard to pin the earlier murder on the young boy and his movements have become suspect on the night of the killing.
Location filming helps this black and white mystery down the stretch as the inevitable tightening of Cobb’s shirt collar begins to cause him to make mistakes in plotting his getaway with Jane.
Strictly a low budget “B” film here from producer Jack M. Warner. That is indeed the son of Jack L. Warner who headed up Warners for years. “B specialist Felix E. Feist served as director. Feist also helmed the solid 1949 gangster film The Threat and the 1951 Steve Cochran film Tomorrow is Another Day. Feist works some nice angles near the fade out of this 80 minute feature.
Jane Wyatt was nearing the end of her film career by this point and would work mainly in television through to the 1980’s. Notably as the Mother of Spock in the universe of Star Trek.
Perhaps I wasn’t quite paying attention or maybe there were few a holes in here but overall not a bad time killer and with Lee J. Cobb known to many as Johnny Friendly or Willy Loman getting involved why not give it a look.