Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

The Man Who Cheated Himself

The Man Who Cheated Himself
February 15, 2019 - 11:20 pm
Intro by film historian Alan K. Rode.

Access every screening in the UCLA Festival of Preservation with a $50 pass.

The Man Who Cheated Himself  (1951)

Preservation funding provided by the Film Noir Foundation in memory of Joseph K. McLaughlin.

Actor Lee J. Cobb was just completing an incredibly successful run as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman when he accepted the part of veteran San Francisco Police Lieutenant Ed Cullen in The Man Who Cheated Himself. Cobb’s Broadway success obviously inspired producer Jack Warner Jr. to cast him in his first leading role in this Phoenix Films independent production released by 20th Century Fox and scribed by famous Warner Bros. action adventure screenwriter Seton I. Miller.

With a substantial background in short subjects including the Crime Doesn’t Pay series, director Felix E. Feist delivers a finely paced film noir with all the traditional trappings:  an adulterous femme fatale accidentally kills her estranged husband and subsequently sets up a brooding Cullen to take the fall with foreseeably disastrous effect. The traditionally ebullient Jane Wyatt plays against type as the philandering Lois Frazer in a performance bordering on restrained camp.

Hot off his starring role in Gun Crazy earlier that same year, actor John Dall plays the cheating Lieutenant’s hotshot younger brother detective who is out to prove himself despite all of our anti-hero’s roadblocks. Playing Dall’s wife is the talented and underrated actress Lisa Howard who would go on to great fame in the 1960s as the American journalist who was the first to score an interview with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and the first woman to have her own television news program.

It is, though, the city of San Francisco that takes center stage in this neat little noir potboiler. Six-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Russell Harlan—known for his beautiful epic Western vistas—utilizes dramatic Fort Point at the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge as the hauntingly eerie location of the film’s exciting climax.—Todd Wiener

35mm, b/w, 80 min. Production: Jack M. Warner Productions. Distribution: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Producer: Jack M. Warner. Director: Felix Feist. Screenwriter: Seton I. Miller, Philip Macdonald. Cinematographer: Russell Harlan. Production Designer: Van Nest Polglase. Cast: Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall, Lisa Howard.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive. Laboratory services by Fotokem, Audio Mechanics, Simon Daniel Sound, DJ Audio, Inc. Special thanks to Schawn Belston, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.