Felix E Feist's The Man Who Cheated Himself is a solid film noir that pits two police officers/brothers against one and other in an engaging game of cat and mouse. The film opens on the wealthy Lois Frazer, a socialite, who is in the middle of divorcing her husband, a man she is cheating on with a seasoned homicide lieutenant, Ed Cullen. While perusing through her husband's things, she finds the receipt to a gun. When her husband arrives home in the middle of the night, Lois shoots and kills him, doing so out of state of fear for her own life. Ed Cullen arrives at the scene, helping Lois take care of the body and cover up the murder. Fortunately for the couple, Ed himself is assigned to the murder case, along with his younger brother, Andy, a newly-minted detective who is desperate to prove his worth. With The Man Who Cheated Himself, Felix E. Feist takes on a much more workmanlike approach to directing the feature, letting the pot-boiler plot between two brothers carry the film, with efficient yet un-flashy direction that keeps the film moving forward, rarely pulling attention away from these two characters. This is a film that is at its best when simply observing the cat-and-mouse game between Ed and Andy unfold, with lots of great moments of tension built around Ed's need to stay one step ahead of his brother. My favorite aspect of this is how Ed tries to shame his brother, attempting to use the fact that Andy has recently gotten married to his advantage by insinuating that he is neglecting his wife by working too long hours on their case. The film manages the relationship between these two brothers well, never forgetting their lifelong bond, while moving forward and examining how Ed's decision to choose Lois over his brother will inevitable shatter this bond. The Man Who Cheated Himself doesn't exactly show the character of Lois in a good light either, hinting throughout that she is a woman who is always looking out for herself. The final scene of the film confirms this suspicion, which finds Lois in a relationship with her defense attorney after Ed and herself are arrested. From a direction standpoint, the ending which takes place in this strange, abandoned warehouse of sorts is magnificent, with Andy running through the hallways looking for his brother Ed, the sound of his footsteps being the only noise present in the entire sequence. This final sequence is essentially a grown-up version of Hide-and-Seek, with Felix juxtaposing a childhood game with the inevitable arrest and deterioration of their brotherhood as they know it. Felix E. Feist's The Man Who Cheated Himself is a engaging, yet simple film noir, telling the story of two brothers and police officers who find themselves on the opposite end of the law.
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