Lois Fraser (Jane Wyatt) in the snittiest of moods announces she'll be filing for divorce, in The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950).
She will also cut her husband (Harlan Warde) out of her will, & as he has no wealth of his own, he could end up penniless.
When soonafter she learns he has bought a handgun, she suspects she's in deep doodoo for being so boastful about her bitchy intentions.
She calls Police Lieutenant Ed Cullen (Lee J. Cobb), a homicide detective with whom she has already been having an illicit affair. He rushes to her aid. He figures out what the husband's plan had got to be, just as the guy is sneaking into his own home to waylay his wife.
Lois in a panic shoots her husband dead. He's unarmed & she has committed, at best, manslaughter, though it could be mistaken for first degree murder.
In one of the dumbest decisions ever made by a seasoned detective, Ed decides that since he's the head homicide detective, he can easily cover up his lover's act by dumping the body at the airport where the guy had already arranged an alibi for himself.
Alas, a bright young detective, Ed's brother Andy Cullen (John Dall), has just joined the homicide squad. Without suspecting his brother, he just knows there's something fishy, & won't let go of the case.
Ed had thrown the weapon off the San Francisco bridge, not realizing it landed on a boat, to be used in another murder by Nito (Alan Wells), the son of a fisherman (Tito Vuolo).
When Nito can't be tied to the earlier murder, his story of how the gun came down from the bridge becomes believable. It won't take long for Andy to track down the gun's entire history.
It becomes a game of chess as Ed tries to throw Andy off the trail without giving himself away, & Andy closing in on who orchestrated the cover-up.
As a tale of clues, this San Francisco noir really is quite a well written piece. Jane Wyatt was perhaps the wrong face to be playing a bad girl & it's not one of her shining performances. Lee J. Cobb on the other hand turns in a great performance.
Before it's over, Ed will have as good as framed himself, & Lois will reveal herself pretty much the femme fatale. There's nothing greatly suprising in the plot, but it's a solid film noir with an edgily cynical climax.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl