Noir City: The Man Who Cheated Himself and Iron Man

Were getting into the home stretch now, Noir Hounds. Last night started off with more crooked cop noir in The Man Who Cheated Himself.

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A cop falls for a married woman and helps her cover up her crime when she “accidentally” kills her inconvenient hubby. Only the cop’s rookie kid brother isn’t buying the cover up and can’t let the case go. It’s Noir City, baby, so we all know how this is gonna end but we’re happy to go along for the ride.

Some interesting casting here, including Lee J Cobb in a rare starring role and America’s favorite mom Jane Wyatt as the femme fatale. She’s wonderful, too. Total. Fucking. Bitch. Plus you get the feeling (spoilers!) that she’s gonna get away with it at the end. That she’s gonna let Cobb take the fall while she seduces her lawyer and walks away with a slap on the wrist. I love a femme fatale who gets away with murder.

Several other interesting things about this flick. First is the gorgeous and suspenseful climax inside Fort Point in San Francisco, a location made famous as the spot where Kim Novak jumps into the water in Vertigo.

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Then, on a more personal level, there’s a superb bondage sequence that employs one of my all time favorite plot devices, a person tied up and gagged who has to squirm across the room to get to the ringing phone. Of course, it’s kid brother John Dall, and not a beautiful damsel, that has been bound and gagged but still.

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Mistress Christa says, check it out.

Next up, on our B track, a boxing picture called Iron Man.

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That amazing tagline is way more noirish than the actual movie, a fact that host Eddie Muller admitted up front in the intro. But I love a vintage boxing flick, plus it featured Dark City Dame Evelyn Keyes and was based on a novel by WR Burnett, author of Little Caesar, High Sierra and Asphalt Jungle. Count me the fuck in.

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Also there were some great supporting players like Rock Hudson, Jim Backus and James “The Thing” Arness.

The plot follows a coal miner turned dirty boxer whose killer instinct far outweighs his talent. His ambitious brother and girlfriend conspire to keep him fighting long past when he should have quit, and the boos and jeers of the hateful crowd start to go to his head.

There are a hundred little moments when this noir-adjacent film could have been nudged over the border into Noir City, but somehow it just never happened. Of course there’s a happy ending too. Can’t exactly recommend this one, unless you’re a boxing movie completist, but hey, I enjoyed it and I’m glad it’s been restored. Also, did you ever notice that boxing films have the best ties?

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Anyway, tonight is the end of the line. The big finale. Hope to see you there for The Big Heat and Wicked Woman.

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