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The Man With My Face

Posted by martinteller on November 10, 2012

“You got a pretty throat, Cora.  Don’t put a rope around it.”

Chick Graham (Barry Nelson) has a nice life.  He lives in Puerto Rico, and runs a two-man accounting firm with his army buddy Buster (John Harvey).  He’s married to Buster’s sister, Cora (Lynn Ainley).  He’s got a cute little dog.  Then one day he comes home… and finds someone who looks exactly like him in his place!  His wife doesn’t know him, his partner doesn’t know him, and his dog tries to bite him.  And now he’s accused of being Bert Rand (also Barry Nelson) and he’s wanted for a big heist!  On the run from the cops, he turns to the only other people who know him, his old flame Mary (Carole Mathews) and her brother Walt (Jack Warden).

Recently, the Filmspotting podcast counted down their top 5 doppelganger movies.  This one wouldn’t have a chance.  Calling this story ludicrous is putting it lightly.  A five-year plan in the making that involves lookalikes, stolen mail, fingerprints, conspiracy, forgery, and a trained killer Doberman.  It’s not impossible but it strains credibility beyond the breaking point.  And the thing is, you can tell someone thought this script was really, really clever.  It isn’t.  It’s very shabby as it tries to explain things and includes some clunky dialogue, like the whole thing about the roulette wheel of life.

But it is entertaining.  Direct Edward Montagne was responsible for one of the worst noirs I’ve ever seen, The Tattooed Stranger.  This one isn’t all that much more noir-ish but it’s fun to watch and has some good moments.  The meeting with Rand’s old girlfriend Juanita (Chinita Marina) has a certain edge to it, and the final chase through the ruins (the only part of the movie that really capitalizes on the exotic locale) is exciting enough and constructed well.  The film’s premise is goofy, but it’s so goofy you end up just going along with it.

Barry Nelson — primarily a TV actor but perhaps better known as Stuart Ullman in The Shining — is not the most compelling leading man, but he handles the dual role nicely enough.  He’s more convincing as the earnest but gullible Chick Graham than the nasty, scheming Bert Rand.  Among the supporting performances, it’s the smaller roles that stand out the most.  Chinita Marina’s hardened Latina floozy, Jack Warden being stern and sensible, and most of all Jim Boles as the creepy dog trainer.  These are some proper noir characters.  The leading ladies aren’t that impressive, but Mathews certainly is a pretty gal.  She fares better here than in the trashy — and equally silly — Swamp Women.

A movie that’s impossible to take seriously, but is good enough for a casual watch on a Saturday afternoon.  Rating: Fair (66)

IMDb
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