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Set in Puerto Rico, doppelganger thriller lacks plausibility (and style) but holds attention
Wildly improbable but seldom less than absorbing, The Man With My Face has the distinction of being the only film noir set in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. That's where Barry Nelson settled down after the war and where he runs a little business with his old army buddy, now his brother-in-law, John Harvey. But one evening he returns home to his cozy bungalow only to find his tough-faced wife (Lynn Ainley) staring at him as if he had suddenly grown a second head. In a sense he has, because there in his living room is his exact double, having drinks and playing cards. And as far as Ainley and Harvey are concerned, this newcomer is the real husband and business partner, respectively. Even his little pooch bites Nelson on the hand.
Turned out into the Caribbean warm, Nelson enlists the help of an old girlfriend (Carole Mathews) whom he had thrown over for the blonde if shopworn Ainley. Mathews' protective brother (Jack Warden) stays wary, but soon joins in trying to figure out the puzzle. It doesn't take long, because Nelson's face is on the front page - as a Miami bank robber who got away with half a million. This robber - the double - has been in league with the wife and brother-in-law since long before the marriage. Rounding out the gang is another war veteran, but as a member of K-9 corps - a Doberman trained to kill; his slavering maw turns several hapless victims into bowls of Alpo.
Edward Montagne directed, who the year before had made The Tattooed Stranger, a starvation-budget police procedural shot on location - then a rarity - in New York City. Like that strange and seedy movie, The Man With My Face shares a cast that, apart from Nelson, had few credits behind them (or ahead of them); it shows little visual dimension, either, having been shot entirely in flat subtropical sunshine. But the doppelganger theme holds attention, despite the fact that its ironies and perversities are never pursued to real satisfaction. It's pure plot, and far-fetched at that, but in its modest way it works.
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