Directed by Edward Montagne; produced by Ed Gardner
An accountant (Barry Nelson) has his usual Wednesday. He wakes up, has breakfast, pats his dog and drives in to work. His wife is to collect him at the end of the day, but she doesn’t show up. Calling home, he’s treated as a stranger. When he at last gets there, he discovers why: a look-alike has taken not only his place but his identity - and his wife and brother-in-law believe the real man is the imposter.
This is the intriguing premise of The Man with My Face, its opening eerily reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. The film’s explanation, however, is not supernatural, but felonious, and is given to the viewer almost immediately (so I am ruining no suspense by elaborating it in part here). Nelson’s replacement in his life is part of a long-planned robbery scheme, the robber hoping to supplant an innocent victim and fob him off on authorities as the criminal police are seeking.
The plot is very implausible, involving a fake marriage, killer dogs and five years of waiting for the right moment. Superficially simple, the scheme has far too many hazards to be likely. As odd as it may seem, however, this does not make The Man with My Face a bad movie. The trick is to accept that the criminals’ conspiracy could work, and then just to run with Nelson as he seeks not to clear his name, but to get it back.
The acting ranges from good to bad, and the production values are cheap. But the movie benefits from the setting, a rare use of Puerto Rico in a feature film; the climax is set in the old Spanish fortress guarding the harbour (a setting which is probably no longer open to anyone and his dog who wants to run through it.) The actual conclusion is satisfyingly ironic.
There could be many improvements. The script not giving the game away so early would have made the movie much more suspenseful, and drawn the viewer in, keeping him interested, if only to find out the explanation for the imposture. The actors are largely unknown (and likely were at the time, too) except for Nelson and a young Jack Warden, and in some cases, the players were unknown for an obvious reason. But Nelson does a fine job in his dual role, and the script, despite its flaws, receives high marks for allowing people who know the two men well to differentiate them after a moment, as would likely be the case in real-life.
While The Man with My Face might have the viewer rolling his eyes in disbelief, it nonetheless manages to provide an entertaining time, and that’s what many ask of a movie.