In 1938, Walter Neff, an experienced salesman of the Pacific All Risk Insurance Co., meets the seductive wife of one of his clients, Phyllis Dietrichson, and they have an affair. Phyllis proposes to kill her husband to receive the proceeds of an accident insurance policy and Walter devises a scheme to receive twice the amount based on a double indemnity clause. When Mr. Dietrichson is found dead on a train track, the police accept the determination of accidental death. However, the insurance analyst and Walter's best friend Barton Keyes does not buy the story and suspects that Phyllis has murdered her husband with the help of another man. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Initially, Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler had intended to retain as much of the book's original dialogue as possible. It was Chandler who first realized that the dialogue from the novella would not translate well to the screen. Wilder disagreed and was annoyed that Chandler was not putting more of it into the script. To settle it, Wilder hired a couple of contract players from the studio to read passages of Cain's original dialogue aloud. To Wilder's astonishment, Chandler was right and, in the end, the movie's cynical and provocative dialogue was more Chandler and Wilder than it was Cain. See more »
Although set in 1938, Walter Neff makes reference to the "The Philadelphia Story", which did not debut on Broadway until 1939, and on film until 1940. See more »
Well, hello there, Mr. Neff.
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Opening credits are shown over a silhouette of a man on crutches, walking toward the camera. See more »
This film noir classic may be the best murder mystery of all time in this storied Hollywood genre. Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson are excellent but it is Barbara Stanwyck who really makes the picture come together as a woman without a moral compass. Stanwyck set the standard for tough, calculating, shady women who exploit men without shame or remorse and her masterful manipulation of MacMurray is the movie's central theme. The film's imagery is filled with shadows and low lighting, accompanied by a tense, brooding music score. Stanwyck spins her web of ensnarement like a black widow with her victim seemingly unaware of the danger that enfolds him. MacMurray provides the narrative of the film which is told in flashback and delivers a cryptic account of the events in a confession to a boss who trusted him completely. Robinson is on target as the skeptical and suspicious boss who has a sixth sense about phony insurance claims. A nice supporting cast contributes to this thriller, namely Richard Gaines and Porter Hall.
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