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From the moment it starts, you know you're in for an incredible movie.
At almost 70 years old, this movie still has one of the most incredible
and memorable scripts. There are so many memorable lines. Those
delivered by Fred MacMurray are the most believable. Less than two
minutes in to my first viewing of this movie I knew I was in for
something special. That was about 15 years ago and after dozens of
viewings, I know I will never tire of it. A true American classic.
One of the first, and still best, films de noir. It doesn't get much better than this.
It's still a "honey of an anklet, Mrs. Dietrichson!"
I have not read the book or anything concerning the original case, and this is the only version that I've watched. If the novel is this spellbinding, I may have to get a copy. I suppose I should address something before I get into the review itself; yes, the story is quite similar to The Postman Always Rings Twice(and while this is superior, I would definitely suggest giving that one a whirl, too... the original, that is). It's the same author, and they aren't identical. They are also both somewhat reminiscent of Macbeth. Other than that I did not find myself falling in love with these leads(as I did in the Garfield/Turner one), I really cannot complain about this film(and I won't even attempt to argue against the immense chemistry that this duo has; they light the screen on fire). I have not seen a lot of Wilder's work, but I thoroughly enjoyed Some Like It Hot, as well. This is a classic piece of noir, and ought to get a viewing by every fan of such. The brilliant dialog and narration is full of metaphors, plays on words(and the like) and every line is carefully phrased, with several utterly unforgettable exchanges. Editing and cinematography are excellent. The lighting and use of shadows... incredible. This does an amazing job of building suspense and tension. The plot is well-written, and the twists are impeccable. Every acting performance is spot-on. The characters are credible and well-developed, and the women are allowed strong-willed moments. MacMurray is rather cool. There is a little racism and sexism(on account of when it was made), some innuendo and brief mild and not graphic violence in this. I recommend this to everyone into these movies. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With all the great actors (such as Humphrey Bogart), directors (like John Huston and Fritz Lang) and femme fatales (see "The Postman Always Rings Twice" or "The Killers"), it's quite surprising that an actor rarely mentioned with the all time greats, a director known for making comedies, and an actress supposedly over the hill would combine to make the greatest film noir. However, Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" trumps all other entries in the genre, even the great ones like "The Maltese Falcon" and "M". Based on James M. Cain's novel, the story follows insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who enters his office one night bleeding from a bullet wound. Neff dictates his confession to his boss and friend Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). He describes his first encounter with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who convinces him to help her murder her husband for his life insurance. The inquisitive Keyes, however, is not ready to call Mr. Dietrichson's death accidental just yet, and soon enough Neff and Phyllis turn against each other, culminating in an unforgettable finish. The script is full of dialogue that is delivered in a humorous way (like Keyes's speech about suicide) by talented actors-the three leads are all terrific. MacMurray is the austere antihero present in just about all film noirs, but it's Stanwyck and Robinson that make the acting in this stand apart. As Phyllis, she starts off with an almost childlike innocence, but by the end has proved herself to be one of the most reprehensible of all characters in cinema history. Robinson provides comic relief as Keyes, but at the same time delivers several dramatic speeches. Billy Wilder does a terrific job with his direction, creating a milieu of darkness, the quintessential setting for a film noir. The murder scene in the car and the first encounter between Neff and Phyllis in Neff's apartment are two of the most conspicuous examples of Wilder's manipulation of light and darkness to engender the aforementioned ambiance. Miklos Rosza also provides a suspenseful score helping to capture the mood throughout. As a whole, "Double Indemnity" simply takes all of the necessary aspects for a film noir and accomplishes them , resulting in the greatest entry in one of Hollywood's best genres.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Double Indemnity is very representative of 1940's Noir. It contains all
the main traits of the genre and period. It manages to be relevant even
in modern times as well.
Double Indemnity's greatest asset is its plot. The story is very complex and there are no pointless scenes. The viewer will be surprised by the film's many twists.
The writing is occasionally dated, but is mostly good and helps develop the characters. Fred MacMurray, playing the lead role, is solid and Edward G. Robinson is the movie's standout(as one would expect.) But I do not understand the hype around Barbara Stanwyck in this film. She was over the top and often hammy in my opinion. Nonetheless, her performance is praised by most.
Billy Wilder directed the film well. The script does not call for artistry, but Wilder still manages a few lovely shots. That is a tribute to him as a film maker.
Double Indemnity is suspenseful. This comes mostly from the plot twists. There are very few violent scenes in the movie. Wilder used low key drama to get the heart pounding.
Any fan of Noir must watch this film. That is all that really must be said.
This is a classic movie that is made by its story. It has a great deep
murder-plot, with normal characters being put in not so normal
circumstances. Within its genre this is simply one fine movie, that
with all of its ingredients embodies the crime/film-noir genre of the
Like all of these movies it begins all rather simple, with a good thought out murder-plot but of course soon things start to go from bad to worse. This is what I like mostly about this type of movies. Characterers change throughout the movie and the plot thickens fast. It's really a movie that gets better by the minute and besides also features plenty of nice twists and developments. A real fine constructed movie.
It's of course also being made great by it's atmosphere, that I don't consider typically film-noir like, cinematography and directing by Billy Wilder, who handled a lot of different genres successfully throughout his career, film-noir being just one of them. He also helped to write the screenplay for this movie. His directing and writing both earned him an Oscar nomination for this movie. The movie got nominated for a total of 7 Oscar's, including best picture but it won none however. Nevertheless the movie has grown out to be more of a classic than the movies that did won an Oscar over "Double Indemnity" that year.
Fred MacMurray isn't really the best known actor but he suits his role in this movie just fine. He really fits in well within the genre. I wasn't too happy about Barbara Stanwyck though, who has played far better roles throughout her career. She also looked quite ridicules with her blond wig. Ironically enough she still got nominated for an Oscar for her role in this movie. It was great to see Edward G. Robinson in this. It was the first time ever he appeared in a film-noir and prior to this he was mostly known for his tough roles in gangster-movies.
A must-see for the fans of the genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
the dialogue is about as good as it gets especially where phyliss mentions the speed limit in the state---there is 1 error i noticed--neff said he and Lola went behind the Hollywood bowl yet it appears the front of the bowl is facing them--I've been to the bowl and thats the impression i got--this movie has its minor holes but the overall film is a masterpiece--by the way if i had to name a perfect film it would be Lawrence of Arabia---story photography acting music--in closing I've always wondered why wilder had neff straighten out the rug---i don't think i have seen it mentioned ever in posts--not to be too lurid I'm thinking maybe it suggests lovemaking---am i wrong--please respond--thanks for this venue
Paramount Studio's 1944 release Double Indemnity is one of the best
examples of true-to-form film noir. The plot of the film is
straightforward. Fueled by greed, a wife decides to take out an
insurance policy on her unsuspecting husband, with plans of murdering
him for the proceeds. The policy contains a double indemnity clause,
which will pay twice the policy amount in the event of death by
accident. To make her plan succeed, she enlists the help of an
accomplice to help murder her spouse and make it seem accidental.
Adapted from a novel by James M. Cain, Double Indemnity is loosely based on the real-life Snyder-Gray murder case of 1927, in which a New York housewife persuaded her young lover to commit murder. The woman had taken out a double indemnity life insurance policy on her husband without his knowledge. The murder succeeded but the killers were caught and executed the following year. Just as actual events influenced the making of this film, Double Indemnity has influenced numerous movies based on the same premise, the most notable of which are 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice and 1981's Body Heat.
The film stars Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, a fast-talking insurance salesman, attempting to pull the perfect fraud job. It is Fred MacMurray who is narratting the film. Of course he didn't start out with that idea - it all stated when he met, and immediately fell for, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). From there the tale she spins of her unhappy marriage, complicated by a tempestuous relationship with stepdaughter Lola, takes him on the slippery slope to crime. With his extensive knowledge of the insurance business, nothing can stop Walter from covering his tracks ingeniously except the analytical skills of his friend, the fraud investigator Barton Keyes.
Frequently told in flashbacks, this movie is utterly compelling from the word go. It's interesting to ponder whether this film could have had the same impact if it had been shot in colour - but I don't think so. The filming is spot on, the camera angles, use of shadow and perspectives on the actors all add to the tension of the film. The screen does sometimes get so dark as to be impossible to tell what's going on in a couple of scenes, but this is done deliberately so as to add to the suspense.
The film is very wordy, as so many films of the era were and the dialogue is often brilliant. Billy Wilder's direction is another part of the key to this film's being in the IMDb Top 250 Movies of All Time list and also features in the Top 50 among the IMDb Film Noir list in fact at # 3 when I last saw it. There are moments of humour to lighten the mood and scenes of compelling drama / intrigue / emotion. With the excellent acting, awesome script and breathtaking art direction / cinematography it makes one of the best films of all time in a lot of peoples' list - including mine.
In case you didn't know (I didn't), the term "Double Indemnity" refers to an insurance clause where a double payment is handed out if someone whose life is insured dies in an unusual manner. Theoretically of course the chances of this happening are remote, meaning little danger of them ever having to pay it out and cases when someone has died in this manner shortly after taking out a life insurance policy would automatically be viewed as suspicious. The way Walter covers his tracks, and the way Barton uncovers them, are quite brilliant and show (to a layman at least) a deep knowledge of the insurance business.
Double Indemnity was nominated for no less that seven Oscars; sadly it didn't win a single one. But from 1944, it's popularity has increased year after year and when you talk of noir movies DOuble Indemnity instantly come to ones mind.
Double Idemnity is very fine film-making - with both Raymond Chandler
and Billy Wilder on board and a killer cast (pun intended) it's a
winner all the way.
For us it's the script, the cool, almost bebop rhythm of the words, staccato and tense - it must have been amazing to hear this first time round - a use of language that just blows you away every time.
An excellent plot, brilliant filming, and great acting all the way - murder never seemed so easy or the guilt and repercussions so brilliantly handled.
It still works - 65 years on this is still a fresh slice of cinema that deserves each of its seven Oscar nominations - dark, cold, twisted - brilliant!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the 1990's I managed to see this film as part of my film history
class. Only knowing Fred McMurray from the TV series "My Three Sons",
this was a welcomed changed. I've seen this movie countless times.
The film begins from the end, and takes you through the journey of how they got there. A rather unique way considering other movies of the 1940s, then again, film noir was itself a brand new mode of film making.
Barbara Stanwyck was the perfect blend of beauty and danger that made her the perfect femme fa-tale. Who can forget her entrance, posed a top the stairway, clothed in only a towel. As Walter Neff is hooked by her, you are as well, and you are along for the trolley ride, as Edward G. Robinson points out.
The way The Neff character plans his alibi is beyond genius, and it also shows that this rather mild mannered looking man himself has a dark side. The plan is perfect, even to the viewer. Though you know how it's all going to turn out, you still expect them both to get away with murder. You even applaud Neff's protection of the young daughter, who's now lost both her mother and father. While Neff's explanation is that he is seeing if she'll tell about her mothers action the night before her father's death, by the end, you see that his act of kindness towards the young girl was genuine.
Enter Edward G. Robinson, who became my all time favorite actor after I saw this. Robinson, himself many times the ruthless film villain, is on the other side now. He's hunting down the killers as he tries to save the insurance company from paying the double indemnity clause. Robinson talks about his "little man" likes he's an actual person, and who believe Robinson when he talks about him.
The climax is exciting without being action packed. It presents the last bit of drama, as a one man is forced to turn his best friend over for the crimes he's done. That is the hidden drama in this tale.
The movie is one of the best, bar none, and is one of the quiet films never mentioned in the same breath as CasleBlanca, Maltese Falcon, or Pride of the Yankees. Maybe it should be.
"Double Indemnity" is a 1944 film directed by Billy Wilder, and it's a
classic. The plot has been around forever - a beautiful woman seduces a
man because she wants him to help kill her husband. What Wilder does
with it demonstrates his mastery.
Wilder's genius starts with the casting of Fred MacMurray, Everyman if there ever was one, as Walter, an insurance man. A boring profession and what appears to be an ordinary, albeit attractive man who is also a good salesman. Barbara Stanwyck is Phyllis, the femme fatale. Blonde with a beautiful figure, an icy, challenging manner, and a seductive voice. Edward G. Robinson is Keyes, the insurance investigator and good friend of Walter's. Dogged yet warm as he follows clues to what he believes is a murder and not an accident.
There's nothing tender about the MacMurray-Stanwyck love affair, and Stanwyck delivers her lines in a cold, calculating way - the same way she does the love scenes. Walter comes off as fresh at first - what salesman would flirt with a married woman as obviously as he does - but he probably realizes when Phyllis appears wrapped in a towel that she probably wants him to. There's nothing spontaneous about Phyllis asking about life insurance for her husband; it's been on her mind since Walter showed up to renew the car insurance. The minute she says she doesn't want her husband to know about it, Walter knows what she's up to. Though their plan is brilliant, Keyes is smarter than they realize.
I love the way it's introduced into the plot that Phyllis was the first Mrs. Diedrickson's nurse and that Lola, Phyllis' stepdaughter, suspects Phyllis hurried her mother's death along. I also love Walter's cold feet as he becomes interested in Lola - but it's too late.
"Double Indemnity" can only be described as compelling - it's not action-packed but there isn't a wasted or slow second. Stanwyck, who could be a very likable actress, plays a real conniver, and she does so brilliantly. MacMurray gives a relaxed performance - he's actually perfect casting, as one can see how easily he gets sucked into Phyllis' plan. Edward G. Robinson is the film's anchor as Keyes, who is like a father to Walter but also a man who takes his job very seriously. He's determined to get to the truth of the case, and every word he says is like chalk on a blackboard to the guilty Walter.
Wilder's brilliant direction and pacing shows in every frame, and the surprise ending is the icing on the cake. A great noir, a dream cast, a great director, Hollywood at its very best.
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