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This remake of the 1946 movie of the same name accounts an affair between a seedy drifter and a seductive wife of a roadside café owner. This begins a chain of events that culminates in murder. Written by
Craig Clarke <email@example.com>
After the success of this movie, Butterfly (1982), another filmed adaptation of a novel by 'James M Cain' was made and released the following year. Also released in 1981 was Body Heat (1981) which though not technically a remake of Double Indemnity (1944) (also from the novel by James M. Cain) did reference it considerably. The story and characters closely parallel the earlier film. Ned, Matty and Oscar are Walter, Phyllis and Keyes respectively. See more »
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This novel adaptation was the second after a first movie in the 1940s. This one retains the period setting but ups the ante in terms of sexual content, featuring one of the most explicit sex scenes ever shown in a mainstream film which goes far further than any film before - or since.
The plot is simple in the extreme: the wife of a Greek man who runs his own diner, bored and neglected by her husband, begins a torrid affair with a drifter her husband employs as his mechanic. From there on in, the story gradually develops in often fascinating ways as the two lovers realise that only one thing's stopping their happiness: her husband.
The film is shot through with a grim and gritty emphasis, best realised by Nicholson's grubby mechanic. He's nobody's idea of a sex symbol, although Jessica Lange is quite ravishing as the object of his attentions. This focus on realism over Hollywood fantasy is what makes the film so watchable and, in places, uncomfortable as it becomes clear that the lovers have something of a sado-masochistic relationship.
Things move into courtroom-drama territory later on (featuring some terrific acting work from Michael Lerner as the lawyer) whilst handing a number of blink-and-you'll-miss-em minor parts to familiar faces (John P. Ryan as a blackmailer, Angelica Houston as - bizarrely - a circus owner, cult favourite Don Calfa as a circus hand, Brion James as a thug and Christopher Lloyd as a salsman).
I found the film to be sometimes compelling and never boring. It's one of those films you watch to find out just what happens to the central characters, a curiosity bolstered by the feeling that they're never going to unentangle themselves from this mess. Come the surprise climax, well...you'll have to see for yourself.
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