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
One day during production Raymond Chandler failed to show up at work and was tracked down at his home; he went through a litany of reasons why he could no longer work with director Billy Wilder. 'Mr. Wilder frequently interrupts our work to take phone calls from women" . . . " Mr. Wilder ordered me to open up the window. He did not say please" . . . "He sticks his baton in my eyes" . . . "I can't work with a man who wears a hat in the office. I feel he is about to leave momentarily". Unless Wilder apologized, Chandler threatened to resign. Wilder surprised himself by apologizing. "It was the first--and probably only--time on record in which a producer and director ate humble pie, in which the screenwriter humiliated the big shots." See more »
Walter Neff is unmarried, yet he wears a wedding ring throughout the movie. 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 »
Barbara Stanwyck changed the trajectory of her career with her ruthless, icy performance here. Fred MacMurray, however, would never again allow himself to duplicate anything similar to Walter Neff's troubled, doomed portrayal again on screen. Playing against their dark alliance, it is left to Edward G. Robinson to win the audience over as he struggles to shed light on the insurance fraud and murder.
This script should be studied by anyone who plans to write for TV or movies. Note the significant changes Wilder and Chandler made from James Cain's original novel - changes Cain admitted were improvements.
Especially worthy of mention is the level of artistry displayed in the final minutes when, after an hour and a half of of bitter nastiness, Wilder gives us just the smallest spoonful of sugar that wraps everything up perfectly. There's almost something criminal when evil is such a treat to watch.
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