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Double Indemnity

From the Moment they met it was Murder!
Double Indemnity
A rich woman and a calculating insurance agent plot to kill her unsuspecting husband after he signs a double indemnity policy. Against a backdrop of distinctly Californian settings, the partners in crime plan the perfect murder to collect the insurance, which pays double if the death is accidental.
Title Double Indemnity
Release Date 1944-04-24
Genres Crime Drama Mystery Thriller
Production Companies Paramount
Production Countries United States of America


It's definitely hard to pin down a personal favourite Wilder film, though I tend towards his earlier masterworks such as 'The Lost Weekend', 'Sunset Boulevard'...and THIS. He was one of the finest at getting straight through the bullshit and to the heart of all things noir (as the immortal Jean-Luc Godard stated, 'All I need to make a film is a man, a girl and a gun'). Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favourite actresses of the period, and is a classic 'femme fatale'. I've never been a huge fan of Fred MacMurray, but his 'nice guy' persona is used to sheer advantage by Wilder, and he end up both doing his finest work for Wilder (here and in 'The Apartment') and being the ultimate noir male protagonist. Interestingly, one of my favourite actors, Edward G. Robinson, thought so much of the script that he opted out of his demand of never doing a supporting role. Many people admire Wilder the director, but as a writer (or co-writer) he's just as cinematically important and influential. Like any other film of his, at least that I've had the pleasure to see, it's worth a purchase and re-watches. The dialogue, especially, is simply fantastic. I'd take just one of his early works over a hundred of the films Hollywood churns out nowadays. They're simply that better and intrinsically satisfying. Immortal cinema.
John Chard
A banner movie from film noir's classic era. Double Indemnity is directed by Billy Wilder and Wilder co-adapts the screenplay with Raymond Chandler from the novella written by James M. Cain. It stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. Music is by Miklos Rozsa and cinematography by John F. Seitz. For a film lover such as myself it feels redundant writing a review for Double Indemnity, because quite simply there's nothing to say that hasn't been said already. The esteem it is held in is justified, it's a razor sharp noir across the board and can be put up as one of the classic noir era pictures that got lovers of the form interested in the first place. Based around the infamous Snyder/Gray case of 1927, Wilder and Chandler fill the story with a sinister cynicism that is palpable in the extreme. With a script positively pumped with hard boiled dialogue, a simple case of murder becomes so much more, a labyrinth of devious cunning and foolishness, with a trio of top performances crowning this topper. Technically via aural and visual work the story gains extra spice. Rosza provides a score that frays the nerves, imbuing the sense of doom and edginess required for plotting. Seitz excels, the photography a trademark for noir, heavy shadows, abrupt camera angles and menacing shards of light come to the fore. And to top it all off, it gets away with so much, a real censorship baiter. The story takes a journey to the dark side of morality, and the makers, bless them for they know what they do, gleefully tease the production code to give film noir fans a reason to rejoice. Quintessential stuff. 10/10

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