Double Indemnity (1944) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: 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. Runtime: 107 mins Release Date: 23 Apr 1944
One of the best films noir ever, Double Indemnity communicates with amazing effectiveness the depths of depravity, greed, lust, and betrayal of the seemingly innocent and beautiful. (by Anonymous_Maxine)
This is one of the best films of all time, not necessarily because of its story but because of the acting, direction, cinematography, lighting, and just the way that the story itself was told. At the time the film was released, the idea of revealing who the killer was in the opening scene was virtually unheard of, but it ended up being very effective because it allowed the audience to concentrate more on other elements of the film, which was the goal of Billy Wilder, the director. Instead of trying to figure out who the perpetrator was, there is more emphasis on how the crime was pulled off, <more>
what mistakes were made during the murder, who betrayed who, how close Barton Keyes the insurance investigator was getting to solving the case, and, probably most importantly, what kind of person Walter Neff is and whether or not sympathy should be felt toward him. Barbara Stanwyck, in one of the most remembered performances of her extensive career, represents with nearly flawless ease the cold and ruthless manipulator who has no difficulty in ruining other people's lives in various ways including death, if necessary in order to get what she wants. Known in the film community as the `femme fatale,' this is someone who uses her sexual prowess, seductiveness, and emotional detachment to drag an unsuspecting person generally an interested man into a scheme from which she is expected to benefit heavily and he is most likely headed for destruction. In these types of films, the man often either finds his life in ruins or ends up dead, as is often but not always also the case with the fate of the femme fatale. Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, the murderous femme fatale in Double Indemnity and Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, her victim' , have amazing chemistry on screen. Their attraction is incredibly well portrayed, and the development of their relationship with each other is so convincing that what happens between them almost seems normal. Besides that, their mutually calculated interaction, although it seems at first like it has been rehearsed endlessly and ultimately brought unconvincingly to the screen, is exactly as it was meant to be, because it represents each character's intentions, even very subtly foreshadowing their future betrayals against each other. Phyllis has gone through every word she ever says to Walter in her head. She has practiced what she wants to say when she brings up the idea of life insurance to Walter in the beginning and she knows what she wants to say whenever they interact with each other because she has been planning for quite some time the prospect of murdering her husband in order to collect his fortune. Walter, conversely, methodically makes amorous advances as though this is something that he does regularly, and then ultimately he also plans out his conversations with Phyllis because he begins to suspect her and is sure to tell her only what he wants her to hear. This seemingly stiff dialogue brilliantly represents Phyllis and Walter's precise and sinister intentions, and it's quick pace creates a feeling of urgency and restlessness.Probably the most fascinating and entertaining actor in the film, Edward G. Robinson, plays Barton Keyes, Walter's friend and employer at the insurance company where he works. Keyes is a very suspicious man who closely investigates the insurance claims which come into the company, having a striking history of accurately isolating fraudulent claims and throwing them out. His handling of Phyllis's and Walter's, technically claim and the way that he gets closer and closer to the truth create a great atmosphere of tension and drama. Double Indemnity is nearly flawless. From the shocking and unexpected beginning to the already known but still surprising end, the audience is held rapt by the excellent performances, the brilliant and imaginative direction, and the flawlessly created atmosphere. This is excellent, excellent filmmaking, and is a classic film that should not be missed.
Justifiably At The Top Of Most Film Noir Lists (by ccthemovieman-1)
This is one of the best-liked classic films of all time and I am among that large group of fans as well.Few movies have ever had dialog this entertaining.....at least the conversations between Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. I think it's a big appeal to this movie, except to younger folks who look at it as "cheesy."I read the book, Double Indemnity written by James Cain, and was surprised that the film's snappy dialog was not in it. This is one of the rare times when the movie was far better than the book. That's not a shock after you find out that literary giant <more>
Raymond Chandler and Hall Of Fame director Billy Wilder combined to write the screenplay,For a murder/suspense story, there is very little action, almost none, yet there are no boring lulls. The three main actors - Stanwyck, MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson, are what make this so good.MacMurray's narration is fun to hear as he tells the story in flashback, from the beginning by dictating into an old Dictaphone to his co-worker Robinson. The latter is almost mesmerizing in his performance, the way he delivers his lines. He can even make a speech about something as boring as insurance and still keep you riveted to the screen.Stanwyck was no sex symbol at least to me but she looked great here in the most seductive of 1940s clothing and, like Robinson, has a distinctive voice and accent that keeps your attention.This film was the inspiration for the 1980 movie, "Body Heat," starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. That, too, was a very, very good movie....but not many films are in the class of this one.
Double Indemnity is based on a novel by James Cain adapted to the screen by great novelist Raymond Chandler, who made here his most important contribution to the cinema history in his career, though somehow matched by following screenwriting work for 1946 Howard Hawks' classic The Big Sleep, and Billy Wilder, who previously worked as a screen writer for Ernest Lubitsch and had been already nominated three times for Academy Awards in the process before making Double Indemnity, which nevertheless played the key role in establishing him as one of the best writer-directors in Hollywood, and <more>
giving him his fourth Oscar nomination as a writer and his first one as a director.Double Indemnity was the third feature Wilder directed after 1942 The Major and the Minor and 1943 Five Graves to Cairo, but it was definitely the first film, his primary American tragedy where the author for the first time revealed his black and somehow hopelessly pessimistic view of the American society and of the human society in general, blackishly desecrated in the film simply by populating it with exceptionally sordid characters, who independently of being a victim or victimized, of being the protagonists or just simple supporters are never really able to transcend the utterly low and devilish motivations in theirs as a consequence sordidly painful lives and reach such a state where the viewer might get relieved by considering one of them as a positive element. Instead the characters' lives shown in a continuous noir flashback of Fred MacMurray's not-a-confession are driven from the start to the very end by an utter greed in a form of double and not only indemnities with consequential and inherent to it risks and fears in a rather unsure world of insurance.An insurance salesman Walter Neff Fred MacMurray , a man with `no visible scars', starts to lose his already shaky dominance over his mind's yearnings when glimpses on a horizon a possibility of becoming a recipient of a monetary fortune along with no less seductive desire from a part of unhappily married and as devilishly beautiful as resourceful in pursuing her zany in its deadliness schemes, an ultimate femme fatale blond Phyllis marvellously portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck .Initially apparent as a romantic, the relationship gradually mutates into double confrontation of the two fears of the two characters in their greedy and ambitious pursuits, a conflict which at one point apparently results in a sort of humanization of Phyllis' character, appearing hiding the eyes of her soul behind the sun glasses, a humanization which is let to happen by her only to accentuate later her unchangeably fatal nature.The double confrontation gradually evolves into a triple one when the threatening presence on the scene of no less and probably more resourceful character of Barton Keyes Edward G. Robinson becomes more and more evident, as a result of his continuous and obsessive investigation conducted with different but nor less ambitious motives. A motives which find its ultimate revelation in a most touching, but finally most hypocritical scene of declaration of love I love you - I love you too between Walter Neff and Barton Keyes in the end, exactly reflecting the same nature of previous interactions between Walter and Phyllis, where such moments with the very words used, such as the supreme word of loving affection - Baby lowered to an unthinkable extent, only were a mere preparation to struck another blow in yet another outburst of hate caused by a new misfortunate complication in carrying out so well devised and apparently perfect plan. Permeated right from the start to the very end with the flavour of unstoppable fatality in an extent that a few other film-noirs achieved, accentuated by the wonderful music score by Miklos Rozsa, Double Indemnity's story is motored by the money like in nearly all of Billy Wilder films. But in this case all the misery produced by it as evident as never before resulting in utter corruption of already corrupted characters and their descent into a such a deep abyss of human misery as probably never before or after in a Hollywood film history, an abyss with no exit, with omnipresent hypocrisy, with no place for sincere human feelings of love, friendship or affection, an abyss to where the characters descent under the monotonous tune of Miklos Rozsa's score, which serves as a reflection of their monotonously hypocrite and ultimately doubly doomed lives. 10/10
I've now seen this movie 14 times in 25 years, at all times of the year, in all moods, sober or not etc - but always at night. I recorded my copy off TV in 1987 so I can only imagine what a remaster would do for it. With an atmosphere thick enough to cut with a knife it never fails to engross and enchant me, and although it's been dated for 40 years or more still seems relevant and watchable today. TV, answer phones, recordable CD/DVD, memory sticks and the internet have all come between us and yet I can still watch Fred MacMurray speaking into a Dictaphone without a qualm. Who wears <more>
a hat in California nowadays? Who buys beer whilst driving! Lift attendants have gone but I can still believe in Charlie working and laughing away in the garage past 11 at night.Woman and man agree to murder woman's husband but on the way to the cemetery they face grilling by insurance company. I think everything has been said before on the IMDb - by those who think it's one of the best films ever made! To those who simply think the main problem is that it's dated I wish you could see the TV commercials that dug into DI back in '87 - what a hoot - and compare. I've just noticed the print TCM UK is showing in 2005 is lip-synced out, very wobbly Rosza music track, fading and ageing fast - worse than my 1987 video tape maybe logically . They're supposed to be encouraging people to enjoy the classics but they won't do that with such inferior screening copies. Dear TCM UK, this is an impressive iconic film - it deserves a billion dollar remaster authorised by the Library of Congress, not repeatedly trotting out unimpressive cheap worn dupes to fill those 2 hour slots.Everything about DI from the acting, production, direction, and music is superbly dignified and is as "close to perfection" as human beings are probably allowed to get with this form of Art - especially with the more limited technology at their disposal in '44. When most films from now are long forgotten and dated DI will still be getting re-runs on TV and art-house cinemas - God and remasters willing - that is the fact of it.Fortunia Bonanova certainly was fortunate to have appeared in bit parts in 2 of the best films ever made - Citizen Kane the other.
This film is great fun. Sxity years later, it's as taut and engaging and beautiful as any contemporary story.It simmers, it sizzles, the tension between Neff and Dietrichson is positively palpable. But, as the tension between Neff and Dietrichson fizzles, the tension between Neff and Keyes heats up.It's as pure a sample of classic film noir as there is, and it does it with unparalleled style.This is what movie-making is all about. It's not a labrynth of characters and trick endings and gimmicks. In fact, the movie starts with our tragic hero admitting he's the who <more>
whodunit...what are we left with?The story of how and why he dunit, of how he was intoxicated and bewitched, yet came to his senses, not soon enough to save him legally, but at least to come to terms with his own failure.
If you are a noir fan then this film is an absolute must see. The screenplay itself is a work of art in its charater construction, plot structure and dialogue which is delievered by an ensemble of first class actors divying up first class performances. Barbra Stanwyck as the deadly, smouldering, scheming Phyllis Dietrichson turns in a performance that is right up there with Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Fred McMurray delievers a performance of a smart but desperately lovelorn patsy and Edward G. Robinson is perfect in the role of Barton Keyes and just about steals the moment <more>
every time he appears on screen.I personally love a good Noir film and this is right up there with the best of them. Billy Wilder should be proud of this work eventhough the Academy didn't see it fit to reward him for his efforts, however I personally think this film is an absolute winner.
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 <more>
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.
A film noir masterpiece that received no less than seven Oscar nominations (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
There were some superb thrillers coming out of Hollywood in the forties which did not rely on the private eye conventions but somehow the best of them were spread throughout by the same cynicism, the same realism, the same ruthless suspense Best of all was Wilder's "Double Identity." It was based on a real-life assassination in New York in 1927, when a wife and her lover killed the husband for his insurance money In the film, a near-breaking-point tension was reached and sustained in the passion of an insurance salesman and a passionately sensual femme fatale an <more>
intense desire for each other and for money; in the murder of the poor husband; and in their useless attempts to escape the ability of a fast-talking investigator
From the first time he sees that ankle bracelet, Walter Neff Fred MacMurray is a doomed man. As Phyllis Dietrichson Barbara Stanwyck descends her California home's spiral staircase, we are as enraptured as Neff. And it takes little time to figure out that being enraptured by this femme fatale is a very dangerous position to find oneself in. Is it accidental that the bracelet is worn around her ankle, as opposed to the more traditional wrist? Is it accidental that the sunlight streaming through the windows cast shadows not unlike bars across the living room? I suspect it's about as <more>
accidental as Mr. Dietrichson Tom Powers eventually ending up dead along the railroad tracks. We must remember that Billy Wilder is doing more than evoking noir here, he's inventing it. And how brave he is! Beginning the film by all but divulging the ending is hardly the route most directors choose to go when directing a thriller. But as he's well aware, the audience doesn't care half as much about where they end up as they do about the thrill of the ride it takes to get them there. The structure of the film is familiar to anyone who has seen "Body Heat," or any other knockoff. "Double Indemnity" is the original however, and it's intricate plot revels in its complexities nearly as much as Walter and Phyllis do in their convoluted plot to dispose of an unwanted husband. The audience learns only a minimum about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Dietrichson, but we easily surmise that their union was not out of love. If the marriage was one of convenience, than the murder certainly is. It seems unlikely Phyllis is after the freedom to continue her heady tryst with Walter, and even the money provided by the double indemnity clause of Mr. Dietrichson's life insurance policy seems more like a bonus than a motivation. In other words, Phyllis just wants her husband dead. And Neff obliges. Several times while watching "Double Indemnity," I felt my pulse physically quicken. These scenes were most notably the ones in which it looked as though Walter and Phyllis' trolley car had finally reached the end of its line, and discovery of their crime was inevitable. The scene where Phyllis is forced to hide behind a door, knowing that incrimination awaits if the person on the other side sees her, is unrelenting in its suspense. After all, we want this reprehensible act to go off without a hitch every bit as much as they do. That is the sign of a good film. It also stands to reason, seeing as how we were there when the elaborate scheme was being plotted. That makes us accessories. And if they get caught, God help us, so do we.