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94 Double Indemnity 1944 
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Post 94 Double Indemnity 1944
From Bob Harris on the Cinematic Journey

As I continue upon this journey, I am balancing between films I own and haven't seen and those in my Netflix queue. This is one I own and upon viewing it, I wish I had watched it a lot sooner. Then again that's the case for most of the films I'm watching as part of this thread.

Today I went back to Billy Wilder and Fred MacMurray in the film noir classic Double Indemnity. I was amazed at how well the language and interplay between MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck stood up. There have been a great number of attempts at American film noir including some more recent ones(most notable LA Confidential and Brick) and it is truly amazing how much those films owe to this masterpiece. MacMurray plays the straight man at first, an insurance man who is duped into murdering the cunning Stanwyck's husband. She sells him on love and he hatches the plan. Her greatest ploy is letting him believe it was his masterstroke the entire time. All the while she is also seeing the boyfriend of her stepdaughter and manipulating him as well. In this films, the dame always leads the man to his downfall. This is no different though is must be noted that MacMurray already had the plot hatched out in a fantasy well before he met the femme fatale. Also of note in this one is Edward G Robinson in an excellent supporting role. He is tough and old school throughout and yet he is even fooled by MacMurray only to be let down in the end as MacMurray dies in his arms when all hell broke loose in his scheme. Overall, I would consider this essential viewing for anyone interested in film and if this falls in at #91, I'm sure looking forward to 90 films supposedly better. 10/10


Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:47 am
Post Re: 94 Double Indemnity 1944
“Double Indemnity” (1944)

Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is an insurance salesman. When we first meet Neff, he’s got a bullet in his chest. He’s arrived at his office late at night and doing none too well, and has begun to record a final Dictaphone message to his boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). Here-on-out Neff acts as our narrator, as he tells Keyes and us the story of “the Dietrichson case”.
While on a visit to renew some auto policies he meets femme-fatale Phyllis Dietrichson who seems to be shopping for more than a good time. She is seeking ‘accident’ insurance for her uncaring husband, and also needs help arranging his accidental death. At first Neff is reluctant, but he later becomes smitten with Phyllis. Neff knows his boss Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) has a nose for detecting fraud, so he devises a plan to sell the policy and eliminate the husband. The husband will die in such a way that his policy will cover at twice its face value –a true double indemnity- while still appearing to be a complete accident. Who’s really the mastermind, who’s doing the playing, and for what end will startle and delight even the most savvy viewers.

This is startling movie-making. Billy Wilder has crafted a masterpiece. This film has forcefully and unexpectedly elbowed its way onto my top ten favorites list.

There are many levels on which Double took me unexpectedly:
Many of us grew up with “My Three Sons” in syndication. The father, Steve Douglas, of those three boys was played by none other than Fred MacMurray. In real life he was raised in Beaver Dam, WI, a town not terribly far from my home and a place where I’ve spent a lot of time. He also starred in one of my favorite aw-shucks old comedies “The Egg and I”.
In “Sons”, real life and “Egg” he seemed the gentle guy next door, well-groomed and wise, yet approachable. You could go to him to your shared fence for advice or to borrow a rake. Then, after the recommendations of many, I borrow and view “Double Indemnity” and my beloved Labrador, MacMurray, growls in a way I’ve not before seen. Stunning.
Barbara Stanwyck, the aging matriarch of “Green Valley” and playful tigress of “The Lady Eve” has shown chops in a most unexpected way as well. I really like her work, and now realize why she was gainfully employed for over 60 years.
Billy Wilder. What’s more to say? He’s created lightning in a bottle that still retains its jolt after 60 years. There’s a reason he’s one of Ebert’s favorite directors and is rapidly becoming mine.
If you are new to the old and looking for an outstanding example of mid-century noir films, “Double Indemnity” delivers twice the goods of most it’s competitors. I enthusiastically recommend a screening.

Awf Hand gives 4 of 4 stars.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:38 pm
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