Posted by Jaya Ramdath on September 24, 2011 at 12:10 am
Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman, Walter Neff, and Barbara Stanwyck as an unhappy housewife, Phyllis Dietrichson. Together, they come up with a plan to buy her husband insurance, without his knowledge, and then murder him to get the insurance money. Neff is very careful because his job has given him enough experience to know how to avoid getting the money in a suspicious manner. Their plan works to a certain degree, until Neff learns that Phyllis is not in love with him as much as he is with her. Complicating things even more, Mr. Dietrichson’s daughter, Lola, has now lost both of her parents (Phyllis is her stepmother). Neff, driven by guilt and a broken heart, heads over to his office to make a confession.
Double Indemnity is a classic American film noir, but did not win any of the Academy Awards it was nominated for (Best Sound, Best Actress, Best Music Score, Best Writing). It was, however, selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1992 by the U.S. Library of Congress, and ranked #38 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century.
I highly recommend this film for anyone in love with the noir genre, or if you’ve never seen a film noir before, this would be a good one to start with. In film making today, voice over narration is avoided at all costs, and is usually an absolute “no-no,” but I’ll admit that I love the mood it creates. You can’t find that in many other places other than the film noir genre. Double Indemnity is indeed a thriller, but because of the narration, it goes at its own speed.