Double Indemnity (Masters of Cinema) Blu-ray
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Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced in 1944
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
The style and structure of Double Indemnity is now so iconic it could serve as a template for anything noir. The set-up presents the classic noir equation: fast-talking wiseacre meets blonde bombshell and helps rub out rich husband. But the film is so slickly directed and acted it transcends the limitations of its genre, and its dialogue crackles like sticks on a bonfire.
Fred MacMurray is an insurance salesman lured into Barbara Stanwyck’s ploy to collect on her husband's accidental death policy. Although initially reluctant to get involved with murder, MacMurray is so excited by their first innuendo-laden exchange he is soon in over his head. But characters like these are just too jaded to fall in love: MacMurray may look wholesome, but his essence is murky; Stanwyck’s heart is made up of dark matter. From the outset, their eyes are dancing only with lust and avarice.
We know straight away that things don’t quite go to plan, but Wilder keeps up the tension by having Edward G. Robinson's ebullient claims manager work out the details under MacMurray’s guilty nose. Robinson has some of the film’s best speeches and delivers them with fiery precision; his lecture about a claims man being a “doctor and a bloodhound and a cop and a judge and a jury and a father confessor all in one” is bracing stuff – and a far cry from your average Direct Line office pep talk.
But like the elegant visuals and Miklos Rozsa’s rousing score, the soliloquies and voiceovers and romantic asides never intrude on the plot. Instead, Double Indemnity unfolds without an inch of slack – it's so taut you could bounce a coin off it. And only Billy Wilder could wring this much joy from such a dark view of the human soul.
Julian Upton on 7th June 2005
Author of 150 reviews
The archetypal film noir, Double Indemnity sees Barbara Stanwyck play the femme fatale in this tale of an insurance agent conniving with a beautiful client to kill her husband. Adapted from James M. Cain's novel by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler, this is simply one of the best with script, acting, lighting and cinematography all working together to present an unforgettable atmosphere. Its seven Oscar nominations catapulted Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment) into the very top tier of Hollywood's writer-directors.
Insurance hawker Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) gets seduced by another man's wife: a bored, sex-starved Barbara Stanwyck done up in lorry-grille wig and a pair of lips like wine grapes smashed in candle-wax. She wants to off her better half and collect on his policy, but spitfire claims-adjuster Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) smells a rat – or at least the cheap perfume all over that Dietrichson file.
Nominated for seven Oscars at the 1945 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Actress (Barbara Stanwyck), Best Screenplay (Wilder and Raymond Chandler), Best Cinematography (John F. Seitz), Best Score (Miklós Rózsa), Best Sound Recording (Loren Ryder).
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 107 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1 OAR
Cat No: EKA70071
Format: Blu-ray B&W
Subtitles: , Hard of Hearing - English
- Exclusive new high-definition restoration, officially licensed from Universal Pictures
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
- Shadows of Suspense — a 2006 documentary featuring film historians, directors, and authors discussing the making of Double Indemnity
- Audio commentary by film historian Nick Redman and screenwriter Lem Dobbs
- 1945 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of Double Indemnity, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray
- The original theatrical trailer
- 36 page booklet featuring an interview by John Allyn with Billy Wilder, an extract from a 1976 interview with James M. Cain comparing his original serial with Wilder’s film adaptation, documentation of novelist and Double Indemnity co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler’s attitude toward working within the Hollywood studio system and an extract from the original screenplay depicting the excised 'death chamber' ending.
by Anon on 24th September 2007
A high watermark in Hollywood Noir. Double Indemnity has everything - brooding, atmospheric scenes bathed in chiaroscuro lighting, dazzlingly witty dialogue and possib... Read on
A high watermark in Hollywood Noir. Double Indemnity has everything - brooding, atmospheric scenes bathed in chiaroscuro lighting, dazzlingly witty dialogue and possibly the most memorable femme fatale in the dark history of film noir.
Almost unsettlingly, the sexual charge suffusing the film is so powerful and intense you can almost feel tremors coming from the screen. It goes a long way in explaining why Walter Neff, a reasonably contented, law-abiding insurance-salesman suddenly finds himself agreeing to commit murder. One look at the beautiful, lonely housewife slinking down the staircase in a bathrobe and eye-popping anklet and Walter's reason finds itself giving way to simmering, unbridled passion in the same way daylight turns to darkness.
In the midst of all this overheated passion there is only way in which presence of an unwanted husband will be resolved.
From that point on, as one charachter puts it, "they're stuck with each on a one-way trolley ride with no stops until the end when they reach the cemetery."
by Barry Forshaw on 16th April 2007
Review of Murder My Sweet and Double Indemnity.
Raymond Chandler always felt that the best screen version of his tough, wisecracking private eye Philip Marlowe was... Read on
Review of Murder My Sweet and Double Indemnity.
Raymond Chandler always felt that the best screen version of his tough, wisecracking private eye Philip Marlowe was Dick Powell in this wonderful version of Chandler’s novel Farewell My Lovely, something that surprises those who know the Humphrey Bogart incarnation in Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep. But it's true that (as Chandler perceived) Powell looks like a man who can play chess as well as pack a gun, and is a more intelligent Marlowe. In the same package, Billy Wilder's classic Double Indemnity needs absolutely no recommendation, while a very cherishable batch from Universal also includes such Robert Mitchum gems as The Big Steal, directed by Don Siegel (a minor piece, but one to be seen). Hide
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