Sunday, March 11, 2012

Double Indemnity (1944)

Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) pays a visit to a client who's car insurance is about to expire. The Mr. Dietrichson isn't home but Wally likes what he sees with the Mrs. (Barbara Stanwyck). Eventually the Mrs. floats the idea of life insurance, in case anything unfortunate happens to the Mr. Of course the Mr. mustn't ever found out he bought it. Well, Walter smells a rat. And he likes what he smells. Together they plan how the insurance gets bought and how accidents can happen.

The fly in the ointment is Walter's boss, the savvy Mr. Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). You see, he has a "little man" that tells him something is fishy. Apparently Keyes' "little man" is a bit smarter than Neff's.

Excellent acting, great dialog, engaging story, Double Indemnity earned it's reputation as a great film. IMdb ranks it 55th all time (currently) and in the genre of film-noir it's third. I put a rush on watching it because Starz was making a hasty exit from the land of netflix, and while I enjoyed the movie, I can't say I love it up to it's reputation. I'll give it a 4.

So, what's the buzz about the movie? Apparently director Billy Wilder and co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler hated each other. Wilder would later say he flaunted his "womanizing ability" to torment the closeted Chandler. Wilder also had Stanwyck wear an ugly blond wig to give her a cheap, fake look. Later a studio exec remarked "We hired Barbara Stanwyck, and here we get George Washington".
"How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?"

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