For this month’s final review for Genre Grandeur – Film Noir Movies, here’s a review of Double Indemnity (1946) by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies
Thanks again to Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies for choosing this month’s genre.
In case you missed any of this month’s reviews, here’s a recap:
- Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – SG
- Brick (2007) – Damien
- Chinatown (1974) – Rob
- Memento (2000) – Darren
- The Killing (1956) – Rob
- Double Indemnity (1944) – Ghezal
In addition, I watched and reviewed 5 movies for my companion series Genre Guesstimation. Surprisingly, three of them will now be considered among my favorites of the genre.
- *Sunset Boulevard (1950)
- Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)
- *Blood Simple. (1984)
- * The Big Sleep (1946)
- Cold in July (2014)
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Gavin of Mini Media Reviews and he has chosen the genre of Revenge Movies.
Films in which a person or persons are wronged in some way and exact an, hopefully disproportionate, amount of revenge or retribution!
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Aug by sending them to Gavinsrevenge@movierob.net
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Gavin!
Let’s see what Ghezal thought of this movie:
Double Indemnity (1944)
Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall and Jean Heather.
Director: Billy Wilder (The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment)
When it comes to which film genre gets me giddy with excitement and unknowingly causes me to nervously chomp down on my nails, film noir is king. From the sheer amount of dapper that exudes from Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon) and the classic noir we attribute most in the ‘40s and ‘50s to the noir of the contemporary age, the genre continues to produce some of the most enthralling pictures in cinematic history.
Billy Wilder’s 1944 adaptation of the novella Double Indemnity not only manages to include every component of what noir is, it elevates these respective components to a point where it’s arguably the best example of what film noir is. The story follows Fred MacMurray’s Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who finds himself immediately seduced by the allure of Barbara Stanwyck’s Phyllis Dietrichson, a mesmerizing housewife who wants her husband dead and utilizes Neff’s devotion to his occupation to achieve this sinister goal. The chemistry between MacMurray and Stanwyck – who simply radiates unbelievable talent with her standout performance as Phyllis – sizzles from the moment he first sees her at the top of the stairs.
While MacMurray’s performance is fantastic and spectacularly noir, he still manages to place third when up against Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson’s fast-talking/ridiculously sharp Barton Keyes whose sole purpose as a claims adjuster is to foil phony claims. The constant feeling of unease throughout the film remains until the final credits roll which is a major testament to the direction by Wilder. The excitement felt in a lesser film would’ve gradually fizzled out by the time SPOILER the murder occurs on the train. END SPOILER. The flawless performances by the main trio (Stanwyck especially) and Wilder’s ability to portray Neff’s sense of dread with every person that turns the corner is wildly (sorry) invigorating.
The sharp dialogue is another aspect of Double Indemnity that makes it as rewatchable to me as it is. With every line uttered by Phyllis, Neff has a quick retort and vice versa. Despite her phony outward appearance most commonly associated with the character, she still manages to intoxicate Neff simply with her aura and “that anklet.” The simplest idea of a film noir is one that emphasizes cynical attitudes and sexual motivations featured in a Hollywood crime drama. Double Indemnity doesn’t shy away from discussing murder for money nor does it at the notion of a woman selfishly thinking of her own pleasures regardless of the sacrificing of her marriage. During an instance toward the beginning of the film, Phyllis and Neff’s rescheduling of an appointment should be as straight forward as his (presumably) concealed erection yet it is oddly sensuous. The moment the husband is brought up following a metaphorical pull over, all sense of fantasy is whittled away courtesy of the reminder of reality which illustrates the cynicism deliciously fraught in the film. Check out the clip below:
I could genuinely go on about Double Indemnity for ages. During my final year of university in my Filming Literature class, we discussed the film and its novella counterpart which reinvigorated my love for this flawless picture. Any fan of noir or well-written stories must check out Double Indemnity if the opportunity arises, best to do it before you realize you can’t hear your footsteps anymore.
I’d like to give the biggest thanks to MovieRob for allowing me to pick this month’s Genre Grandeur and I look forward to reading the submissions from all my fellow noir fanatics. Check out my various twitter ramblings at @MrsBananaPhone and my own site, https://ghezalplusmovies.com/ J