Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity ★★★★★

As Fred MacMurray bowls through the LA night, gunshot wounded pumping blood, we’re right there with him – as he begins his slow confession in the empty offices of his insurance firm, the audience are as trapped as his Walter Neff is, unable to escape the inexorable yet terrifyingly real and sadly all too human plummet into darkness that the greats of genre cinema and literature have produced here.

Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler and James M Cain conjured up the archetypal noir, a tale so steeped in the cornerstones of the genre that when most think of the term ‘noir’ they think of this film – the stunning femme fatale that did for anklets what Psycho did for showers; the man seduced by her beauty yet with an inherent streak of darkness running through him she just awakened; and the plan……to take out an insurance policy on her husband, then kill him with a fool proof plan that even the most dogged and ruthless investigators will never be able to prove…..

Wilder shoots with shadows as dark as Stanwyck’s own heart, the inky visuals beautifully revealing only part of the story with each passing minute and as the lovers’ plan slowly starts to crumble and dissolve in front of their eyes and their true natures starts to be revealed, we’re left wondering which one of them is the real monster. Wilder’s trademark dialogue fizzes out of MacMurray, Stanwyck and Edward G Robinson’s mouths, that rat-a-tat delivery the perfect mechanism for the snappy lines and the fire and passion with which they’re dispensed make this, even by today’s standards, one of Hollywood’s greatest products.

Deliciously twisted and utterly indispensable, this stands as one of the bleakest and very best examples of film noir. Simply superb.

For more thoughts on the new UK blu-ray release of this and others from May's schedule, check out my article on AVForums here:

Block or Report

Mark liked these reviews