Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is the quintessential film noir, exhibiting all the qualities of that classic genre in their most heightened and visceral form: the beautiful high-contrast, shadow-soaked, black-and-white cinematography; the twisting, sexy/violent plot, risqué for its time; the high tension, edge-of-your-seat score; and the snappy, rapid-fire dialogue—some of the best that's ever been written for the screen. McMurray and Stanwyck aren't exactly sex symbols by today's standards, but they had no trouble ramping up the heat back in 1944 with their terrific performances.

The only problem I have with this film is that I don't understand how the police could have ever mistaken the cause of death as accidental. I believe one method of killing is implied (strangulation in the car), while the cops attribute the victim's demise to another lethal cause entirely (broken neck on the railroad tracks). This may have been prior to the widespread establishment of scientific crime labs, but certain methods of murder leave pretty obvious marks that wouldn't likely go overlooked. It really sticks out like a sore thumb because the rest of the movie is so well thought out, from its intricate plot to the emotional reactions of the characters. It's an odd anomaly in an otherwise nearly perfect movie.

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