Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity ★★★★★

Double Indemnity is one of those movies that does something fantastic and new, and does it so right that its defining features get used from then on and watered down until someone like me - watching this film for the first time in 2019 - could perhaps interpret it as being predictable or overdone. But overdone is the exact opposite of what this film is, as so much of this had never yet been done in Hollywood.

Here our protagonists are both bad guys; immoral people, murderers! Stanwyck in particular felt reservation about playing a stone-cold killer, and MacMurray didn't think he had the acting chops. Both were well-paid and well-known actors at the time this film was made, and even if they didn't initially think Double Indemnity was the right move for them, they both certainly came around to that fact.

MacMurray does well as brusque Walter Neff, and plays it straight enough for Stanwyck to shine. I am of the opinion that Stanwyck's is the real standout performance here: sultry and extremely expressive, her body language and eyes speak volumes throughout.

Wilder collaborated with Raymond Chandler in creating this screenplay. The spicy banter and snappy dialogue between Neff and Phyllis is attributed more so to Chandler who convinced Wilder not to use so much dialogue straight from the source (James M. Cain's novella of the same title).

Double Indemnity has an upbeat pace, tremendous acting, some stellar moments ("Goodbye baby"), and really encapsulates film noir at its finest.

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