Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity ★★★★★

A Best Picture nominee from Ebert's Great Movies

Man, the dialogue absolutely crackles here. Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler wrote this blistering thriller about an insurance salesman who attempts to scam his own company by getting involved in the murder of a client's husband.

Exchanges like this are music to my ears:

Neff: "You know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes? I'll tell you. Because the guy you were looking for was too close -- right across the desk from you.” 
Keyes: "Closer than that, Walter."
Neff: "I love you, too.”

Walter Neff (the great Fred MacMurray) has compelling dynamics with two key characters -- his boss and friend, Keyes (Edward G Robinson, a showstopper), as showcased above, and his client-cum-criminal partner-cum-lover (a shrewdly sultry Barbara Stanwyck). Neff is weak; he's neither a criminal nor a hero. Just a poor schlub who makes some stupid decisions. Watching him crumble as Keyes pieces everything together is a thrilling exercise in tension and dread. Robinson is an absolute pleasure here; I haven't seen much of his work before but I look forward to changing that.

Double Indemnity is a timeless piece of work and operates with the precision of a Swiss watch. I'm sorry it took so long to discover this. But hey, better late than never.

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