107 Min. | Crime – Drama – Film-Noir | December 1944
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Billy Wilder
Staring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Double Indemnity Review: There are occasional times when all the elements come together to make a great film that will stand the passing of time. “Double Indemnity” seems to be an example of this phenomenon. First, there was a great novel by one of America’s best mystery writers, James Cain, who created these characters that seem will live forever in our imagination. Then, the lucky break in getting the right man to direct it, Billy Wilder, a man who knew about how to make a classic out of the material that he adapted with great care and elegance with Raymond Chandler, a man who knew about the genre.
“Double Indemnity” works because it’s a story we can relate to. There is a greedy woman trapped in a bad marriage, who sees the opportunity when she encounters an insurance agent who is instantly smitten with her and who has only sex in his mind. The manipulator, Phyllis Dietrichson, doesn’t need much to see how Walter desires her. His idea of having her husband sign an insurance policy he knows nothing about, thinking he is doing something else, will prove a fatal flaw in judgment.
In Double Indemnity, the supporting cast is excellent. Porter Hall, Jean Heather, Tom Powers, Richard Gaines, Fortunio Buonanova and John Philliber are perfect. The music score of Miklos Rosza gives Double Indemnity a texture and a dimension that capitalizes on the action it intends to enhance. Also the music of Cesar Franck and Franz Schubert contribute to the atmosphere of the movie. The great cinematography of John Seitz, who will go on to direct films, is another asset in the movie. Edith Head’s costumes are absolutely what a woman like Phyllis would wear right down to her ankle bracelet. Double Indemnity shows a great man at his best: Billy Wilder!
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