Wednesday, 11 May 2016

''Double Indemnity'' (1944 film)- Review

Directed by: Billy Wilder
Released: 1944
Country: United States

Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather

Genre: Film-noir, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


''Double Indemnity'' works in an atmospheric way and it works greatly. Here you have a voluptuous female lead and a male lead influenced by passion: two people it's hard to sympathize with, let alone admire. It is a film noir with a well-crafted screenplay and two powerful performances.

The entire film is shown in a flashback- the male protagonist, Walter Neff, an insurance salesman  played by Fred MacMurray- confesses about a murder that he has committed over a Dictaphone, planning to leave the confession for his colleague, Barton Kayes. He recounts how he first met Phyllis Dietrichson, played by Stanwyck. He had gone to visit Phyllis's husband, Tom, about some insurance related matters. However, Tom was not home, and he was welcomed by Phyllis, whose beauty and charm immediately impressed him. Phyllis told him that she wanted to start an accident policy for her husband- if her husband died by an accident, she would receive a sizeable amount of money. However, Neff was disgusted, thinking that Phyllis was trying to kill her husband for money. Phyllis did not deny it, and told Walter how she was being neglected and ignored by Tom, a man many years her senior. Smitten by Phyllis, Walter then decided to help her with the murder of Tom. And they did successfully accomplish the murder. However, back in the insurance office, Kayes was hesitating: he was sure that something was wrong with the case, that there was something fishy, and Kayes had set about to solve the case...

The atmosphere is definitely tense and thrilling. I loved ''Double Indemnity''. In the second half of the film, there is plenty of suspense as we start to observe Kayes' ingenious method of trying to figure the mystery out, as it would mean all the secrets and plans of Walter and Phyllis to be revealed. I don't know if I ever felt sympathy for Walter. If I did, I felt it at the very end of the film. As for Phyllis, oh well, I can't really comment on her character as that would mean revealing a lot. But nevertheless, here is a character it would be hard for anybody to forget, partly because of the character development and the climax, and partly because of Stanwyck's impeccable performance. So far, of the few Billy Wilder films that I have watched, all of them have managed to win my heart. This one was no exception.

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