Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), naive insurance man. Falls for the seductive charms of his beautiful client Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) Together they plot to get rid of her dull husband and collect on the "double indemnity" life policy.
Insurance salesman Walter Neff (played by Fred MacMurray) has an affair with customer's attractive, murderous wife (Phyllis Dietrichson, played by Barbara Stanwyck). Together they plan to kill hubby and claim the insurance money – but suspicious claims investigator (Barton Keyes, played by Edward G. Robinson) smells a rat, and the unlucky Walter ends up with no woman, no money – and indeed, dead.
The three main characters are all well cast – the woman attractive and deadly, the salesman good looking, fast talking and slightly oily, the investigator rumpled, world weary and cynical. A superb film with excellent plot, excellent dialogue, excellent acting. 5/5 stars. Highly recommended.
The DVD is rated at PG, the Blu-Ray is 5 minutes longer and is 15 rated. I am intrigued as to whether the edited 5 minutes are the reason for the difference. There is some indifferent kissing and possibly the most benign death by shooting I have ever seen in the Blu-ray version. Not really 15 stuff. The reason for heavy censoring in my opinion is the cruelly mercenary motivation of Phyllis Dietrichson brilliantly played by Barbara Stanwyck. The moral code of a praying mantis. I would not show any child this attitude to life for fear of lessons learned. This 1944 black and white American drama will not be to many people's taste. I am not at all surprised however that the previous reviews have been gushing. If this is a genre for you it is a truly classic film.
Brilliant Film Noir.
- Double Indemnity review by Steve Mason
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If Film Noir is an American crime story with European aesthetics. Double Indemnity has pretty auspicious credentials, with its James M. Cain story, and great dialogue by Raymond Chandler; directed by Berlin's UFA studios graduate, Billy Wilder, beginning a run of success maybe unparalleled in film history.
It is not only the very best Film Noir, but the most archetypal. All genre elements are here: the witty, pessimistic dialogue; the angel-of-death femme fatale; the weak natured hero caught in the grip of an implacable destiny; the shadows and the neon soaked streets.
There is a genuinely diseased heart to this film that remains a little horrifying. A sordid, corrupt sexuality perhaps enhanced by its brilliant, but unglamorous stars. Everyman Fred MacMurray, and Barbara Stanwyck in a cheap blonde wig. And Edward G. Robinson's most memorable role as the insurance investigator.