Double Indemnity

Overview

Directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from a James M. Cain novel by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, Double Indemnity represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman amidst the dark shadows and Expressionist lighting of modern cities. Phyllis Dietrichson Barbara Stanwyck seduces insurance agent Walter Neff Fred MacMurray into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the ...
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Overview

Directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from a James M. Cain novel by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, Double Indemnity represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman amidst the dark shadows and Expressionist lighting of modern cities. Phyllis Dietrichson Barbara Stanwyck seduces insurance agent Walter Neff Fred MacMurray into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the couple's passion cools, each becomes suspicious of the other's motives. The plan is further complicated when Neff's boss Barton Keyes Edward G. Robinson, a brilliant insurance investigator, takes over the investigation. Told in flashbacks from Neff's perspective, the film moves with ruthless determinism as each character meets what seems to be a preordained fate. Movie veterans Stanwyck, MacMurray, and Robinson give some of their best performances, and Wilder's cynical sensibility finds a perfect match in the story's unsentimental perspective, heightened by John Seitz's hard-edged cinematography. Double Indemnity ranks with the classics of mainstream Hollywood movie-making.
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Special Features

Introduction by Turner Classic Movies host and film historian Robert Osborne; Shadows of suspense: plunge into the world of 1940s Hollywood with a revealing look at a movie masterpiece; Feature commentary with film historian Richard Schickel; Feature commentary with film historian/screenwriter Lem Dobbs and film historian Nick Redman; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Greed, lust, and actuarial tables -- matched with a drum-tight script, terrific performances, and perfect direction -- add up to a classic L. A. film noir that remains as scintillating today as it was in 1944. Directed by the great Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman who falls for the wife Barbara Stanwyck of one of his clients and becomes entangled in a scheme to bump off her husband. MacMurray may play an insurance salesman, but the dialogue is pure hard-boiled detective, all innuendo and double-entendre, with snappy come-ons and comebacks. It’s no wonder -- the script was based on a novella by James M. Cain and co-written by the godfather of American crime fiction, Raymond Chandler. Sporting a beautifully florid, confessional voice-over worthy of Philip Marlowe himself, the masterfully constructed narrative unfolds entirely in flashback -- a storytelling technique Wilder would reprise to great effect in Sunset Boulevard. The lead actors are unforgettable: MacMurray smug and confident from the get-go, Stanwyck subtly seductive and manipulative. Anchoring the proceedings is the legendary Edward G. Robinson in one of his best performances. Perfectly cast as MacMurray’s boss and father figure, he plays a brusque, cigar-smoking claims manager, with a big heart underneath it all, who ends up unraveling the perfect crime. This is genre filmmaking at its finest, and a definitive noir.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Billy Wilder only made one proper film noir, but it was a doozy: Double Indemnity is one of the most unrelentingly cynical films the genre produced, with a pair of career-changing performances from Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and a script by Wilder and Raymond Chandler every bit as black-hearted as James M. Cain's novel Three of a Kind, on which the film was based. The idiosyncratically attractive Stanwyck, generally thought of as pretty but hardly a bombshell, was rarely as sexy as she was as Phyllis Dietrichson, and never as sleazy; Phyllis knows how to use her allure to twist men around her little finger, and from the moment Walter Neff lays eyes on her, he's taken a sharp turn down the Wrong Path, as Phyllis oozes erotic attraction at its least wholesome. While MacMurray was best known as a "nice guy" leading man (an image that stuck with him to the end of his career), he was capable of much more, and he gave perhaps the finest performance of his life as Walter Neff, a sharp-talking wise guy who loses himself to weak, murderous corruption when he finds his Achilles Heel in the brassy blonde Phyllis. (MacMurray's only role that rivalled it was as the heartless Mr. Sheldrake in The Apartment, also directed by Wilder.) And, while they followed the Hays Code to the letter, Wilder and Chandler packed this story with seething sexual tension; Neff's morbid fascination with Phyllis's ankle bracelet is as brazenly fetishistic as 1940s filmmaking got. Double Indemnity was not a film designed to make evil seem attractive -- but it's sure a lot of fun to watch.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/28/2012
  • UPC: 025192143311
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Slip Sleeve / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:48:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 1,107

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fred MacMurray Walter Neff
Barbara Stanwyck Phyllis Dietrichson
Edward G. Robinson Barton Keyes
Porter Hall Mr. Jackson
Jean Heather Lola Dietrichson
Tom Powers Mr. Dietrichson
Byron Barr Nino Zachette
Richard Gaines Mr. Norton
Fortunio Bonanova Sam Gorlopis
John Philliber Joe Pete
Al Bridge Execution Chamber Guard
Kernan Cripps Redcap, Conductor
Miriam Franklin Keyes' Secretary
Sam Gorlopis Fortunio Bonanova
Edward Hearn Warden's Secretary
Boyd Irwin First Doctor
George Melford Second Doctor
Teala Loring Pacific All-Risk Telephone Operator (uncredited)
Lee Shumway Door Guard
Bess Flowers Norton's Secretary
Oscar Smith Pullman Porter
Betty Farrington Nettie, the Maid
Constance Purdy Woman
Dick Rush Pullman Conductor
Edmund Cobb Train Conductor
Floyd Shackelford Pullman Porter
Sam McDaniel Garage Attendant, Charlie
Clarence Muse Black Man
George Magrill Man
Judith Gibson Pacific All-Risk Telephone Operator
James Adamson Pullman Porter
Douglas Spencer Lou Schwartz
Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director, Screenwriter
Raymond Chandler Screenwriter
Stanley Cooley Sound/Sound Designer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Bertram Granger Set Decoration/Design
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Walter Oberst Sound/Sound Designer
Hal Pereira Art Director
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Joseph Sistrom Producer
Wally Westmore Makeup
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Double Indemnity
1. Main Titles [1:30]
2. Office Memorandum [5:43]
3. Fully Covered [5:19]
4. The Little Man [4:21]
5. Sour Taste [5:52]
6. Straight Down the Line [10:10]
7. Duplicate Application [4:18]
8. Accidentally on Purpose [5:06]
9. Desk Work [5:17]
10. Extra Careful [3:52]
11. The End of the Line [8:37]
12. Carrying the Ball [4:58]
13. A Troubling Hunch [3:29]
14. Awful Feeling [5:07]
15. Familiar Face [4:11]
16. Sticking Together [5:39]
17. Getting off the Trolley [7:06]
18. All Washed Up [11:42]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Double Indemnity
   Play
   Scenes
   Bonus Features
      Introduction by Robert Osborne
      Shadows of Suspense
      Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel: On
      Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel: Off
      Audio Commentary with Film Historian/Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman: On
      Audio Commentary with Film Historian/Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman: Off
      Original Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Language
         English
         Español
         Audio Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel
         Audio Commentary with Film Historian/Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman
      Subtitles
         English SDH
         Español
         Français
         Subtitles: Off
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2001

    The ultimate in film noir!

    Fred MacMurray stars as a smooth talking insurance salesman and pretty Barbara Stanwyck as an unflappable femme fatale. They form an attraction to one another, and before you know it murder for money and steamy romance begin to rear their ugly heads. Film also stars Edward G. Robinson as a no nonsense claims manager. With terrific performances, beautiful California scenery and sharp, memorable dialogue, this is one film you have to see!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2001

    A Classic Film Noir From Start To Finish

    Double Indemnity is one of Billy Wilder's best films. It is a classic film noir and it contains all the trimmings to make it what it is. As in most other films in the film noir genre, it contained dark nights, spooky shadows, and an eerie plot to match. Billy Wilder did an excellent job making this film one of my favorites full of dark, spooky, and eerie film with a plot full of suspense. The story begins with a failing salesman named Walter Neff who is giving a confession of a ¿perfect crime¿ which he committed, trying to finish before his boss and friend, Barton Keyes, shows up to hear it. It all began when Mr. Neff was sent to a Mr. Dietrichson¿s house to discuss his car insurance policy. He finds that when he arrives Mr. Dietrichson isn¿t present, and the only one who is present is the wife, Phyllis Dietrichson, who Walter finds very attractive. They begin discussing the lapse of car insurance payments when Phyllis brings up the she wants to get accidental insurance for her husband without him knowing. Walter finds this a little odd that she doesn¿t want her husband to know, and ends his involvement in the discussion. Walter always wanted to cheat the system, and he believes that involvement with Phyllis is his only chance. He visits he again, and soon they have a growing relationship. They then begin planning the murder of Mr. Dietrichson to appear suicidal so that they can get the insurance money and run off together. Knowing that his boss my figure it out he tries his best to pull it off. In the end he finds out that Phyllis was just using him and others to get money and what she wanted. She attempts to kill him, but he kills her first and then goes back to his office dying to leave his story for his boss on the Dictaphone. I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone who loves to sit and watch movies especially if they like movies with crimes, murder, a plot full of suspense and drama, and even love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2001

    The Best Film Noir of the Forties

    Writer John M. Cain's story of lust, greed, and murder is brought to life in the film Double Indemnity. Director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) along with writer Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) brings Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson into a great film noir. Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman. He falls in love with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwych). Mrs. Dietrichson is trapped in a loveless marriage and wants her husband, Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers) killed off so she can claim the insurance money. This wonderful plot in Double Indemnity has many twists and turns in it. There are so many obstacles for Walter Neff and Phyllis Dietrichson to overcome. They have to time everything just right and this keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are so many moments in the film where you think the whole scheme is about to collapse. Neff and Dietrichson are such witty characters that they seem to have the right thing to say or do at the right time. Until the end of the story there never seems to be a crack in the plan. Neff is even surprised how good the plan is working out. After they have committed the murder, Lola Dietrichson, (Jean Heather) Mr. Dietrichson¿s daughter, becomes attached to Neff. At the very end of the movie Neff finds out what Phyllis Dietrichson¿s real plan is and tried to put a stop to it. You will have to watch the movie to find out how they both end up. I highly recommend this movie for people of all ages. The film really kept me on the edge of my seat the entire second half. I cannot think of any other film noir made in the nineteen forties with such a good story line. This is one film noir you can¿t miss.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2001

    A must see Noir

    Double indemnity is a Film Noir classic. Director Billy Wilder gives the film the classic Noir look, with dark shadows and a twisted murder plot. Whether it¿s the darkness of a house or a poorly lit street the scenes are given an attitude by the lighting that Wilder chose. Walter Neff, played by Fred MacMurray is pushed in the middle of a femme fatales unscrupulous scheme. Neff an insurance salesman is coaxed into a murder/fraud scheme by a beautiful woman. Neff gets lured into this plot of deceit because of an anklet that the femme fatale, Phyllis Dietrichson played by Barbara Stanwyck, wears throughout the film. Stanwyck¿s performance is superb, she plays a cold-blooded woman with a mindset of taking what she believes belongs to her. Dietrichson is nonchalant, and methodical when it comes to her femme fatale characteristics. Neff and Dietrichson tend to light up the dark scenes with their lustful looks towards each other. Lola, Phyllis¿ stepdaughter, on the other hand is the complete opposite of the femme fatale. Jean Heather playing Lola does an excellent job of selling her character as an innocent and meek teenager wary of her stepmother¿s actions. Edward G. Robinson plays Barton Keyes an insurance investigator with a ¿little man¿ that gives him clues to the status of a claim. Keyes is like a father figure to Neff and they spend much time together as Keyes throws his ideas of what happened around. This was a great film going to great lengths to please the viewer. This Film not only leans towards the serious side but also has some comic relief mainly in the use of the word baby, and the endless search for one mans matches. A great work of art Double Indemnity should be on everyone¿s list of movies to see soon. It will not only keep you wrapped up but also will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next plot twist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2001

    Lust, Greed, and Evil

    Writer John M. Cain's story of lust, greed, and murder is brought to life in the film Double Indemnity. Director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) along with writer Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye) bring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson into a great film noir. Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman. He falls in love with Phyllis Dietrichson (Barabara Stanwych). Mrs. Dietrichson is trapped in a loveless marriage and wants her husband, Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers) killed off so she can claim the insurance money. As you can see, this film has a twisted plot and can not be missed. I give this marvelous film five stars.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews