Double Indemnity

AFI Rank: #38
Year Released: 1944
Director: Billy Wilder
Actors: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck

Double Indemnity I adore film noir movies, and this one is definitely a classic. Based on the novel by James M. McCain, it features not only a live triangle but a love quadrangle. Phyllis Dietrichson is a beautiful blonde dame who talks insurance agent Walter Neff into helping her murder her husband. Walter falls for her the minute he sees her, and she knows he'll have the expertise to pull it off properly.

Soon, though, he's feeling guilty as he hears from the orphaned child that this stepmother was also responsible for the mother's death as well. And then there are twists and turns, emotions and intrigues, as the house of cards tumbles around them all.

The dialogue is amazingly fast and snappy. How did people think up lines like this as quickly as they did? It must have been an art form. The filming is gorgeous, with the costumes bringing the scenes to life. I was actively trying to figure out what happened, finding what I thought were holes and then seeing them neatly filled in. So many modern movies and TV shows are incredibly sloppy, making clear mistakes in logic. This ties everything together in a neat package.

This movie is over 50 years old now and it still is just as powerful as when it was filmed. We loved watching it, and I highly recommend it.

Male vs Female Actors
The Insurance man plays strongly against the main female lead - she is just as powerful in her manipulation of him. A good match-up!

The Bechdel Test
The mom and stepdaughter talk about Chinese Checkers! It's fairly trivial, but where so many movies completely fail, at least this one does pass :)

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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100