Monday, February 15, 2016

AFI Top 100, #38: "Double Indemnity" (1944)

Movie Stats:
Released 1944 (UK)
American, in English
Director - Billy Wilder
Stars - Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Plot Summary:
When insurance salesman Walter Neff (MacMurray) meets unhappy housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck), he quickly becomes embroiled in a murder plot. Robinson co-stars as Walter’s boss, Barton Keyes.


Bad Stuff:
I found MacMurray’s acting to be a bit stiff.

Once it got to the inevitable “everything falls apart” portion, it went on too long. I got a little bored.

Good Stuff:
Loved Robinson’s performance. I thought he was incredibly dynamic. He really brought Barton Keyes to life.

I enjoyed the story. Even though I had a pretty good idea where it was going (in particular, what the twist was), watching it get there was interesting. The murder plot was clever. I liked how Walter was so desperately lonely (without realizing it) that he let himself get drawn into something he really shouldn’t have gotten into.

My favorite thing about film noir is how dark and moody it is. This one does such a great job of setting the tone from start to finish.

The Verdict:
I thought it was pretty good. I didn’t know anything about it going in. I’d heard of it before, but until I picked it up from the library, I didn’t know who starred in it, and I didn’t know the story until I started watching it. Once I realized it was about insurance, I have to admit I was skeptical. Fortunately, my skepticism was unwarranted. Other than the wooden MacMurray, the performances were really good, and the story was interesting. It’s the kind of film you should watch at least once, because everyone should have some film noir under their belt.

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

Remember when we watched that terrible film-noir-ish Black Dahlia movie? I think maybe we should have spent our time with this, especially as I have not seen it.

I keep meaning to have a Billy Wilder film fest.

balyien said...

There are so many movies that would have been a better use of our time than that Black Dahlia movie! Although, I think, whenever in doubt with film noir, choose "LA Confidential."