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This film came out in 1944, the same year David O. Selznick released Since You Went Away (1944). Part of the campaign for the latter film were major ads that declared, "'Since You Went Away' are the four most important words in movies since 'Gone With the Wind'!" which Selznick had also produced. Wilder hated the ads and decided to counter by personally buying his own trade paper ads which read, "'Double Indemnity' are the two most important words in movies since 'Broken Blossoms'!" referring to the 1919 'D.W. Griffith' classic. Selznick was not amused and even considered legal action against Wilder. Alfred Hitchcock (who had his own rocky relationship with Selznick) took out his own ads which read, "The two most important words in movies today are 'Billy Wilder'!"
NevilleThe "third act" is precisely where a pretty ordinary crime, with a broken leg in the way in more senses than one, turns and twists into a noir triple-crosser.
Respect for Billy Wilder ...
tcfariaFred MacMurray's character was great! The dialogues were outstanding, the plot was very well conceived, the directing was very very good (std Wilder). Very close to a perfect movie in my book.
ReVisionGreat classic, and with a perfect ending.
HillJackBobThis movie truly is a masterpiece.
asiangotriceGreat film! Have to admit that the wedding ring on Walter's hand really annoyed me. Was certain they'd explain it and then learned after watching the film, that it was a mistake left in.
MarkE89Admittedly, upon first viewing I was instantly smitten with this film. It became a favorite of mine and further elevated my high regard of Billy Wilder. And it does have everything to offer a burgeoning film geek; a classic film noir of universal acclaim but snubbed of 7 Oscars by the damn Academy; snappy dialog, like "You ought to have some of that pink wine to go with it. The kind that bubbles. All I got is bourbon"; and an intricate plan gone to pieces because of the fiendish femme fatale.
Unfortunately, for the first time since this initial crush, I rewatched it yesterday and was quite disappointed. Most of the lines seem unnecessarily intricate, the plot is weak and the motivations are unbelievable.
The film is still absolutely beautiful, and a prime example of the sparse film noir mise-en-scene, Wilder’s framing is excellent and Edward G. Robinson is enthralling as always. Nevertheless, almost everything else now feels dated and outright silly. Most plot points would never be accepted by today’s audiences, and I suspect, were unconvincing even back then. Of course, by 1940s standards we’re used to the kind of straight-forward, superficial love propelled by the script. We love seeing Bogart seduce a lonely book-keeper with nothing but appropriately delivered quips and hip flasks. We’ll even gladly accept any improbable romance between Alan Ladd and the gorgeous Veronica Lake. And yet, the first flirting (ie esoteric insinuations) between MacMurray and Stanwyck comes off stiff and bookish. The exchange stretches beyond belief too soon in spite of the obvious charm and dynamic it would present on paper.
Regrettably, the romance continues unashamedly so, with one too many “baby” thrown in and convictions thrown out. The entire set-up becomes preposterous as a result and we never believe the supposedly underlying romantic motivations. Further, the plan itself becomes questionable as Neff’s initial professional considerations concerning the evidence are completely disregarded in terms of an autopsy and his fingerprints. What we suspected to be a brilliantly executed plan proves to be rather flawed and, essentially, half-assed. It doesn’t even unfold like this in a usual noir, chaotic, structural kind of way, the laziness of the script just suddenly dawns on you.
Next, the plot unduly thickens with Nino, a guy we can neither know nor care about, primarily based on his introductory lines of exposition; “I don’t have any friends! And if I did, I like to choose them myself,” whatever that means, coupled with the mischievous notion that he’s seemingly going after both step-mom and daughter. The big reveal comes with his involvement which proves to be negligible, to say the least, but could still end up saving the day for Neff. However, the sudden, inexplicable bloodlust of our main characters ruin the moment and along with it, Nino’s chance to become a fall guy.
Neff is then forced to use his remaining strength to stumble back into his boss’ office and recount the story in two hours’ worth of details – presumably on numerous tapes.
Mainly, because of reasons.
Finally, the film ends on a forced cathartic note of Keyes lighting a match for the burned out Neff. An action which offers little other symbolic value.
All things considered, it’s still an entertaining film and a recommended viewing for anyone interested in the film noir canon. However, this is primarily an extension of its pulpy B-film roots with little grace to offer people who don't buy into a story of a 3-hour-romance leading to double homicide and overthrowing lifelong ideals. It would be a shame to rank it as a masterpiece alongside The Killing, or Wilder’s own Witness For The Prosecution - which, depending on your expectations, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I had just convinced myself to expect a little more.
akuma587Loves me some Billy Wilder.
SiskoidDouble Indemnity has such a reputation, I was sure it was one of Hitchcock's. But Billy Wilder isn't exactly the B-team. One of Film Noir's best known accomplishments, the film concerns an insurance scam that hinges on committing the perfect murder. It all seems to work out well enough for the malefactors played by Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, until Edward G. Robinson's Columbo-like claims investigator (particularly great) starts getting a feeling in the pit of his stomach. From there, panic sets in and our leads are going to start making mistakes, potentially fatal ones, in stark contrast to how precise their original plan was. As the niggling details start to mount, so does the tension and the mistrust. Goes to show you can do perfect Noir without putting a private eye at the center of it. Who knew the world of insurance could be this exciting, or attract its share of femme fatales?
kellileeFilm noir at its finest. The dialogue is fantastic and clearly defines the genre.
DieguitoCrime - Murder - Mystery - Money - Hot Blond! Genial!
psdantonioI think Raymond Chandler had more to do with the dialogue than Wilder, take a look at some of his books and you'll see what I mean.
coral_ckWilder is just so good at dialogue, this movie was so great!
RohitWell said, grit
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