Double Indemnity (1944) / Drama-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated but probably PG for some violence
Running Time: 107 min.
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather, Tom Powers
Director: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler (adapted from the book, "Double Indemnity in Three of a Kind" by James M. Cain)
Review published September 11, 1998
Is an introduction really necessary for one of the greatest noir films ever created? Even after the plot has been hashed and rehashed by countless other films in the last 60+ years, Double Indemnity is still an undeniably great film.
The story opens with a hotshot insurance salesman named Walter (MacMurray, The Apartment) out to renew an auto insurance claim with a wealthy oil driller (Powers, The Blue Dahlia). The man isn't home but his sexy wife Phyllis (Stanwyck, The Lady Eve) is. The attraction proves too hard to resist, as Walter aids Phyllis in concocting a plan to off the husband and collect his insurance money. The best part is that his life insurance claim contains a clause whereby they will get double the money if he should die on a train. The plan's all set, but will they go through with it, and if so, will they get away with it?
Double Indemnity is absolute must-see entertainment for all who love classic Hollywood thrillers, and makes a great introduction to film noir for those unfamiliar with the genre. The cast is at its best, with Edward G. Robinson (The Ten Commandments, Key Largo) in outstanding form as MacMurray's skeptical boss who can spot a phony claim by gut instinct alone. Billy Wilder's (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Blvd.) script is masterfully written and his direction near flawless. Great writing, great acting, great direction, great plot -- if only all movies could be like this!
©1998 Vince Leo