DOUBLE INDEMNITY

(1944)
With Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall, Jean Heather
Directed by Billy Wilder
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Hey, no planning murders on company time, see?    Film noir is regarded as a genre (if it can be called a genre, but that's an argument for another time) that flourished during the post-World War II era, but several earlier films indicate that the seeds of noir were planted and beginning to sprout during the war years.  THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942), and LAURA (1944) were early examples of films that could have fit right in with the pessimistic crime potboilers of the late '40s and '50s.  Among the best-known and most highly regarded of such films from this early period is Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY, which, along with THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1948), contained the most prototypical of noir plotlines: that of a young and nubile wife, married to an infirm or elderly (i.e., impotent) husband, who plots with her lover to kill the husband and collect insurance money or an inheritance.

     The story has been recycled, with variations, several times, but it was never told more effectively than in DOUBLE INDEMNITY.  Fred MacMurray, always at his best when playing creeps and scoundrels, is the poor sap smitten with lust for spider woman Barbara Stanwyck; Edward G. Robinson is MacMurray's boss, a crack insurance investigator who figures things out, but who stands by and lets tragic fate run its course.  All three leads deliver some of the best performances of their careers. 5 - JL

Film Noir    Edward G. Robinson     Billy Wilder     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


REMAKE

Double Indemnity (1973) (TV)

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