Instant View: Double Indemnity

Hello there,

I  love watching Turner Classic Movies.  There is something about those old black and whites that has always enthralled me.  The romances were sweeter, the betrayals more bitter… When we got  married and moved to NJ,  we got cable, but not TCM. How was I going to get my old movie fix? The answer: Netflix. Netflix has tons of old movies on instant view, and I figured I would share my favorites that are currently available for viewing.

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite examples of Film Noir: Billy Wilder’s 1944 classic, Double Indemnity. While Double Indemnity is an earlier example of the Noir genre, no one questions its Noir credentials because it has all of the essential characteristics of a Noir film: Murder, betrayal, a (dynamite) femme fatale, a anti-hero with feet of clay, dark visuals and a black hopelessness that tells the viewers, “This isn’t going to end well.”

One of my favorite things about Double Indemnity is the unholy alliance that is formed between Walter Neff (the said, anti-hero with feet of clay), and Phyllis Dietrichson, played by the brilliant Barbara Stanwyck.

Never was there such a fantastically diabolical femme fatale.  Walter Neff, played by Fred MacMurray, was just your average insurance salesman until the day he met Phyllis.  To see her was to want her, and to have her, her husband had to be taken out of the picture…but only after taking out a sizable insurance policy on him.

Phyllis uses her sex-appeal to seduce and manipulate Walter, until his life falls apart.

The clever use of voice-over narration gives the viewer the sense of Walters’ helplessness is this whole business.  He has a choice to make, and is a free man, but the voice-over, Walter looking back on his past, would suggest a feeling inevitability: this is going to happen. I have to have her- at any cost.

Turns out, the cost is his soul… And that ladies and gentlemen, is Film Noir. See this movie, and tell me what you think.

I hope you like it! Tune in next Wednesday for Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night.