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Encyclopedia > Double Indemnity (film)
Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity movie poster
Directed by Billy Wilder
Jack Gage (dialogue director)
Produced by Buddy G. DeSylva
Joseph Sistrom
Written by Novella:
James M. Cain
Screenplay:
Billy Wilder
Raymond Chandler
Narrated by Fred MacMurray
Starring Fred MacMurray
Barbara Stanwyck
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Victor Schertzinger
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) September 6, 1944
Running time 107 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $927,262
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir. It stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. The movie was adapted by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler from the novella of the same title by James M. Cain that first appeared in 1935 as an abridged 8-part serial in Liberty Magazine. It was directed by Wilder. The story was based on a 1927 crime perpetrated by a married Queens woman and her lover. Ruth (Brown) Snyder persuaded her boyfriend Judd Gray to kill her husband Albert, after having her spouse take out a big insurance policy—with a double-indemnity clause. The murderers were quickly identified and arrested. 1 Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (400x619, 71 KB)original movie poster source:www. ... Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-born, Jewish-American journalist, screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. ... Jack Gage was an American film and television director. ... Buddy Gard DeSylva, often credited as Buddy De Sylva, Buddy DeSylva, Bud De Sylva and B.G. DeSylva (January 27, 1895 - July 11, 1950), He was born George Gard DeSylva in New York, New York, USA, but grew up in California and attended the University of Southern California DeSylvas... James Mallahan Cain (July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977) was an American journalist and novelist. ... Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-born, Jewish-American journalist, screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. ... For other persons named Raymond Chandler, see Raymond Chandler (disambiguation). ... Fred MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an actor who appeared in over one hundred movies and a highly successful television series during a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. ... Fred MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an actor who appeared in over one hundred movies and a highly successful television series during a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. ... Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress of film, stage, and screen . ... Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Miklós Rózsa (IPA: ) or Miklos Rozsa (April 18, 1907 - July 27, 1995) was a Hungarian-born composer, best known for his film scores, most notably the score to the 1959 epic Ben-Hur. ... Victor L. Schertzinger (April 8, 1890 - October 26, 1941) was an American composer, film director, film producer and screenwriter. ... John F. Seitz (June 23, 1892 – February 27, 1979) was an American cinematographer. ... Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American motion picture production and distribution company, based in Hollywood, California. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... // July 20 - Since You Went Away is released. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... “USD” redirects here. ... // July 20 - Since You Went Away is released. ... This still from The Big Combo (1955) demonstrates the visual style of film noir at its most extreme. ... Fred MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an actor who appeared in over one hundred movies and a highly successful television series during a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. ... Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress of film, stage, and screen . ... Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Billy Wilder (June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-born, Jewish-American journalist, screenwriter, film director, and producer whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. ... For other persons named Raymond Chandler, see Raymond Chandler (disambiguation). ... James Mallahan Cain (July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977) was an American journalist and novelist. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar). ... The term serial refers to the intrinsic property of a series —namely its order. ... Liberty was a general-interest weekly magazine, published in the United States between 1924 and 1950. ... Year 1927 (MCMXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Ruth Snyder Execution Ruth Snyder (1895 – January 12, 1928) was executed for the murder of her husband, Albert Snyder. ...


Other films inspired by the Snyder-Gray murder include The Postman Always Rings Twice and Body Heat. Both Postman and Double Indemnity were remade, with Double Indemnity being a "made-for-TV" movie in 1973. The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1946 film based on the 1934 novel by James M. Cain. ... Body Heat is a 1981 neo-noir film written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. ... In film, a remake is a newer version of a previously released film or a newer version of the source (play, novel, story, etc. ...

Contents

Characters

The main characters include:

Fred MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an actor who appeared in over one hundred movies and a highly successful television series during a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. ... Insurance, in law and economics, is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss. ... Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress of film, stage, and screen . ... Phyllis Dietrichson is the fictional major female character in the 1944 film Double Indemnity. ... Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Claims adjuster is a term used to describe someone who evaluates the damage caused to property or people when an insurance related accident occurs. ...

Plot

The film tells the story of an insurance salesman (MacMurray) who finds himself entwined in a plot to kill a woman's husband. A tenacious investigator (Robinson) thinks it's foul play and may suspect his co-worker and the recently widowed femme fatale. The title of the film is a reference to a frequently-found provision in many life insurance policies in which an amount twice the amount that would normally be paid to the beneficiary becomes payable in the event of the accidental death of the insured. An alternate ending was shot for the film (to appease censors) featuring killer MacMurray going to the gas chamber. This footage is lost but stills of the scene still exist. Convicted spy Mata Hari made her name synonymous with femme fatale during WWI. A femme fatale (plural: femmes fatales) is an alluring and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. ... Life insurance or life assurance is a contract between the policy owner and the insurer, where the insurer agrees to pay a sum of money upon the occurrence of the policy owners death. ... A railing accidentally collapses at a college football game, spilling fans onto the sidelines An accident is something going wrong unexpectedly. ...


Critical response

Today, the film is considered a classic. Film critic Roger Ebert in his review of the film praises director Wilder and cinematographer Seitz: "The photography by John F. Seitz helped develop the noir style of sharp-edged shadows and shots, strange angles and lonely Edward Hopper settings."[1] A review of the film in the New York Times September 7, 1944 was not entirely positive. Reviewer Bosley Crowther found Edward G. Robinson's supporting role excellent but also stated "Such folks as delight in murder stories for their academic elegance alone should find this one steadily diverting, despite its monotonous pace and length. Indeed, the fans of James M. Cain's tough fiction might gloat over it with gleaming joy." Roger Joseph Ebert (born June 18, 1942) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic. ... A Cameraman-Reporter during a MINUSTAH mission in 2007 (Photo: Patrick-André Perron A cinematographer is one photographing with a motion picture camera (the art and science of which is known as cinematography). ... John F. Seitz (June 23, 1892 – February 27, 1979) was an American cinematographer. ... Nighthawks. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ... Bosley Crowther (July 13, 1905 – March 7, 1981) was an American film critic. ...


Elements of film noir

Stanwyck and MacMurray in Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity is an excellent example of a genre of films called film noir. Its plot and style contains almost all the elements that make up classic film noir: Image File history File links Double_indemnity_screenshot_8. ... Image File history File links Double_indemnity_screenshot_8. ... A genre [], (French: kind or sort from Greek: γένος (genos)) is a loose set of criteria for a category of literary composition; the term is also used for any other form of art or utterance. ... This still from The Big Combo (1955) demonstrates the visual style of film noir at its most extreme. ... Look up plot in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

  • Characters commit brutal, vengeful, and often psychopathic acts of violence.
  • The plot is about how a crime is committed and the story is told from the point of view of the criminal. In the case of Double Indemnity, the plot is literally told by the criminal. The entire plot (except the very first scenes and the very last scenes) is told in flashback by Walter Neff, who commits murder and very nearly gets away with it.
  • Double Indemnity, like many other films noir, takes a naturalistic view of human nature. This is due in part to the flashback structure of the film. As everything in Double Indemnity described by Neff into the dictating machine clearly happened in the past, and there is no way in the present or future to alter events that occurred in the past, it is evident that the events leading up to the eventual execution of Neff were inevitable and were due mostly to Neff's nature as a weak-willed man in the hands of a femme fatale.
  • Themes illustrating how sexuality and psychology are interwoven emerge.
  • Moody lighting including Venetian blind effects on the walls and on characters' faces in some scenes look like bars on a jail and make the characters of Double Indemnity seem as though they are trapped by their human weaknesses and doomed to failure. The cinematographic compositions and the art direction are particularly claustrophobic as well. Characters are often backed into a corner where mobility is impossible (such as in cars or telephone booths).

In literature and storytelling, a point of view is the related experience of the narrator — not that of the author. ... In TV and movies a scene is a part of the action in a single location. ... In literature and film, a flashback (also called analepsis) takes the narrative back in time from the point the story has reached, to recount events that happened before and give the back-story. ... Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that do not distinguish the supernatural (including strange entities like non-natural values, and universals as they are commonly conceived) from nature. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In literature, a theme is a broad idea in a story, or a message or lesson conveyed by a work. ... Venetian blind detail, showing how slats are connected Cat tangled in miniblinds A window blind is a covering for a window, usually attached to the interior side of a window. ...

Trivia

  • Fred MacMurray, a bachelor in the film, is always seen wearing a wedding ring. This was not noticed until post-production when it was too late to change.
  • Judd Gray, the man on whom MacMurray's Neff character was loosely based, stated while confessing, after he had killed Albert Snyder, “When I walked I listened for my step – no sound seemed to follow.” In the film Neff says, “I couldn’t hear my footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.”
  • The character Walter Neff was originally to be named Walter Ness. However, there really was a Beverly Hills insurance salesman named Walter Ness at the time. To avoid being sued for defamation of character, the name was changed to Walter Neff.[citation needed]
  • The scene in which Phyllis hides behind an apartment door in the hallway would be an impossible situation. Apartment doors are not allowed to open into the hallway because it would be a potential fire hazard and building codes, even at the time the film takes place in 1938, strictly prohibited it.
  • The two commentary tracks on the 60th anniversary edition DVD make no mention of a Beverly Hills insurance salesman named Walter Ness. The name of the insurance salesman in the James M. Cain novel is Walter Huff. The screenwriters changed this as they felt that name was too comical. Similarly, the name of Phyllis Dietrichson in the novel was Nerdlinger.
  • In Wilder's 1951 film Ace in the Hole, a character identifies himself as a salesman for Pacific All-Risk Insurance.
  • In the first half of the film, the plotters make repeated references to death by hanging in the state death house. Later on, Walter Neff repeatedly refers to the California gas chamber.
  • In his first scene with the scheming wife, Neff is seen leaving her house with his hat on. In the next meeting between the two, the wife tells Neff that she has come to return his hat.
  • Both the director and the cinematrographer were big fans of the painter Edward Hopper and were clearly influenced by Hopper's use of shadow and isolation in his works. Raymond Chandler once remarked upon Wilder's admiration for Hopper and his efforts to introduce similar themes into his films. Billy Wilder is believed to be the anonymous benefactor who donated Hoppers to LA area museums.
  • Edward G. Robinson prized his reputation for professionalism and strong preparation. He reportedly did the tour de force scene where he puts the pompous insurance company president in his place while reciting lengthy actuarial tables ver batim in one take to the astonishment of everyone on the set including the actor playing the executive who is captured on film with his mouth agape.
  • For years, new employees who began work in the accident and life insurance policy sections at Mutual of Omaha were required to view DOUBLE INDEMNITY and write and essay on what they had learned.

Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Ace in the Hole is a 1951 film starring Kirk Douglas, directed by Billy Wilder and released by Paramount Pictures. ... Nighthawks. ...

Awards

Double Indemnity was listed at number 38 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American films of all time and at number 29 on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the list. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with AFIs 100 Years. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with AFIs 100 Years. ...


It was nominated for Academy Awards for Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ...

This film received no Academy Awards.
The Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is one of the awards given to actresses working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; nominations are made by Academy members who are actors and actresses. ... Charles Rosher the first recipient in 1928 The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is awarded each year to a cinematographer for his work in one particular motion picture. ... The Academy Award for Directing is one of the awards given to directors working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. ... The Academy Award for Original Music Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer. ... // The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is one of the Academy Awards, awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which are voted on by others within the industry. ... The Academy Award for Sound Mixing is an Academy Award that recognizes the finest or most aesthetic sound mixing or recording, and is generally awarded to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers of the winning film. ... The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. ...


The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ...


Quotes

Walter (MacMurray): It was a hot afternoon, and I can still remember the smell of honeysuckle all along that street. How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle? Maybe you would have known, Keyes, the minute she mentioned accident insurance, but I didn't. I felt like a million.


The following quote was one of 400 nominated quotes in the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes list of the best film quotes in American film history: This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Phyllis (Stanwyck): There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. 45 miles an hour.
Walter: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I'd say around 90.
Walter: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter: Suppose it doesn't take.
Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.
Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.
Walter: That tears it...


Keyes (Robinson) to the company president whom he has just humiliated after being chastized by the same earlier in the scene for not having his suit coat on: "Next time I'll rent a tuxedo". I know right


See also

// Actuaries in Film Double Indemnity (1944) a Billy Wilder film , with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, was possibly the first to feature an actuary. ...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Double Indemnity (film)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Double Indemnity

Note 1: Ruth Snyder's story [2] Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ... Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a cable television channel featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. ...


 
 

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