• Trust Weighted Perfect
  • 66 Trust Points

On Demand

Netflix On Demand

Amazon Instant Video On Demand

$2.99 Rental

iTunes On Demand

Rent from $3.99


Tag Tree


Wick's Review

Created Jun 09, 2013 09:03AM PST • Edited Jul 21, 2015 10:19AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Want to hear what perfect dialog sounds like? Listen to Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity. Credit Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and director Billy Wilder, three legendary writers who didn’t get along but nonetheless birthed “the paradigmatic film noir.”1

    A perfect movie needs more than a perfect screenplay. Double Indemnity also boasts a perfect cast, with Edward G. Robinson joining MacMurray and Stanwyck. Plus, it set “the conventions for the noir genre, such as ‘venetian blind’ lighting and voice-over narration.”2

    Most importantly, a perfect movie needs to work as well today as in the bygone era in which it was made. Double Indemnity qualifies. Sure, it’s merely titillating where today it would be erotic, fierce where today it would be brutal and salty where today it would be profane. But it’s brilliantly crafted, engagingly plotted and visually arresting in the noir style it came to define.

    Along with the perfect dialogue and cast, those three virtues give it a five-fold set of qualities that together add up to a veritable Quintuple Indemnity.

    No wonder it’s #38 on AFI’s list of the 100 Best Movies. Serious movie fans not only must see it, but are sure to be terrifically entertained by it.

    1 Wikipedia on Double Indemnity

    2 Wikipedia on Billy Wilder

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Fred MacMurray was best known for comedy, but he looks and sounds like a 1940s Don Draper in Double Indemnity. More importantly, he’s entirely believable as a morally flexible opportunist who falls for a vixen’s vague promises. His deep voice suffuses the movie with just the right note of certainty and regret. Good thing, since it’s his voice-over that fills the airtime when he’s not directly on screen.

    Barbara Stanwyck was the biggest female star in Hollywood in 1944, yet had always been the heroine prior to playing the murderous wife in Double Indemnity. BTW, I hated her hair and now come to learn that Billy Wilder wanted her in that bad blonde wig so she’d look as sleazy as possible. It worked.

    Edward G. Robinson had been a leading star prior to Double Indemnity, making him a particularly powerful third-wheel behind MacMurray and Stanwyck. The role of cynical claims adjuster came naturally to the famous tough guy. Brilliant casting!

    And how about pretty young Jean Heather, who played the murdered man’s daughter. Heather was named “Canteen Dream Girl of the Northwest” early in WWII by the Marine, Navy, Army and Coast Guard camps in her native Washington state. She made her movie debut in Double Indemnity and was out of pictures before the Fifties began. (Source: IMDb)

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Perfect 5.0

    Some critical raves stand above others. Alfred Hitchcock himself wrote Billy Wilder that “Since Double Indemnity, the two most important words in motion pictures are ‘Billy’ and ‘Wilder.’”1

    The story of an insurance salesman drawn into a murder is told largely in flashback and via voice-over. Thus we know from the beginning that the murderous couple come to a bad end. Why else would he record the details of their crime together. Still, learning about the tangled web that closes in on its creators makes for a juicy and terrifically entertaining film.

    It helps that both conspirators are rotten, she a little more rotten than him, maybe even a lot more rotten.

    1 Wikipedia on Double Indemnity’s Critical Reception

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Much of the story is told via voice-over, which is even better than the direct dialog. Wow.

  11. Music Perfect 5.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Southern California never looks so gloomy as in a film noir. Still, the Spanish Revival house where the rich wife lives, the classic office building in downtown L.A., the hill above the Hollywood Bowl – all show SoCal at its midcentury best.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.1

    Double Indemnity was made during the pre-Ratings days, when the Hayes Production Code drastically limited the edginess that could go into a movie. Thus a story about an adulterous relationship that leads to murder is ridiculously undersexed. MacMurray’s character doesn’t even get a blowjob out of it. What a sap.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.8
  16. Violence Fierce 2.1
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.5
  18. Glib 1.5

    Ruth Snyder persuaded her married lover to help murder her husband, in whose name she’d taken out a double indemnity insurance policy. Quickly arrested following the crime, Snyder was executed at Sing-Sing. A famous picture of her in the electric chair was published the next day in the New York Daily News.

    Fifteen years later, James M. Cain adapted the story into a novel he titled Double Indemnity. Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler did major surgery on Cain’s story and especially his dialog to create their masterpiece of a film noir movie the following year. (Source: Wikipedia)

    As Paul Harvey would say: Now you know the rest of the story!

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.8
  20. Biological Glib 1.6
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


Subscribe to Double Indemnity 0 replies, 0 voices
No comments as yet.