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4.6 out of 5 stars
Double Indemnity [DVD] [1944]
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
I`ve been waiting for this classic to be released ever since i bought a dvd player! Billy wilder has to be one of cinema`s finest director`s ever,it`s hard to pick his best work what with sunset boulevard,some like it hot & ace in the hole (hopefully the next in line for a dvd release) among others but if someone put a gun to my head i`d have to say double indemnity.Being a big fan of old movies & in particular film noir this one is simply perfect,great script(co-scripted by Raymond chandler himself),superb acting from the three leads & great cinematography.If your into old movies & film noir trust me you need to see this,even if there are no extras.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2006
Along with Tourneur's OUT OF THE PAST (1947), Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY is the definitive film noir, a masterpiece that rewards countless viewings and proved hugely influential. Virtually remade as BODY HEAT in 1981, and the inspiration for any number of sweaty, neo-noir pale imitations, this brilliant film remains the real deal and unsurpassed.
Wilder's fractious collaboration with the great Raymond Chandler produced a wonderful screenplay, dripping with sharp dialogue and fatalistic symbolism, whilst the performances of the three leads - FRED MacMURRAY, BARBARA STANWYCK and EDWARD G ROBINSON - are faultless and represent their finest screenwork. Stanwyck's marvellously cold, cyncial and manipulative femme fatale remains the template for all that followed and her tart as a lemon dialogue exchanges with MacMurray's bluff, self-confident Insurance Claims Investigator are amongst the greatest in any film.
To add to these elements JOHN F. SEITZ, one of film noir's finest cameramen, creates visual poetry from the sunlight streaming through Californian windows and shadows of forboding during the beautifully staged murder sequence.
Come to think of it, this isn't just one of the greatest film noirs ever made, it's simply one of the greatest films ever made, period. If you haven't seen it, buy it now, if you had it on VHS from a long ago TV screening, still buy it as this print is excellent and probably the best available, although there's a disappointing lack of extras on the DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2014
Eureka’s Blu-Ray of the best noir movie ever made, comes in a generous package with copious extras. However, contrary to other reviews, the quality of the print is way lacking in what I had hoped for, and most certainly not reference standard. Overall the quality varies alarmingly, bouncing from near perfect with good gradation and strong blacks, to some scenes severly inclined to muddy greys and very poor definition. This looks like a straight hi-def transfer from a well traveled print with little or no restoration to speak of. Universal’s standard DVD is still the best print out there, and infinately better to watch than this disappointing Blu-Ray. The story however, eclipses all technical woes and is as good today as its always been. Five stars for the story, only three for the Blu-Ray I'm afraid. Stick with the DVD until something better arrives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 January 2015
Double Indemnity is a dark film that grips the viewer like ebony around a screw. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck make a fantastic noir duo, and the lines, particularly Stanwyck's, are delivered with a cool swagger and devastating sense of style. One of the things that makes it fascinating is the way you sense her to be something other than the role, yet by sheer skill she makes it fit like a kid glove. MacMurray is the perfect foil, being also distanced by the fact of narrating the film from a point where circumstances have obviously changed from what we see, and we know that he gets neither the money nor the girl more or less from the start. This doesn't make the distance covered any less absorbing in this tale of murder for the double insurance claim of the title. Billy Wilder's touch is evident in the intelligence of tone, also no doubt present because of Raymond Chandler whose reputation in this material is unparalleled (taken from a novella by James M. Cain), but it is probably Wilder who gives it a world-weariness that somehow cuts deeper than genre. He convinces you of the value of cinema as the ideal medium in which to reflect on the darker side of life with enough irony to leaven the effect. It is a beguiling picture of seamy morals and stooping low out of passion. Edward G. Robinson is also memorable, down-to-earth, and anchors the film, like a souped up mini gaining ground on a smooth-running Pontiac that simply can't get up the speed. His rumbling the truth in all but one vital detail is a bit like the later Stanwyck/MacMurray film, There's Always Tomorrow (made in 1956, 12 years after this one), where MacMurray's son stalks them with an equally partial view, to the point where he catches up with them ... But you also remember Stanwyck's hair with its rolled fringe both implausible and unnatural, glistening almost blondly in the evocative shadows and dim fabrics. For me she and MacMurray make a more appealing couple than the legendary Bogart/Bacall pairing, and the film is less labyrinthine, and closer to passion itself, than, say, The Big Sleep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A film based on book by James M. Cain's 1943 novelette of the same name. The book was loosely based on real life events in Queens New York in the 1920s. A crime that was perpetrated by an Ms Ruth Snyder, who cajoled her reluctant boyfriend, Judd Gray, to kill her husband Albert after having him take out a big insurance policy - with a double-indemnity clause. They were both eventually found out and put on the electric chair.

Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler as screenwriters and Wilder as director took their vision from the page to the screen. The cinematography of John F. Seitz is truly his `signature statement' in this film, with his background from the days of silent film, and film making roots in 1920s Berlin. His studied arrangement of light and shadows especially the use of "venetian blind" lighting, with the Walter Neff character would become a staple of the film noir look.

A film that has been much studied and analysed, and the stock-in-trade piece of any decent film course. That said, this film tells an engrossing narrative that was shaped, in part, by the confines of its time and by the Motion Picture Production Code. A code better known as the Hay's Code that were a set of industry moral censorship guidelines that governed the production of most United States motion pictures from the 1930s through to the 1960s. Then of course there are the three principle actors whose chemistry and interaction also made the film the classic that is. From the get go the role of Phyllis Dietrichson was Barbara Stanwyck - although hesitant at first, her appearance and acting gave the film it's sultry femme fatale who is able to bend Neff's character to her will. Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff was not the first choice for role by mile. It wasn't until Billy Wilder realised that he basically needed a `nice guy' for the role. Up until that picture, MacMurray had only played good affable characters, and he, rather like his co-star was worried about image. Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes seals the triangle of interaction and plays the insurance investigator who just won't give up digging for the truth and save the company a small fortune in a double-indemnity pay-out.

No matter how small your film tastes this is a film that is worth seeing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 January 2013
There are many good reviews around for this film so I won't try to do any plot spoilers or go too in depth if you have not seen this film.
Only to say that, even to this day Double Indemnity is a shining light of a motion picture.

It's also a firm slap in the face for modern Hollywood productions that value CGI and effects over a damn good story/plot, and a superb cast. From the solid direction from Billy Wilder, the excellent moody cinematography from John F. Seitz, solid film score too, Fred MacMurray as the calm and sensible (but bored) Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck as the seductress, and a brilliant Edward G. Robinson as the moody tough boss to Walter. It fits together beautifully in every respect the entire production crew and cast are simply superb in this production.

Of course none of this would matter if the story was pedestrian and uninteresting. Far from it the plot is one of the best around and completely engaging from start to finish. MacMurray's running commentary is superbly downbeat and reflective, adding hugely to the dark feel of the film and building tension. This is a PG film, there are no gimmicks or blood baths/gore, just a wonderful "real production" with talent oozing out of every corner of the film, and a great must watch plot.

Some wonderful witty lines in this film, they might seem corny to read but fit in perfectly with the film

Walter Neff: "Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money - and a woman - and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"

Walter Neff: "Yeah, I was, but I'm sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean"
Phyllis: "There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour."
Walter Neff: "How fast was I going, officer?"
Phyllis: "I'd say around ninety."

Wonderful stuff and a pleasure to watch on screen! I first watched the film in my early teens and enjoyed in immensely, yet continue to watch it to this day. Whilst I know the story (of course), the smiles it raises are still there. This stands the test of time in a way few movies really do. I sincerely hope they never attempt to re-make this movie (it has been vaguely copied a few times) The word "Classic" is banded around all too often for films and this holds up to that label and then some more

Pure brilliance, and shows modern movie makers how to make a real movie. In terms of overall performance only the equally compelling 12 Angry Men (Henry Fonda/Sidney Lumet) can stack up to this (different films but both masterpieces in their own right)
One to put on at night with the rain beating down, the film grips you from start to finish in every respect. Essential viewing for any film fan this will still be watched 100 years from now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2015
Little needs to be said about Double Indemnity. It's a terrific film with, for my money, a stunning performance from Barbara Stanwyck.

If, like me, you're more interested in these reviews for what they have to say about the package, here's a few thoughts. You get a decent documentary (around 30 minutes), a trailer, the radio adaptation, a booklet, and an audio commentary. Personally I was hugely frustrated with the commentary. Whilst the two speakers are doubtless very knowledgable, they make what I consider to be the cardinal sin of doing an audio commentary and don't actually provide commentary on the scenes as they unfold, preferring instead to give general thoughts about film noir and the film in its historic context. So many iconic, wonderful moments go by with the speakers wittering on about something tangential. That's not to say that what they're saying isn't interesting, it's just that it has no place in an audio commentary, in my view. A pet peeve of mine, and others may feel differently, but for me I wanted to hear them discuss the key moments at least, and the story much more. As it is I'm sorry to say much of the running time is spent with Lem Dobbs reminiscing about the time he spent with Wilder. Sorry Mr Dobbs, but who the heck cares?
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This film is the test of whether or not you love film noir. From the beginning, when Fred begins his confession as a wounded man in his office, you know that you are going to witness his descent from a successful if somewhat normal salesman into the realm of loser/criminal/dupe. The elements are all there: a quick payoff, a femme fatale, and his nagging feeling that there must be something more to life than his routine of peddling insurance policies to people who live in bigger houses than his measly apartment. It unwinds at an agonizing pace and is painful to watch, but fascinating and engaging all the same. For film buffs, there are many similarities in it to Body Heat.

THere are many original twists in this, in particular the wonderful character of Edward G. Robinson, an insurance investigator who has a "gut feeling" when something is a fraud that will cost the insurance company unjustly. He worries and paces, unravelling in his head the details of scams instead of having a life of his own. Fred is his friend and - as the guilty party in his own murder caper - plays a wonderful cat-and-mouse with Edward G. as he turns his attention to the case. I also loved the way the tension built between Stanwyck and Fred, as he comes to understand that their complicity links them for the rest of their lives. SLowly, Fred moves from loving her to fearing her to wanting to jettison her in any way he can. A single misstep and the whole thing cound unravel. Finally, there is the step daughter, who sows doubt but also is an apparent innocent. She is the most subtle character in the whole thing, I think.

Though I gravitated to scifi as a kid, I watched plenty of this crime stuff. It is very fun and allows one to step out of oneself for nearly 2 hours, a kind of reservoir of the way I saw the world through TV from the age of 7 or so. This is one of the best of the genre. Warmly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 June 2014
There are many good reviews around for this film so I won't try to do any plot spoilers or go too in depth if you have not seen this film.
Only to say that, even to this day Double Indemnity is a shining light of a motion picture.

It's also a firm slap in the face for modern Hollywood productions that value CGI and effects over a damn good story/plot, and a superb cast. From the solid direction from Billy Wilder, the excellent moody cinematography from John F. Seitz, solid film score too, Fred MacMurray as the calm and sensible (but bored) Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck as the seductress, and a brilliant Edward G. Robinson as the moody tough boss to Walter. It fits together beautifully in every respect the entire production crew and cast are simply superb in this production.

Of course none of this would matter if the story was pedestrian and uninteresting. Far from it the plot is one of the best around and completely engaging from start to finish. MacMurray's running commentary is superbly downbeat and reflective, adding hugely to the dark feel of the film and building tension. This is a PG film, there are no gimmicks or blood baths/gore, just a wonderful "real production" with talent oozing out of every corner of the film, and a great must watch plot.

Some wonderful witty lines in this film, they might seem corny to read but fit in perfectly with the film

Walter Neff: "Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money - and a woman - and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"

Walter Neff: "Yeah, I was, but I'm sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean"
Phyllis: "There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour."
Walter Neff: "How fast was I going, officer?"
Phyllis: "I'd say around ninety."

Wonderful stuff and a pleasure to watch on screen! I first watched the film in my early teens and enjoyed in immensely, yet continue to watch it to this day. Whilst I know the story (of course), the smiles it raises are still there. This stands the test of time in a way few movies really do. I sincerely hope they never attempt to re-make this movie (it has been vaguely copied a few times) The word "Classic" is banded around all too often for films and this holds up to that label and then some more

Pure brilliance, and shows modern movie makers how to make a real movie. In terms of overall performance only the equally compelling 12 Angry Men (Henry Fonda/Sidney Lumet) can stack up to this (different films but both masterpieces in their own right)
One to put on at night with the rain beating down, the film grips you from start to finish in every respect. Essential viewing for any film fan this will still be watched 100 years from now.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2005
At last , Billy Wilder's work is coming to region 2. This 1944 film noir sees Fred MacMurray playing insurance agent Walter Neff , who becomes involved with black widow - Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Cue: double crossing, hard boiled dialogue , much match striking by human thumb and a scene stealing performance by Edward G Robinson as Barton T Keyes. This film just sizzles along and is not to be missed. Double Indemnity was oscar nominated for best picture and director. Unfortunately it lost out , however , Wilder would return the next year with The Lost Weekend which took best picture , director and actor (Ray Milland). When Billy Wilder died in 2002 the world lost a brillaint film director - thank fully his legacy lives on.
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