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Good, but not THAT good
on 23 November 2007
I'm afraid that, despite its pedigree and high reputation, Double Indemnity still just doesn't grab me that much. Partially it's because the film simply isn't good enough to live up to its hallowed reputation, but largely because of the disastrous miscasting of Barbara Stanwyck, who simply doesn't sell as the kind of woman you'd kill for. Enter a dodgy real estate deal or run confidence tricks with, sure, but she's just not the kind of gal to make a feller's privates jump up and do tricks until he's so desperate he'll kill her husband for her, and the trashy wardrobe and wig just makes her seem even less likely. She doesn't give a bad performance, but she's the wrong actress in the wrong movie. Fred McMurray isn't a perfect fit either as the easily corrupted insurance man behind the plan, but he at least is able to twist his image enough to more or less get away with it, even if at times it does feel like you're watching the local scout master and the church organist in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire... Edward G. Robinson fares better in a part that relies more on fast-talking statistics than especially good dialog (there are far fewer gems here than in probably any other Wilder film), but his character still feels more like a plot device than a person at times, only really delivering some genuine humanity in his last couple of scenes. Don't get me wrong, it's an okay film - just not in any way an outstanding one.
Unlike the US two-disc special edition, which includes audio commentaries, documentary, trailer and the 1973 TV movie remake, the UK DVD from Universal has no extras at all. Masters of Cinema's UK Blu-ray includes one of the commentaries, documentary and trailer alongside a half-hour radio adaptation and booklet.