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Double Indemnity (Special Edition) (1944-1973)

Cast: Fred MacMurray, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, more...
Director: Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: MCA Home Video
Genre: Classics, Film Noir, Vintage Noir, Classic Crime
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Double Indemnity (Special Edition) (1944)
Directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from a James M. Cain novel by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, Double Indemnity represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman amidst the dark shadows and Expressionist lighting of modern cities. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces insurance agent Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the couple's passion cools, each becomes suspicious of the other's motives. The plan is further complicated when Neff's boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), a brilliant insurance investigator, takes over the investigation. Told in flashbacks from Neff's perspective, the film moves with ruthless determinism as each character meets what seems to be a preordained fate. Movie veterans Stanwyck, MacMurray, and Robinson give some of their best performances, and Wilder's cynical sensibility finds a perfect match in the story's unsentimental perspective, heightened by John Seitz's hard-edged cinematography. Double Indemnity ranks with the classics of mainstream Hollywood movie-making. ~ Linda Rasmussen, All Movie Guide

Double Indemnity (Televsion Version) (1973)
This discs contains the 1973 made for television version of Double Indemnity

GreenCine Says: Speaking of noir: Long out of print on DVD, Double Indemnity (1944) is the "most important Film noir ever made," according to Eddie Muller in his article about the film for GreenCine - all the more reason why this special two-disc edition is cause for rejoicing. Barbara Stanwyck is perhaps the ultimate femme fatale, and Fred MacMurray, long before My Three Sons, proves what a terrific actor he was, delivering the snappy dialogue (adapted for the screen by director Billy Wilder and detective novelist Raymond Chandler, from material by James M. Cain). "Despite years of imitation and parody, Double Indemnity never loses its freshness," writes Muller. "And make no mistake about it, everything you love about Double Indemnity was drawn up in the script, which is a masterful example of the screenwriter's art." Extras include two separate new audio commentary tracks, one with film historian Richard Schickel, and a second with film historian/screenwriter Lem Dobbs and film historian Nick Redman.

Double Indemnity: The Most Important Film Noir Ever Made. That's what he said, and he's sticking to it. "Don't even attempt a counter argument - there isn't one." Eddie Muller ought to know. Besides our primer on film noir, he's written several books on the subject. Jonathan Marlow interviewed him last year; Jennie Rose, a few years ago. Here, though, it's all about Double Indemnity. Full article >>

GreenCine Member Ratings

Double Indemnity (Special Edition) (1944)
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8.39 (84 votes)
Double Indemnity (Televsion Version) (1973)
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6.50 (6 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Quite Bad (of TV remake) by notrust March 26, 2007 - 5:39 PM PDT
I made the mistake of NOT removing this movie from my queue after finding out it was just a 1973 TV movie. I thought it would contain bonus features from the 1944 Billy Wilder version, but no, all the disc contains is a 1973 TV Movie remake. And a quite bad one at that, probably worthy of the MST 3K treatment.

The main character is an obscure actor who looks like the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. And the script seems to be largely unchanged from the 1944 version, with a few exceptions ("I didn't get the money and I didn't get the girl" vs. "I didn't get the money and I found out the girl wasn't worth having") There a few other changes, such as the man who washes Neff's car during the murder is a white guy in the remake.

But the script is largely intact, and the actors toss out their lines like they never rehearsed and couldn't care less. Much of the 1946 dialog seems out of place even in 1973. And the acting reminds me of a school play put by a drama class who was forced to act in a play that the teacher picked out.

About the only good thing I could salvage from this "movie" was a greater appreciation of what Billy Wilder was able to do in the 40's with these same lines, real actors, and a heck of a lot more inspiration and zest than you'll find in this dud. Try watching an old Columbo episode instead.

Delivers as Expected by notrust August 26, 2006 - 11:06 AM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I have been waiting 2 1/2 years to see this movie. It spent 2 years on my NF queue, while I had one, and six months on my Green Cine queue. After all that waiting, I finally saw the movie this week. Many thanks to Green Cine for shipping it to me early.

The plot is very similar to "The Postman Always Rings Twice", see the description above for more details. The script is very tight, no wasted scenes or dialog. The acting is top-notch, and the cinematography is flawless. There is a 40 minute "making of the movie" documentary included, which is also excellent.

As has been said, Double Indemnity is the most "important" film noir movie ever made. Maybe not the most enjoyable to watch, but very high-brow and technically proficient, in a "Citizen Kane" sort of way. I think the movie could have possibly used something to balance out the straight-faced seriousness of the second half of the film, although the scenes with Fred Mac Murray and Edward G. Robinson are playful at times, and the double-entedre dialog between Stanwick and Mac Murray at their first meetings are quite amusing. The movie does what it was intended to do, with ruthless efficiency, like an well drilled army taking over a city. And you have to give it credit for that.

All in all, a must-see masterpiece, but I don't doubt for a minute that there are more enjoyable ways to spend 2 hours. But out of fairness, there far worse.

More reviews for titles in this product:

L.A. Noirs
brightly colored grit... missing from this list: Sidney Lumet's Morning After

see all lists

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