Double Indemnity

January 4th, 2007 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

You might only know Billy Wilder from the screwball comedies on which he frequently collaborated with Marilyn Monroe. Sure, he was most famous for films like The Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot, but before that he’d forged the genre Hollywood was most in love with throughout the pre-war years, noir.

The genre wasn’t new when Double Indemnity appeared in 1944, but it had all the iconic elements in the right place; a beautiful dame with a dark secret (Barbara Stanwyck), an anti-hero everyday Joe dragged into a deadly conspiracy (MacMurray) a style all its own and a sense of foreboding.

The window dressing is dated now, but look beyond it; Wilder’s story of an insurance salesman agreeing to murder the cruel husband of a beautiful client is the progenitor of everything from Chinatown to The Last Seduction.

There’s an interesting documentary/love letter to the film noir genre and three short documentaries on the lives and careers of principals Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G Robinsom.

The double disc is full of tidbits not just about the film but the industry in the 40’s, and is essential viewing if you’re a fan of Wilder, noir or any of the cast.


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