[PASSNOTES] ‘DOUBLE INDEMNITY’ A TEXT BOOK NOIR, TAWDRY BUT GRACEFUL AND GLEEFULLY ENTERTAINING

By on October 18th, 2013

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944) Dir. Billy Wilder – Showing at QFT Belfast 18th October

Who’s in it? Edward G. Robinson, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck

What’s it about? Legendary Hollywood studio era director Billy Wilder – the man behind all time classics Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot and The Apartment – delivered another genre refining stunner with 1944’s Double Indemnity. A text book Noir and veritable ‘how to’ for aspiring masters of suspense about a double-crossing femme fatale (Stanwyck), a dirty rotten scoundrel (MacMurray) and a downright despicable insurance scam. Oozing with the atmospheric style and blue collar charisma beloved of the genre, Double Indemnity is without doubt the highlight of the My Noir season screening as part of the 2013 Belfast Festival at Queens.

Memorable Moments: Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keye’s has more than one memorable scene but one in particular displays Double Indemnity’s delightfully dry humour and guttersnipe charm as Robinson’s no-nonsense insurance clerk sniffs out a dodgy claim when a client comes looking for an easy payout. How does he know it’s a phoney? “Because my little man tells me… the little man in here, every time one of these phonies comes along he ties knots in my stomach, I can’t eat!”.

Look who’s talking: ‘The film is a brilliant collision of evil and the mundane, and one of the reasons viewers respond to it so well is that it makes the mundane seem a little sexier in the resulting debris’ – Douglas Pratt, Hollywood Reporter

Like that? Try this: The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall aka ‘Bogie and Bacall’, is a similarly tawdry yet graceful thriller of the old school Noir tradition, this time adapting Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel of the same name with Bogart as ‘hard-boiled’ Private Dick Philip Marlowe. The quintessential crime thriller and Chandler’s most iconic novel, The Big Sleep has everything you would expect from a classic Film Noir: mystery, intrigue, murder, betrayal and the acerbic wit and askew Trilby’s that come as standard.

Trivia Pursuit: Barbara Stanwyck initially had reservations about playing an ‘out-and-out cold blooded killer’, having previously been known for more sympathetic heroines, until Billy Wilder convinced her to take the part in his typically abrupt manner exclaiming: “Are you an actress or a mouse?”.

2 Responses to “[PASSNOTES] ‘DOUBLE INDEMNITY’ A TEXT BOOK NOIR, TAWDRY BUT GRACEFUL AND GLEEFULLY ENTERTAINING”

  1. 1 le0pard13
    October 18th, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    A great noir, indeed!

  2. 2 Ronan Wright
    October 21st, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Indeed!

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