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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2014

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"Double Indemnity" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

Double Indemnity

Synopsis

Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) and Walter Neff (MacMurray) are having an affair, and Phyllis convinces Walter to have her husband (Tom Powers) take out a life insurance policy with a double indemnity clause that would double the amount of money that she would get in the event of his death. Then the husband is found dead near a railroad track, and the police report states the death was by accident. However, Barton Keys (Robinson), an insurance claims manager, is suspicious, and pursues his theory of murder, with the irony being that he is one of Walter's closest friends.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1944, B&W, Not Rated, 1 hour 48 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio 1.35:1
  • 1080P
  • 2.0 DTS-MA
  • Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Tom Powers
  • Directed by: Billy Wilder
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: No

Commentary

Film Noir is a category of films made in the 1940's through early 1950's, which were full of shadows (low key), cynical, sexual, and based in crime. Double Indemnity is one of the best, having been nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Technical

The restoration of this 70 year old film is excellent, maintaining the dark angst that pervades the story. Black & White is probably the only way this genre of movies could be filmed at the time, as 1940's color film and shadows didn't mix very well. More importantly, color would have taken away from the visual impact.

Extras

There are several features, such as "Shadows of Suspense" and the complete 1973 remake of Double Indemnity. For the original 1944 version, note that there was an alternate ending to the one that was actually chosen for the movie. I suppose they test both endings with audiences before deciding on how to end the story. Here is a still from the alternate ending. You can see that it was not a pleasant finale. Notice the strong shadows, especially in the eyes. The stage was lit from above to produce this effect, and was a standard way of lighting Film Noir movies.