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There's no such thing as a perfect murder
Double Indemnity (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Double Indemnity (DVD)
Advantages: Acting, direction, atmosphere and pace
Disadvantages: Nothing for me
Double Indemnity is a wonderfully woven film noir which features Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman who falls for Barbara Stanwyck's loving charms and smouldering look and sensual deep voice as they plot together to kill her husband to claim the insurance money. Director Billy Wilder has some gems in his closet, not least this one, which weaves its way through what should be, and indeed seems to be, the perfect murder. However, things are never quite as perfect as they seem, and there's no such thing as the perfect murder.
The film opens with a shuffling MacMurray looking very tired as he appears at his office building late one night, making it up to the office before recording a message to his boss and friend Keys. As he starts speaking, we realise it's a confession, and Wilder walks us through the events of the previous weeks that have led to this dishevelled man making a tired confession. It's a little different to Sunset Boulevard, where the opening scene sees the lead male character dead in a pool with his voiceover, although the similarities in the fortunes are quite noteable. The style is also similar, with a definite noir feel to proceedings as plenty of the film takes place in the heat.
We get a number of different things going on here, and it's thanks to the acting of the lead two that it works so marvellously. The romance and attraction are clear from the start, the two of them falling for each other immediately, and Wilder wastes no time in showing us what the whole point of the film is. If anything, I thought this a little fast and unbelievable that instant attraction between an unhappy second wife and an insurance salesman would produce such a quick idea and agreement, trust and all things considered being a given as oppose to being built up over time.
The posturing is done really well, and the tension makes you sit riveted to the screen for the most part of the film. It doesn't last throughout, but when it's there, it provides a really intense sort of viewing experience. You know it's all going to go wrong, but everything seems just so perfectly planned that you wonder how. There's something so dashing and debonair about the gruff insurance salesman, with the femme fatale of Stanwyck oozing something sexy and sultry with apparent ease. The pair really do create an air of intrigue that makes you want to find out what's going to happen. We already know from the opening scene that it didn't all go to plan in the end, but I really liked the way the plot developed and panned out. Wilder really knows what he's doing.
The supporting cast do a sterling job of keeping up with the lead pair, ensuring the crime thriller status is maintained and that the pressure is constantly on the prospective murderers looking to make a quick buck, as it were. Overall, the success is there from the start to the finish, and I applaud the efforts that have gone into making this look effortless. Recommended.
Summary: Gripping noir crime thriller about an insurance salesman who is cajoled into helping with a murder