Double Indemnity (Universal Legacy Series)
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this review is of the NEW Universal 2 dvd set.... which is a three star value.
Typical of Universals crappy Deer Hunter 2 DVD set..we've got a classic movie....with extras that could easily fit on one DVD...but Universal tries to make this into a bigger "ticket" by stretching it out.
The movie....its a classic...I've got the original release on DVD. The EXTRAS are
1) an introduction by Robert Osborne, nothing special and watched once you'll be irritated having to see it again every time you hit PLAY..
2) commentary tracks by the usual suspects (including the king of bloat Richard Schickel) and Universal has two so they put two more extra features on their package for these..
3) a half hour film noir primer , that's been done better on the WB noir sets and again features the same film professors etc that we are growing all too familiar with.
4) a 1 hour and 15 minute TV version from the 70's starring Richard Crenna ...which is the ONLY feature on the second disc.
I'll give Universal a bit of credit...the film itself does seem a bit improved over the initial out of print release...but closer scrutiny of the two would be necessary and I've got a life so I'll leave that to others.
Bottom line....Universal is hard to figure out...they take some multiple classic titles and stuff em onto flipper DVDs (info on both sides) and crank em out cheap..ie the Brando,Wayne,Cooper,Lombard sets....and then they take other films and run the package to two discs for no other reason than to make it "seem" important and packed with extras. They use strange fat cases to make it seem like these are books full of goodies instead of space filling clear plastic...Read more ›
This would be frustrating for any film but is downright shameful treatment of a cinema classic. We can only hope someone will spend the time and money necessary to restore the print for a new theater run, as has been done with other older films. Perhaps then, DVD buyers will get the version of this classic they deserve.
But this September the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC screened their newly restored 35mm print of this film. It was stunning gorgeous B&W imagery (think the 2-disc special edition of Casablanca which came out last year). I'll be checking Amazon every few weeks to see if its release has been scheduled!
So begins Billy Wilder's incomparable film noir, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944, Paramount), that uses a flashback framing device, but periodically returns to Neff in the office as dawn slowly comes to Los Angeles. Murder mysteries just don't get any better than this masterpiece that swept the Oscar nominations (but not for MacMurray!), but lost most of them to Leo McCarey's likeable but wildly overrated GOING MY WAY. Trying to get a Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers) to renew an insurance policy, Neff gets romantically involved with alluring wife Phyllis Dietrichson (a blonde Barbara Stanwyck). The two of them then team up to commit the seemingly perfect murder of Mr. Dietrichson on a train at night.
Everything seems to go perfectly, except for a witness (Porter Hall) who remembers Neff (as Dietrichson) being on the observation deck when he was not supposed to be. And, of course, investigating the entire crime is claims manager Barton Keyes (a brilliant Edward G. Robinson), Neff's boss. I once wrote a term paper on DOUBLE INDEMNITY as a student at UCLA. The subject was who do we root for here--Neff or Keyes? Clearly, the censor board wants us to root for Keyes. Neff is a criminal.
But Wilder and co-writer/novelist Raymond Chandler make both men complex and curiously sympathetic.Read more ›
It's a pity the DVD is so very poor. It's really awful. I can't stress this enough. It's very grainy, there are no bonus features at all, and there's no liner notes at all. Extremely shoddy treatment of such a wonderful film. I'd like to see a special edition of this film produced as soon as possible, and done right!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Real-star performances by Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson, superb script by director Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler and incredibly atmospheric... Read morePublished 16 hours ago by JHB-4
This is an excellent film from the Golden Age with outstanding performances by Barbara Stanwyck (no surprise there), Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Eve
One get old time movie.......And a must have to watch.......
This is when Movies were good. The actors could act... And the movie was worth watching....
Academy Award nominations: Picture, Director-Billy Wilder, Leading Actress-Barbara Stanwyck, Screenplay, B&W Cinematography, Sound Mixing and Scoring of a Picture-Miklos... Read morePublished 16 days ago by March boy
Simply the greatest of the cinema noirs. This story is filled with amazingly broken characters rushing into incredible situations. Read morePublished 22 days ago by jadedpcguy
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I've just bought this "Special Edition" simply because I love the film, it's my favorite Noir. As far as the quality of the transfer is concerned, I have to admit that after watching the film I was somewhat surprised by Robert Osborne's gushing intro saying how good the film now looks.... Read More
Sep 16, 2006 by Paul Fogarty | See all 3 posts
7 years later, and I have the same comment as Bev. Amazon is putting the same comment thread on all the DVDs, so the 3-4 different DVD releases all have the same 'bad transfer' comment. But you can't tell which copy is bad (are they all bad). errr.
Nov 29, 2013 by John S. Mclachlan | See all 2 posts
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