4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Definition of a masterpiece: "Double Indemnity",
This review is from: Double Indemnity (Universal Legacy Series) (DVD)
Great movie, one of the all-time best, must be seen by all humans on planet Earth, we all agree, okay. No need to beat a dead horse.
I have to say I'm not super crazy about the packaging, and there's really no need to watch the 1973 TV version except to see how much better it was done in 1944 (although this word-for-word remake wasn't as ill-advised as, say, a shot-for-shot remake of "Psycho," for instance)....but it's a waste of time to complain when you have a movie as great as "Double Indemnity" as exhibit A here. The accompanying documentary and 2 commentary tracks are fine, and it's interesting to ponder how radically different this movie would've been with Alan Ladd or (shudder) George Raft in the lead instead of the deceptively genial Fred MacMurray, but there's really not much here that you'll probably watch more than once, aside from the movie itself, of course, which holds up under viewings in the hundreds.
The documentary mentions an aborted cameo by director Billy Wilder, but it does not mention another, successful cameo, and nor do the commentaries, which leads me to believe they've all missed it. It is easy to miss: the first time we meet Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is in his office, he's dressing down a schlub who has set his truck on fire for the insurance money. MacMurray's character is there, and when he leaves he walks past a man sitting outside the office. Pause and take a close look at this man, and then take a look at a picture of Raymond Chandler. That is Philip Marlowe's creator himself sitting there, my friend.
So that astonishing revelation aside, this is just simply a fantastic movie, as fun and thrilling to watch the 121st time, in 2008, as it was the 1st time, in 1944. The acting by the three leads is superb, the direction and lighting are expressive to the point of Hitchcock, and the dialogue is, well, it makes you want to bust out crying that anybody was ever that good, and why can't anybody be that good today?