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Double Indemnity: The Complete Screenplay Paperback – December 4, 2000
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Jeffrey Meyers has written many books and articles on modern American, English, and European literature.
Top Customer Reviews
1. Unlike most other screenplays published in book form, this edition of "Double Indemnity" appears to be a facsimile of the original screenplay; It's not just a book, but a relic of classic film.
2. This edition also has the alternate/deleted "Gas Chamber" ending which the Library of America edition is lacking.
If it were not for the above two qualities, I would recommend any Chandler fan to purchase the Library of America edition of Chandler's work that contains the "Double Indemnity" screenplay instead of this one. Here's why:
In this edition, Chandler's name does NOT appear on the cover; only Bill Wilder is credited on the cover. However, Chandler's name DOES appear on the title page and first page of the screenplay (the Amazon scans of the book illustrate this curiosity). Why the exclusion of Chandler from the cover?!
Answer: This book was published while Billy Wilder was still alive and he was able to steal the limelight from Raymond Chandler one last time. Well done, Mr. Wilder.
As for the screenplay itself, I've read a lot of screenplays of movies that I have liked and "Double Indemnity" reads better than most. The voice-over dialogue for Neff (written by Chandler) is the best part of the screenplay and is worth having in print. Whether you're a fan of classic Film Noir or an aspiring screenwriter, this is a must-have for your bookshelf. As for Chandler fans, it's only a matter of which edition.Read more ›
The screenplay itself is an unquestioned masterpiece, and has not even the movie's very very few faults (poor acting by secondary characters, etc.). So I will limit my comments to my assertion that this edition GREATLY underestimates the contributions of Chandler, going so far as to paint him as a pasty fussbudget ignorant of the craft of writing. Not true, bud, not by a long shot.
Wilder and Chandler got along like cats and dogs. That's no secret. Yet while Chandler had his faults, Wilder seemed to live to antagonize him, and quite uncharitably described him in some comments reprinted here. Saying how the married Chandler envied Wilder for "having all the pretty girls at Paramount" is one example of how cheap and childish the director's opinion of his co-writer was, as stated in this edition, quoting Wilder's bio. Either Wilder or Meyers had some crude bias against Chandler, if the introduction of this tome is to be believed at all. Because it's not even an accurate presentation of what Wilder really felt, as quoted in Chandler's own hit-and-miss bio written by Tom Hiney.
Anyway, much of the *structure* of the screenplay- the flashbacks, the additional scenes, the ebb and flow- is Wilder's tremendous savvy. But the things film historians seem to treasure above all else in this movie are the rapid-fire, crudely poetic, vernacular dialogue, as well as the feeling of cynical decay wrapped around the doomed couple's whole misbegotten endeavor like a shroud. And for those, I propose, Chandler must be given the majority of the credit.Read more ›
Chandler's simile and adjective-laden flashback narration lends a period feel here, more so than costumes and automobiles. (Cameo: the author is seen reading a paperback at the insurance co. office.)
In a textbook film noir ably directed by Wilder, insurance man Walter Neff (MacMurray), for the love of unhappily married Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck), eliminates her husband (Powers) by committing what he thinks is the perfect murder. But soon after the inquest results in a suicide ruling, Walter's boss, actuarial expert Barton Keyes (Robinson), figures out to the last detail how and why the crime was committed. The only unsolved detail: *who* helped Phyllis kill Mr. D. for a hundred grand payoff on a two-week-old accident policy the deceased had no idea even existed.
Despite occasionally corny dialogue and Stanwyck's gosh-awful George Washington fright wig, "Double Indemnity" is the sort of film that stands up well to repeated viewings. Most highly recommended!
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.
(8.5) Double Indemnity (1944) - Fred MacMurray/Barbara Stanwyck/Edward G. Robinson/Porter Hall/Jean Heather/Tom Powers/Byron Barr
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Double Indemnity is perhaps the greatest Film Noire. With a screenplay by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, it should be. Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by John Aaron
No cover art. Don't like that. Wanted cover art. Did not see that it came without in the ad for the product.Published on December 14, 2011 by Nicholas Alesso
I enjoy anything written by Raymond Chandler and this screenplay was certainly no exception. I had watched the movie several times before reading the screenplay and it still held... Read morePublished on October 23, 2010 by Robert Sweeney
This is a great script. A must read for those who are studying the art and wish to become a screenwriter.Published on May 15, 2009 by Carla D. Bartz
I have watched the movie a number of times and had fun reading the script. The subtext is a riot. I think most thinkers will "get" it.Published on May 3, 2008 by Carol A. King
Billy Wilder may not have been born in America, but he knew America inside and out, from the vernacular of the ordinary folks to the sleezy ambitions and passions of the middle... Read morePublished on January 3, 2007 by Bruce D. Reeves