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Double Indemnity: The Complete Screenplay Paperback – December 4, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Part of a series of published screenplays by the great Hollywood director-writer Billy Wilder, this one is for the brilliant 1944 film noir. . . "--"Sacramento Bee

About the Author

Billy Wilder has been nominated for twenty-one Academy Awards and has won six Oscars.
Jeffrey Meyers has written many books and articles on modern American, English, and European literature.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Printing edition (December 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520218485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520218482
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For those who already purchased the Library of America edition of "Raymond Chandler : Later Novels and Other Writings" (which contains the screenplay of "Double Indemnity"), here are two reasons why you should buy THIS edition of the "Double Indemnity" screenplay:
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nearly everyone who is likely to view this page knows and loves the movie, and would most likely prefer watching it to reading it. This leaves devoted fans of Wilder and Chandler to consider it, as well as perhaps students of the form.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Look, this is one of my favorite movies, so don't get me wrong when I say this book is disappointing. For some reason I thought there would be more footnotes, or behind the scenes stories. But there aren't. You get a facsimile of the original typewritten manuscript, 9 pages of introduction, and the final deleted gas chamber scene (3 pages). The introduction is interesting, but it's not worth buying the whole book for. And I already knew the dialogue by heart so the script is not useful to me. This can only be valuable to a collector of movie scripts!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Wanted the movie, ended up having to buy the 'Special Edition' that included the re-make (GAAAAAK). There are a lot of movies that should NEVER be re-made. This was one of them. Five stars otherwise.
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Format: DVD
As adapted by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wider from James M. Cain's serialized 1935 novella which was based on the Ruth Snyder case, DOUBLE INDEMNITY was nominated for seven Oscars. (Snyder and her lover were found guilty. A famous candid photo of Snyder's 1928 electrocution appeared in the NY Daily News.)

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
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