Double Indemnity (Universal Legacy Series)
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Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in this gripping film noir from Academy Award-winning director Billy Wilder. A calculating wife encourages her wealthy husband to sign a double indemnity policy proposed by smitten insurance agent Walter Neff. As the would-be lovers plot the unsuspecting husband's murder, they are pursued by a suspicious claims manager (Edward G. Robinson). It's a race against time to get away with the perfect crime in this heart-racing Academy Award-nominated masterpiece.
If there's anything you ever wanted to know about Double Indemnity or film noir, you're likely to find it in these special features: two feature commentaries; an in-depth documentary; and an introduction by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies to put the movie into context. Osborne's introduction of Indemnity, "by far one of the best film noir dramas ever made," succinctly sets the background, noting how many pieces of this delicate film puzzle almost never came together, and some of the issues will seem almost quaint to modern viewers (the producers had difficulty casting actors in 1944 who were willing to be in a movie with a plot centered on adultery and murder), which is key to understanding the edge this movie had upon its release. If you've never seen the movie before, you may want to watch the 37-minute documentary Shadows of Suspense first to pique your interest. Shadows does an excellent job of showing why and how noir came to be, and how Indemnity is at the vortex of that movement, illustrating the dramatic history of the film itself and the numerous obstacles that had to be overcome to get it onto the screen. "If I had one movie to explain to people what noir is, it's Double Indemnity" states author Eddie Muller at the start of Shadows. Muller also states that noir is Hollywood's only organic artistic movement, making Indemnity a movie that is a symbol of a watershed era in American film. The two commentary tracks-the first by film historian Richard Schickel, the second by screenwriter Lem Dobbs and film historian Nick Redman together-go in-depth beyond the points raised in Osborne's introduction to flesh out the characters in the movie, as well as the characters behind the scenes like director Billy Wilder and co-writer Raymond Chandler. Taken together, the two commentary tracks could make a decent film-school lecture session. The second disc contains the forgettable 1973 television movie version of Double Indemnity starring Richard Crenna and Samantha Eggar. This 75-minute long version may only be interesting as a comparison to the original, proving the old adage that "they just don't make 'em like they used to." --Daniel Vancini
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Top Customer Reviews
Based on James Cain's novel, DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Paramount, 1944) unfolds in true film noir style as an insurance agent (MacMurray) relates via voice-over how he became entangled in a murder plot by a scheming wife (Stanwyck) to rid herself of her husband and collect the insurance. Right away, their "perfect crime" starts to fall apart when the foxy claims manager (Robinson) begins to investigate.
The film gels with clockwork precision, and the suspense is genuinely nailbiting. What contributes to its effectiveness is the casting against type of good guy MacMurray as a killer. Stanwyck also delivers what is considered to be the definitive femme fatale portrayal, right down to the phony blonde wig. Beyond a doubt, this is just about as deliciously dark that film noir can possibly get.
This Blu-ray edition of DOUBLE INDEMNITY from Universal is gorgeous - the HD transfer was taken off the original 35mm film elements. Clarity of the black and white image is exceptional, and the mono audio track is crystal clear. The bonus features include an intro by TCM host Robert Osborne, a documentary on the making of the movie, commentaries by historians Richard Schickel, Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman, the theatrical trailer, and the 1973 made for TV feature based on the original film. You also get five photo card reproductions.
The bottom line: Get this. It's what film classics are all about. My highest recommendation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Stanwyick gives a stellar performance.Read more
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