Review of "Double Indemnity"

Essay by pchowUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2002

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Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder's 1944 film noir classic, "Double Indemnity", is a tale of lust, deceit, greed and murder. Its shadowy and dodgy scenes help to show the dark side of the characters involved in the plot. Somewhat customary to the film noir genre is the presence of the femme fatale, who by nature is out to exploit anyone in her way to accomplish her objective. "Double Indemnity" is no exception. It's the story of a wife, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who lures an insurance salesman into a plot to murder her husband in order to collect on an insurance policy. Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), the salesman, is so stricken with Dietrichson from the moment that he laid eyes on her that he is easily taken. So much so that he is the one to conceive the entire scheme. And a clever scheme it was.

The plan was to sell the unsuspecting husband a life insurance policy without him knowing about it. Then while taking the husband to the train station for a business trip, Neff would murder him and then board the train as if he were Mr. Dietrichson. Subsequently, he would stage an accident where it appeared that he had fallen off the train and died. They would then lay the already lifeless body of the real Mr. Dietrichson on the tracks to be found and then the case would be ruled an accident. They could then collect twice the insurance money under a double indemnity clause of the insurance policy. A flawless plan, so they thought. The only problem is that Neff's boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), is a pesky insurance claims investigator that won't quit.

The film begins with Neff driving to his office in the middle of the night...