Double Indemnity

Cert PG

If you like your dialogue hardboiled, your lighting shadowy, and your femmes fatales preposterously evil, then look no further: Billy Wilder's 1944 adaptation of James M Cain's insurance-scam novella.

Doorstepping salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) becomes the archetypal schnook caught in a man-trap of greed and gullibility after knocking on the door of Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck, leading with her fringe); his ability to anticipate the moves of accident investigators is the secret weapon in their attempt to off her husband and score a $50,000 payday simultaneously.

Despite their exquisitely constructed exchanges (much of which was supplied by scriptwriter Raymond Chandler), it's Edward G Robinson, as the bulldog sniffer-out of phoney claims Barton Keyes, who really grabs the eye now. His powerhouse, cigar-chomping performance makes him by far the most vivid creation on show.


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
My favourite film: Double Indemnity

In our writers' favourite film series, Paul Howlett is moved by the heartbreak in this classy film noir about an insurance salesman

Paul Howlett

29, Nov, 2011 @9:25 AM

Article image
Double Indemnity: No 6 best crime film of all time

Billy Wilder, 1944

Ryan Gilbey

17, Oct, 2010 @10:50 AM

Article image
Philip French's classic DVD: Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder's collaboration with Raymond Chandler produced a superb thriller that helped define film noir, writes Philip French

Philip French

28, Jul, 2012 @11:01 PM

Article image
From femme fatale to cattle rancher: how Barbara Stanwyck bucked convention
Her versatility made her a star of Hollywood’s golden age, but Stanwyck’s best characters were always fighters who, like herself, had tasted life’s bitterness

Pamela Hutchinson

18, Jan, 2019 @10:57 AM

Article image
François Truffaut – the man who loved actors
Film-makers usually come off badly when films get made about them. François Truffaut is the honourable exception, says Alex Cox

Alex Cox

17, Feb, 2011 @10:23 PM

Article image
After The Maltese Falcon: how film noir took flight
Ushering in an uneasy world of femmes fatales and shady sleuths, The Maltese Falcon marked the beginnings of film noir. Seventy-five years on, how can this genre speak to our times?

Phil Hoad

28, Oct, 2016 @2:00 PM

Article image
From The Naked City to Double Indemnity – why the 1940s is my favourite film decade
War changed everything, destroying whole film industries and heralding a new era of realism, grit and shoots on location

John Patterson

28, Mar, 2018 @5:00 AM

The Heavy: Film review

One more geezerish gangster thriller starring Gary Stretch. By Cath Clarke

Cath Clarke

15, Apr, 2010 @10:45 PM

Film review: Married Life

A well-acted but lugubrious noir, which is somehow not quite thrilling enough to be a thriller

Peter Bradshaw

31, Jul, 2008 @11:06 PM

Article image
Dum Maaro Dum – review
The illegal narcotics trade in Goa is an unusual topic for Bollywood, but this is a brave attempt, says Phelim O'Neill

Phelim O'Neill

28, Apr, 2011 @10:13 PM