Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Double Indemnity (1944)

It’s late at night as a car frantically drives through the darkness, going past the stop sign and nearly having a collision with another driver. A man who is in a hurry to turn up at his workplace in downtown Los Angeles. It stops at a halt outside of The Pacific All Risk Insurance Company. A tall guy steps out of the car donning a fedora and a long coat.

A man greets him at the entrance ” why hello there, Mr. Neff..working pretty late aren’t look kind of all in, at that.” Mr. Neff doesn’t say much expect that he would rather get to his office than make small talk with a guy who can’t get life insurance because there’s something loose in his heart.

Up at the office, Walter Neff sits in the darkness of the room and slowly lights up a cigarette.  His sweat visible in the shadows of the light as he picks up the dictaphone..”It all began last May. Around the end of May it was. I’d been out to Glendale to deliver a policy on some dairy trucks. On the way back I remembered this auto renewal near Los Feliz Boulevard.  So I drove over there “.

Flashback to Walter Neff, an insurance salseman who works magic at his job. He goes to pay a visit to Mr. Dietrichson about some renewals on his automobiles but is greeted by his wife who stands at the top of the staircase wearing her best dressed smile, since that was all she was wearing, besides the towel wrapped around her body.

Mr Neff smirks in appreciation. He explains that her husband’s insurance ran out, all the while keeping his gaze locked onto hers. He shows he cares because “ i’d hate to think of you having a smashed fender..or something while you’re not fully covered “. 

With her face on straight, she greets him in the living room while he tries to avoid those legs stretched along the couch. They breifly talk about her husbands insurance whilst Walter dons his impressive charm of 11 years In the buisness to explain the rates and charges of a new featured policy. The lady is impressed so it seems. “Your’e a smart insurance man arent you Mr. Neff? “

Walter turns his gaze back to miss long legs, ” wish you’d tell me what’s engraved  on that anklet “. She responds that it’s just her name. “Phyllis”. Walter smiles once again in a way a man does when he wants to get closer to a mysterious woman. “ I think i like that. I’d have to drive it around the block a couple of times”. 

There’s a speed limit in this state Mr Neff. 45 miles an hour..

How fast was I going officer?..suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

suppose I let you off with a warning this time.

Their flirtation is as hot as a red hot poker that could pierce a person’s heart. She surely appreciates these remarks and invites him back tomorrow evening.  Buisness is almost forgotten in the midst of their flirtation, a saucy comeback of a conversation that only a  noir movie can bring forth in full glory.

From the moment he had met Phyllis, her gaze and her honeysuckle perfume, captivated his senses. He didn’t realise such a sweet taste could turn so sour.

Ma’am could you kindly put your eggs in my basket

Feeling like a million, back at his office there was a phone message from Phyllis. She didn’t want to meet him at the appointed time they arranged, but on a thursday afternoon instead. He was a busy man with alot lined up but he couldn’t shake the feeling he had for her, “..and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg”. He needed to see that again.

That afternoon, over iced tea, they try to get down to buisness about those renewals for the automobile, but Phyllis wants to put a break on that. “Tell me Walter, on this insurance, how much comission do you make? “..The other day a casing line snapped. It’s got me all jittery thinking about it. Suppose something like that happened to my husband..dont you think he ought to have accident insurance?”

Walter speaks his profession and casually continues to explain the captical sum and the payment if worse should come of it, which sparks far more interest in Phyllis. Unknowingly, Walter just supposes you need to think of everything when it comes to buisness.

Figeting her hands together, Phyliis tries to charm her way through her supposed innocence, so she could get an accident policy for her husband without him knowing about it. “ He’s superstitious about it. If there was a way to get it like that, all the worry would be over, you see what i mean? “

Walter and his good eyesight, realises her intentions, “Look baby you cant get away with it” and swiftly proves to bid her goodbye. He later distracts himself at bowling and drinking beer to get that sour taste out from her iced tea and everything that came with her, until she came knocking on his apartment that rainy night.

On the couch, sat this venerable lady pouring her heart out over bourbon, to a man she had managed to pull some emotional strings with. She explains her dysfunctional marriage to a drunken husband who often hits her and he’s “so mean to me. He never lets me go anywhere. He keeps me shut up. Walter i dont want to kill him”..Walter acknowledges this ” only sometimes you wish he was dead”. 

Based on the novel by James M. Cain who is a brilliant writer of hardboiled crime, comes this live adaptation of equal entertainment. It’s the wonderful characters of the well suited gentleman who speaks faster than a moving train and the (almost) damsel in distress, being the perfect bombshell one could hope to lust after, that plays her seductive but tough roles so well, all parcelled in a noir setting of ‘who did it’ that I have come to love in so many novels, notably that by the works of Raymond Chandler ,who even makes his cameo in this movie.

Everyones smoking,  everyone’s drinking and I’d like mine with a noir setting on the side. It’s my favourite kind of taste.

The movie is the epitome of a classic, dark noir movie I always invisioned it to be as I would read such novels through the night. The sleek, playful dialogue is smart and sharp at every turn and the narration of the voice over leaves plenty of room for admiration.

Sometimes accidents happen and somebody slips up. Sometimes you think you’ll go past unnoticed, you’re a nobody,  you were never here and never there..and sometimes you think you’ve gotten it all figured out..all wrapped up in tissue paper with pink ribbons around it.

Credits: Directed by Billy Wilder, Screenplay by Raymond Chandler, based on the novel by James M. Cain

Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson and others

Music by: Miklos Rozsa



A Mademoiselle living in the U.K Born in the late 80's with a vintage heart. My blog is made up of my thoughts; be it through the eyes of a great movie, the chapters of a book or in the hands of a game and other ideas that set my mind apart.. here on an open platform to share with the rest of the world. Won't you join me..

25 thoughts on “Double Indemnity (1944)

    1. It certainly deserves a special screening of such a timeless classic. I love the smart detective and style of dialogue that was so well adapted in a movie. It’s like a smooth shot of whisky that lights fire to your body in an energetic way.. (not that I’ve ever tried whisky).


  1. Fabulous prose, you really did justice to this; my all time favourite film noir. First, you have Barbara Stanwyck. So sleek, sexy, smooth and silky and just a tad vulgar. And then Fred MacMurray – tough, self-motivated, and a patsy. And then the wonderful Edward G., who almost walks away with the film, and that’s no mean feat considering he was playing against Stanwyck and MacMurray. This is one of the great noirs; I never tire of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s one of my favourite classic noir movies..I’m glad you liked my style of could call it the ‘noir in moi’.

      Barbara was just the ideal character to play such a role as I had idealised her form the book and I agree about Fred’s status of the tough but almost blind- sighted ignorance he had for such a lustful life. “I’m crazy about you baby” ,is just as crazy as it sounds, not to forget the wonderful Edward G. with a big spitting mouth who has such a charisma and wit to him that no one can fool even once. It’s a movie I always love to go back to watch. ☺


    1. Thank you Paul. It’s one of my favourite types of genres and one that remains at large in my heart. I love books and movies such as certainly does makes a change to watching a cape crusader fight an endless battle once more. It’s the brilliant story of a realistic like you say and almost unnatural circumstamces that make the story so compelling and smart i feel.

      Thank you for liking and reading my thoughts and for yours in exchange. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great movie. 🙂

    I remember Barbara Stanwyck kept appearing in my dreams the first time I watched this.

    I like the way you wrote this review in a film noir hard boiled crime novel fashion with witty dialogue and witty metaphors.The same way Jack Webb would narrate an old time radio episode of Pat Novak For Hire.

    Fred MacMurray was always great in those film noir roles.

    And of course nobody could catch a Film Noir villain better than Edward G. Robinson.

    He was great in this role just like he was great at catching Orson Welles as the escaped Nazi now posing as a New England college professor married to a Supreme Court justice’s daughter in Orson Welles’ 1946 film noir The Stranger.

    Robinson was also great as the innocent painter of art driven to crime in an act of passion in Fritz Lang’s 1945 film noir Scarlet Street.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a nice compliment. Thank you very warmed my blood. I suppose the noir in my thought process had to come out some way. I really do admire and have a passion for such a genre. It really is a favourite of mine to watch every so often for the character’s as you so well put them. Edward was so astonishingly smart and witty in the movie. And The Stranger is just another superb movie in the mix of things.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dame! (Or in other words I’d say damn) this is a great review! You really went all crime noir with your words. I love my movies hardboiled occasionally too. This one is a true classic for all the right reasons! Daniel out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why thank you Daniel, for such a great return back to my thoughts. Hardboiled is a great choice to devour with some runny crimed seasonings on the top perhaps. I hope the flying is going smooth sailing as ever. Over and Out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Ma’am! Hard at work as always. It’s tough work so the breaks in between are pretty fufilling but It’s gonna be rewarding in the end when I’m top gun at my job! Wish me luck 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. This is one of the best Noir films. I’ve never read the book, but am desperate to do so. I’m curious to see how Phyllis is more evil in the novel (I didn’t think it was possible for her to get any worse! lol.) Strong characters and a sad ending make this one unforgettable. My heart breaks for Eddie G everytime. I love the friendship between Neff and Keyes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a wonderful and one of my favourite noir movies to watch every so often. Indeed it was a very touching moment to witness, one I cannot express fully without spoilers which I do not want to do. The dynamic between the men worked so well together full of wit and chrisma. Thank you for reading Maddy and liking what I had to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Can’t say I’ve ever even heard of this one but I haven’t watched many Hollywood classics. But how you describe the scenes makes me wanna google thus out. I doubt this is on Netflix in India. Maybe youtube 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you would really like it. Heh no somehow I can’t see this on your Netflix which is a shame. There is always bound to be someone who will trymto copy the movie on there, having failed at the quality and cutting half the screen off! But I do hope you’ll get to see it someday, if it’s one noir classic to start off with, it might aswell be an Indemnity. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If Billy Wilder ever made a bad movie, I don’t know what it is. This is one of his best (though you could say that about a half dozen of his films). As for Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, their versatility is evidenced (as if evidence were necessary) by their pairing four years earlier in a very different kind of movie, the much more sentimental but equally fine (in its own way) film titled REMEMBER THE NIGHT.

    Liked by 1 person

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