Starring; Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Director: Billy Wilder
Running Time: 107 mins
Double Indemnity is an American film about an insurance lawyer who becomes embroiled in an insurance fraud scheme with a wealthy Los Angeles woman, sparking the suspicions of his coworkers when the claim is brought to their attention.
This is a fantastically enthralling thriller from start to finish, and encompasses some of the most powerful aspects of film-noir in brilliant fashion. Apart from Billy Wilder’s expertly atmospheric directing, the story features an incredible femme fatale in Barbara Stanwyck, along with excellent pacing and clever twists and turns throughout that make this a lot more unpredictable than your average crime thriller.
One thing that I really loved about Double Indemnity was how well the whole film is paced. The screenplay is expertly written, and allows for so much to happen over the course of the film, making for brilliant unpredictability at every moment as you try to really understand who’s up to what and for what gain, which was what made the film so enthralling in the end.
Billy Wilder also does a fantastic job at building tension throughout. Along with the screenplay, Wilder allows for darkness to creep into the story ever so slightly as the film builds and builds towards its final act. I’m not going to say that the film has an explosive opening, but when it builds to such a thrilling conclusion in such style, that’s nowhere near as important.
Wilder’s style is also brilliant throughout. Playing with the best elements of film-noir at the height of the genre’s popularity, we get a fantastically dark and moody film that uses its atmosphere alone to build even more tension and unpredictability into the story as it progresses, whilst also cementing itself as a true classic of noir from a modern perspective.
The story and directing are thrilling from start to finish in Double Indemnity, and make for what is probably the most exciting film about insurance of all time. However, there was one truly outstanding part of this film for me, and that was Barbara Stanwyck’s performance.
Playing alongside Fred MacMurray, who puts in a very solid performance, Stanwyck is absolutely stunning as the femme fatale who MacMurray becomes involved with. From the first moment we and our main man see her, she’s got both a hugely appealing yet terrifying confidence to her. Although she often puts on a damsel in distress persona in the early stages to woo her future partner in crime, Stanwyck’s mesmerising performance tells you everything you need to know about her character, whilst still retaining a thrilling mystery and danger that adds to the overall film’s suspense.
Overall, I thought Double Indemnity was a great film. Enthralling at every moment, with an expertly-written screenplay and fantastic directing from Billy Wilder, not to mention Barbara Stanwyck’s thrilling performance, I was gripped from start to finish, and that’s why Double Indemnity gets an 8.1 from me.