26 July 2011

26. DOUBLE INDEMNITY



A framing device: "I killed Dietrichson." Did it for money and for a woman, and didn't end up with either. Like one of his other classics, SUNSET BOULEVARD, Wilder subverted classical cinema conventions by giving away the ending at the beginning and keeping us guessing about how it happened.

The movie begins when MacMurray meets Stanwyck and is instantly smitten. They flirt, talk insurance.

Minute 19 -- she wants life insurance on her husband, reveals a bad marriage. He realizes her ruse, tells her she's bad, knows she wants to kill her husband.

She comes to see him at his place, breaking the unspoken rules. He knew she would, they kiss. She admits he was right: she does want her husband dead. He agrees implicitly. They are deep in it now, point of no return, act 2 begins.

At the act break, we are back to the framing device, the Dictaphone. He continues telling his story:

"You're going to do it and I'm going to help you."

MacMurray explains the concept "double indemnity": there's a double payout on life insurance for certain accidents.

They meet in a grocery, discuss the contract. The plan is off due to a leg injury.

Minute 43 -- Gets offered a "desk job" as a claims man. It's back on -- he'll take the train.

Minute 47 -- Set piece, the murder. VO of all the plans and prep. CU on her face as the murder occurs.

The problems begin -- their getaway car won't start, a harbinger.

"It was the walk of a dead man." -- his boss is suspicious.

Keyes agrees they will have to pay the claim.

Minute 70 -- Keyes comes to visit, his suspicions as Stanwyck is about to arrive -- dramatic irony.

Kid reveals she suspects Stanwyck killed her birth mom too.

Keyes reveals the whole plot, doesn't suspect MacMurray -- man on the platform of the train. MacMurray goes into Keyes' office and finds out who he suspects.

Plans to kill her, revealed in VO. And vice versa.

She shoots him, grazes him. He shoots her back.

He finishes his VO, Keyes arrives, collapses. They share a moment.

This one is also notable for hardboiled dialogue and use of voiceover, the intricate yet economical plot, the foundations of noir tropes, and the overarching idea that lust is as powerful as any drug (especially in a repressed society), and can drive you to murder.

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