Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder, 1944, (9.0*)

AFI Top 100
Wilder's dark, erotic crime film is considered the birth of film noir, or "night film", a crime film using mostly scenes shot at night or in dark interiors, and whose lead character is usually criminal himself. The plot concerns a wife, Barbara Stanwyck, who hires an insurance salesman, Fred McMurray in an abrupt career defying role, to kill her husband for the insurance, double the amount if its an accident. Of course, the two set off sparks onscreen, and the implication, done through smoking after just a kiss, is that they are having an adulterous affair as well. McMurray took a part turned down by more famous actors, who didn't want to play a homicidal adulterer onscreen, while Fred saw a chance to escape typecasting.

Edward G. Robinson was also persuaded to take a rare supporting role, as an insurance investigator in McMurray's company, likely due to the strength of the script, by Wilder and pulp novel author Raymond Chandler, hired for his underworld dialogue. The two mixed like oil and water, as Chandler was an introverted alcoholic, while Wilder was an extrovert who needed people. He later penned The Lost Weekend as a critique of Chandler's lifestyle. Robinson nearly steals the movie, this would have been an excellent chance for the motion picture academy to have awarded him a supporting actor nomination at least, as he was never once nominated for an Oscar®.
7 Oscar® nominations, no wins

Quote: That's some ankle bracelet. [after one of the greatest entrances in cinema history]

Wilder is one of the great directors, here's a small list of his best films:
The Front Page, Sunset Boulevard, Lost Weekend, The Spirit of St. Louis, One Two Three, Ace in the Hole, The Seven Year Itch, Sabrina, The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Witness For the Prosecution, The Fortune Cookie.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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