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Double Indemnity (1944) - Blu-ray Review

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Double Indemnity (1944)

Los Angeles after dark is always an exciting place.  

Whether it be out on the street or gazing out the window of your home, the air of unpredictability is always lurking about in the air.  And it is that unpredictability which opens director Billy Wilder’s film noir classic, Double Indemnity as a car burns rubber speeding through the city and ignoring traffic signals.  Danger and urgency fuel this vehicle and, as it is driven by a previously unsuspecting insurance salesman, anything is possible.

"a towering GIANT in the genre of film noir flicks and for good reason.  Everything about this film is a sizzling masterpiece of tension, suspense, and seduction"


Because Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray, My Three Sons) knows better . . . and now Double Indemnity serves as his confession for murder.  Throwing it all away for a beautiful woman?  Guilty.  Murder?  Guilty, too.  Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) is the femme fatale and she’s got his number from the get-go.  

It was a hot afternoon when they first met.  It was over a quick discussion concerning accident insurance and, with words like “baby” hanging in the air, the seed of Dietrichson’s plan to get someone - anyone - to murder her husband have already been planted.  Neff can think of nothing else but being with her.  Their flirtation, while harmless, is so effortless that even we fall under her spell.Double Indemnity (1944)

But Neff’s business partner, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), is having none of it and, as waxes poetic about the anklet on Dietrichson’s leg, he is busy putting all the pieces together as this fraudulent claim takes out his closest friend.  

Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, is a towering GIANT in the genre of film noir flicks and for good reason.  Everything about this film is a sizzling masterpiece of tension, suspense, and seduction as Neff finds himself falling for all of Dietrichson’s charm and evil.  And, after getting his mind twisted, finds himself staring into the falling raindrops as her red, hot poker is still firmly in hand.

Film Noir, as a genre in film, stems from the assault of way too many “Happy Endings” in Hollywood.  It’s a natural response full of pessimism and fatalism and, as a result, it butters this reviewer’s bread.  For about a decade, writers and directors could see that audiences weren’t interested in fairy tales anymore.  There was too much poverty; too much death and destruction; too many wars.  And the push to urban life had created an economic disparity that lingered long after any romantic ending did.  

People needed the darkness to be acknowledged and, from 1944 to 1955, it was cinema’s prime celebrity as highly cinematographic films - cheaply made - fell onto the rain-soaked streets of Home Town, USA.  And Double Indemnity is the REEL CLASSIC among them.

The celebrated film is now on blu-ray, digitally remastered and fully restored from the original 35mm film elements, thanks to Universal.

5/5 stars

Double Indemnity (1944)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- October 16, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; Spanish: DTS 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck star in the gripping film noir classic Double Indemnity, directed by Academy Award winner Billy Wilder. A calculating wife (Stanwyck) encourages her wealthy husband to sign a double indemnity policy proposed by smitten insurance agent Walter Neff (MacMurray). As the would-be lovers plot the unsuspecting husband's murder, they are pursued by a suspicious claims manager (Edward G. Robinson). It's a race against time to get away with the perfect crime in this suspenseful masterpiece that was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white transfer, Double Indemnity lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Universal Pictures.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  Beads of sweat are visible, wet city streets, textures in clothing, and even the dirt in the pavement is all visible with fine textures throughout.

Audio:

Bang! Bang! Bang!  Shots are fired on the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film noir flick.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries included with this release and both of them are wonderful.  One is from Film Historian Richard Schickel and the other with Film Historian/Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman.

Special Features:

Fans get a new introduction to the film from Robert Osborne, a look at the film as a masterpiece (which it is), and a full-length feature film based on the classic itself.

  • Introduction by Robert Osborne
  • Shadows of Suspense
  • Double Indemnity (1973) TV Movie
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Double Indemnity (1944)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
107 mins
Director
: Billy Wilder
Writer:
Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler
Cast:
Stanley Shapiro; Paul Henning; Dale Launer; Jac Schaeffer
Genre
: Drama | Crime | Film-noir
Tagline:
IT'S LOVE AND MURDER AT FIRST SIGHT!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money - and a woman - and I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 6, 1944
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 16, 2018.
Synopsis: An insurance representative lets himself be talked by a seductive housewife into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses the suspicion of an insurance investigator.

Double Indemnity (1944)

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