Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Double Indemnity: Second Viewing

I didn't quite have the time before my first class to watch Double Indemnity (1944) two more times, but was lucky enough to be able watch it once in an interactive manner. By which I mean, I took notes while I watched. I sometimes notetake while watching films. My hands are pretty restless and taking a pen to paper has a tendency to calm me. Also, my mind becomes more alert as I'm actively searching for interesting things to write down. It makes for a more in depth movie experience.

My second viewing of the film was quite interesting. I'd been looking for minutae and subtleties that I may have overlooked during the first go. The language, lighting and plethora of staircases all stood out to me. Part of me wonders how much of what I get out of a film is what I am searching for (either consciously or subconsciously) and what the filmmakers put into it for the viewers to find. Here are some things that I discovered in my second viewing.

  1. Robert Osborne -Any movie benefits from a Robert Osborne introduction. Always impeccably dressed, he welcomes you into the movie with fun facts and quips. If your lucky, he will tell you a particular scene or image to look out for. And am I the only one that thinks that loft-style studio is beautiful. Could I move in? I think Osborne should introduce every DVD, no matter what the film.

  2. Edith Head - I didn't notice this the first time around, but caught her name in the opening credits. No wonder Barbara Stanwyck looks so stunning! The amazingly talented Edith Head dressed her. I wonder if she dressed the men? If so, I've got a few complaints. The main one being that Fred MacMurray's suits seem to hang on him while Edward G. Robinson seems to be bursting out of his.

  3. Film Noir Language - "Dame" "Hot Potato" "Outfit" "Dimwitted" "Song and Dance", this movie is chock full of colloquialisms. Yet what I find so intriguing is the wit and banter and the heavy heavy flirting! I wonder how much of the intricately sexy language was a result of passing this film through the codes. Did the language have to be clever to convey all the sex that had to be censored?

  4. Linear and Square - It's "straight down the line" until they get to the "end of the line." The plot movement is very linear. The sequence of events pertaining to the crime seem to happen back to back like a line of dominoes and the uncovering of the crime by Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) seems to happen in the same sequence as the crime does, it's just one step behind. Everything falls apart when Fred MacMurray's character breaks that line. The square element is the romantic entanglement which is at the heart of the story. Phyllis - > Walter - > Lola -> Nino. I could call it a circle, but this is film noir! It's all about the harsh angles.

  5. Fire - Did anyone notice Fred MacMurray's amazing ability to light a match with his thumb? I found this oddly sexy. As though he was so pumped up with testosterone and adrenaline that he thought nothing of potentially burning his thumb with the match. It was just a faster way to light a cigarette.


  1. I'd bet the house that the ill-fitting men's duds can be attributed to character dressing. Barton Keyes cares about nothing but his job, and Neff, though obviously an operator, doesn't appear to be the type to worry much about his clothing.

    Did you notice the framed boxing prints above Walter's sofa? I've always thought that was a nice character touch, also.

  2. Hey there!

    Your right. The ill-fitted suits did match their characters. Stanwyck's character dressed to seduce which is probably why her wardrobe is amazing.

    Yes! I did notice the boxing prints. Usually apartments in classic films, especially film noirs, are so bare! I loved the fact that his place had a theme going with those prints.


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