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Author Topic: Double Indemnity (1944)  (Read 2752 times)
dave jenkins
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« on: January 29, 2014, 06:34:28 AM »

U.S. Blu-ray press release
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Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) and Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) to Blu-ray this Spring. The former arrives via a 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray/UltraViolet combo pack, while the latter arrives via a Limited Edition BD/UV combo. Both highly anticipated catalog classics make their Blu-ray debuts on April 15th.

Double Indemnity

Synopsis: 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 seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Double Indemnity is presented in 1080p with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track. Special features include:
•Introduction by Robert Osborne
•Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel
•Commentary with Film Historian/Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman
•Shadows of Suspense Documentary
•Double Indemnity (1973) TV Movie
•Theatrical Trailer

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 08:04:16 PM »

How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?

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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2014, 12:57:40 AM »

I got the BRD.

In addition to all those bonus features on the disc that DJ mentioned above, there is a nice physical-item bonus as well: there is an envelope with 5 cards in it (size: 6.5 inches X 5 inches). There is a reproduction of the U.S. theatrical poster; 3 U.S. lobby card reproductions, and a black-and-white still photo from the original gas-chamber ending scene.

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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2014, 07:23:36 PM »

one of the bonus features is a 73-minute TV-movie remake of Double Indemnity, with Richard Crenna, Smantha Eggar, and Lee J. Cobb, in 1973 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070000/
According to one of the people interviewed on another bonus feature, story goes that the night this TV movie aired, as soon as it was over, Billy Wilder calls Barbara Stanwyck, she says hello, and he says, "Missy, they didn't do it right."
I decided to watch it for the hell of it; I had zero expectations that it would be any good, and, sad to relate, I was right. I knew there was no chance it would be as good as the original or anything close to it – really, why the hell would you remake one of the great movies of all time? – but still, there is the possibility to make it so that there is something to enjoy, like an individual performance or whatever. But there really is nothing to enjoy here.
The one good thing I could say about it is that this TV movie has terrific image quality, which means they must have done a serious restoration of it for this BRD release, even though it's just a bonus feature. That is definitely to Universal's credit.
Nedless to say, when watching this movie, I am (at least subconsciously) comparing to the original, so it's a very unlikely I'd like anything here - and I didn't.
I can't remember seeing Eggar anywhere before, but Crenna and Cobb are actors who are generally good, but here none of them offer anything special whatsoever. Crenna reads the confession like straight, with almost no emotion; even though he is shot (right through the left side of the chest - now ay he'd be alive!) he walks normally to his desk, speaks without difficulty; only in the very last scene does he finally look to actually be speaking with the sort of difficulty/pain that MacMurray showed throughout the movie. He says some lines straight, with no emotion; same for Eggar; sometimes it seems as if they think acting means simply reading lines off a paper. Eggar is certainly not pretty, but far better-looking than Stanwyck (not that high a bar), and I am not a very big fan of Stanwyck as an actress either; but Eggar here does nothing special. Cobb spaks slowly like an old man - maybe the actors were consciously using different speaking/acting styles than in the original, so as not to be seen as copycats. But it's no good. On its own, maybe Cobb's performance would be decent as Keyes; but compared to Robinson's - well, it's no comparison. The girl who played Lola is decent, though Lola's role is much shorter than in the movie.
This TV movie is in color, but there is no attempt to make it a neo-noir. None of the noir visuals that we associate with Double Indemnity.
The women – Phyllis and Lola – wear these awful huge 1970's pants, which are as unsexy as women's clothing can get.
I literally can't think of one thing – performance, dialogue, visual, music, anything at all – in which this remake gives you anything better than the original. The exception is that Stanwyck is ugly as sin whereas Eggar is merely nothing special. If you are like a little kid who simply always prefers to color to black-and-white, maybe. Otherwise, there is nothing.
So ... this bonus feature may be interesting as a curiosity and nothing more – kinda like if they put the butchered version of OUATIA as a bonus feature on the BRD. If you do actually watch the whole thing beginning to end once, you'll certainly never do it twice.
Bottom line: If you are gonna spend an evening with Walter Neff, Phyllis Dietrichson, Barton Keyes, et al., you're gonna go with the original, every time  Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2014, 07:32:31 PM »

DJ, do you own either of the BRD's, the Masters of Cinema Region B or the Universal?

I have the Universal, I am looking at Beaver's screencap comparisons between the BRD's
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdreviews15/double_indemnity_dvd_review.htm

if these screencaps and beaver's writing are to be trusted as accurate, looks like there are big differences between the two. As beaver says, the MoC looks like it has much more grain, the Universal looks much darker, and there is significant shifting within the frame: e.g., in some screencaps, the Universal has more information on the left of the frame, wheras the MoC has more on top and on the right, and the bottom is about the same. It's not like you can consistently say one version or the other has more info; it depends which shot and which side of teh frame you are talking about. Weird.

I just watched a few minutes of the movie itself on the BRD, but I noticed – specifically, it was on the day that Neff first drives out to the Dietrichson home to renew their auto-insurance policies – that there is no grain there.

BTW, I noticed that sometimes, when discussing image quality, Beaver will say something about "waxiness" – can someone please enlighten this ignoramous as to what the word "waxiness" means in this context? Thanks  Wink

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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2014, 10:02:50 AM »

DJ, do you own either of the BRD's, the Masters of Cinema Region B or the Universal?

MoC, because it was released as a steelbook.

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I just watched a few minutes of the movie itself on the BRD, but I noticed – specifically, it was on the day that Neff first drives out to the Dietrichson home to renew their auto-insurance policies – that there is no grain there.
Hard to believe. Are you sure the grain just isn't very noticeable?

Quote
BTW, I noticed that sometimes, when discussing image quality, Beaver will say something about "waxiness" – can someone please enlighten this ignoramous as to what the word "waxiness" means in this context? Thanks  Wink
Lacking detail.

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2014, 04:47:48 PM »

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/what-wilder-did-to-brackett/

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2016, 04:14:00 AM »

What I don't like about this movie? Only MacMurray calling "baby" Stanwick. Can't remember if it was in the novel (and I don't remember if I still have it: if I gave it away I was stupid as it was one of those beautiful strip sized army forces edition). I also wondered where that idea of the lighting up of cigar came from. And I don't want to see the alternative finale.

The greatest mystery about the movie is the cameo of Chandler in the movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN9THMXxndw

If it's really him a wonder he never mentioned it in his letters and Wilder himself never mentioned it in the interviews.

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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2016, 06:20:39 PM »

I've re-read the novel (I hadn't given it away). The end is completely different. Walter plans to kill Phyllis and gives her a date in an isolated  place but she beats him to it and shoots him. He is saved by Lola and her fiancé (who was on Phyllis track because she had ruined his father's reputation as a doctor by killing some children under his care!). When Walter regains consciousness in the hospital, he confesses his misdeeds to Keyes to save Lola, who might take the rap, with whom he has fallen in love. Keyes has a notary take Walter's confession and arranges things as to let him escape abroad. On the liner Walter meets again Phyllis and then maybe he will marry her and then kill her and himself by a plunge into the ocean where a shark is waiting for them or they will be arrested as they put into Mexico.
So Chandler, of all people, had to make simpler a convoluted story!
And there's no "baby" anywhere in the text.

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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2016, 06:33:28 PM »

I'm crazy about this movie, baby.

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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2016, 07:33:48 PM »

Right down the line, baby.

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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2017, 04:25:55 PM »

I've seen this film probably about 10 times or so, and I love it each time.

Last time I saw it (about a week or two ago), it struck me that the two criminals here came up with an absolutely stupid plan.

Basically they thought that the insurance company would believe that the victim fell off the train and was killed that way, but at the same time, the salesman had no problems with jumping off the train, without worrying that he himself might get killed? Oy. No wonder they got caught so quickly! The salesguy should have known better than to try to outsmart a guy like Keyes (Robinson).

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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2017, 04:57:25 PM »

There's a difference between falling off a train and jumping. When jumping you know what's happening and you can prepare for the landing. When falling you may not even know what happened before you land. And if you land on your head, that's it, baby! Just ask Dr. Atkins, of the Atkins Diet fame. He might have lived forever except for some ice beneath his feet. Humans are delicate instruments indeed.

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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2017, 06:21:33 PM »

dj is correct

 The theory was that the guy got tangled up in his crutches or something and fell off the train. When  you are not expecting it, you can easily hit your head on the track and die, even from a minor fall

 There was a very tragic story in New York recently, a  doorman was shoveling snow off a few basement steps. He slipped on the steps, crashed into a glass window which cut his neck and he died.

When you are not expecting it, crazy shit can happen. ( that should be a promo for noir  Wink )

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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2017, 07:27:27 PM »

So basically there are two theories:

1. A person can die when falling off a train by accident. In that case, the salesguy was putting himself at risk because he had never jumped off a train before (or so I'm assuming) and he couldn't have known the dangers of doing this, even when the train was going at a slow speed.

2. As Keyes said, it would be pretty much impossible for someone to die by falling off the train, with the train going at such a slow speed. In that case, the plan couldn't possibly work (and it didn't).

In other words, either the salesguy's life would have been over when he jumped, or it would have been over when he was sent to the chair.

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