Double Indemnity

 (3,181)
8.31 h 47 min1944X-Ray7+
Oscar winner Billy Wilder directs Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in this gripping film noir about a calculating wife, a smitten insurance agent and an unsuspecting husband.
Directors
Billy Wilder
Starring
Fred MacMurrayBarbara StanwyckEdward G. Robinson
Genres
SuspenseDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.
Add to Watchlist
Add to
Watchlist
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Amazon.com Services LLC.
Write review

Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

3181 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

joel wingReviewed in the United States on March 5, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
THE best Film Noir ever!
Verified purchase
Double Indemnity THE greatest Film Noir of all time. The movie has some of the famed tropes of the genre but also bucks others. The story is about Walter Neff played by Fred MacMurray an insurance man in Los Angeles who plots with Phyllis Dietrichson played by Barbara Stanwyck to kill her husband. The movie was based upon a book by crime novelist James Cain but was extensively re-written with the help of Raymond Chandler another purveyor of the hard-boiled detective style.

The movie begins with Neff recanting his tale of murder and betrayal to his boss Barton Keyes played by Edward Robinson. Neff thought he’d gotten away with the perfect crime of killing Mr. Dietrichson, but then everything unraveled. The doomed man up against the odds is a mainstay of Noir. The movie however also breaks some of those standards. For example Phyllis is not a femme fatale as many would think. When Neff first meets her she’s just gotten out of the shower and walks down the stairs to the front door and Neff can’t stop thinking about the bracelet on her ankle. If it was all about her sexiness that got Neff to take out her husband than this would have followed that trope about women in Noir. However it’s not the seduction that draws them together. Instead it’s the fact that the two are grifters, conmen out to buck the system by killing Mr. Dietrichson so they can collect the insurance money, which pays double on certain deaths, hence the title of the movie Double Indemnity. Another way the film breaks the genre is that when Neff realizes the game is up and he’s about to die he doesn’t go to Phyllis to bear his soul but rather Keyes who was like a father figure to Neff. It was about trying to beat Keyes as much the money that led Neff towards the insurance scam-murder.

Double Indemnity also has some of the best Film Noir dialogue ever recorded. That was due to the writing chops of Ramond Chandler. There are so many great exchanges that my friend I originally memorized several of them after we first saw the film. That just adds another gem onto this already great film.

The Academy of Motion Pictures agreed on how great Double Indemnity was when it came out nominating it for 7 Academy Awards. It didn’t win any, but that showed how much of an impact it had and it still does today.

This version of the film comes with an introduction by Robert Osborne who used to be the host on Turner Classic Movies channel.
22 people found this helpful
AthenaReviewed in the United States on August 1, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
An old thriller with great writing, directing and acting.
Verified purchase
The picture and sound quality is excellent. My first copy looked like it was an 8mm transfer. This one looks like a 35m transfer. The quality is not as good as today's movies, but none of the old movies look like today's, and none of today's come anywhere near the quality of Billy Wilder's work, so what's to do? The writing is by Raymond Chandler, the American master of hard-boiled detective fiction, as well as by Billy Wilder, who made some of the best movies from that time period and who created this one.

What it's about: "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? I was thinking about that dame upstairs, and the way she had looked at me, and I wanted to see her again, close, without that silly staircase between us." But it isn't just about a woman and a man: "Know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes? I'll tell ya. 'Cause the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya."

But Keyes knew the game better than Walter realized, as he showed him before he knew it was him, when he said, "It's beginning to come apart at the seams already. Murder's never perfect. Always comes apart sooner or later, and when two people are involved it's usually sooner. Now we know the Dietrichson dame is in it and a somebody else. Pretty soon, we'll know who that somebody else is. Sometime, somewhere, they've got to meet. Their emotions are all kicked up. Whether it's love or hate doesn't matter; they can't keep away from each other. They may think it's twice as safe because there's two of them, but it isn't twice as safe. It's ten times twice as dangerous. And it's not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different stops. They're stuck with each other and they got to ride all the way to the end of the line and it's a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery."
17 people found this helpful
DTLReviewed in the United States on July 3, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Wilder film.
Verified purchase
I bought this film in 2010 and finally found the time to view it eight years later. I was never much of a fan of any of them but I liked Wilder's work and promised myself to see what all the fuss was about. It was impressive. And it goes to prove the that the right director makes a difference. My bias towards Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck quickly diminished and I forgot all about their TV series once the film began with MacMurray racing to the office in the opening scene after he killed Stanwyck, his partner in the crime. I was a bit concerned how Wilder would use Robinson but from the opening scene it was apparent that it was MacMurray's story and Wilder put the story on a nice steady pace. Wilder and Raymond Chandler both wrote the transcript. So the story would be good. When MacMurray starts the dictaphone to record his confession to Robinson the story focuses on three things. How did I get into this mess? When did things go sour? How he planned to end it? And the surprise waiting for him that night when she planned to kill him. The acting, writing and directing all fell into place.
11 people found this helpful
Todd7Reviewed in the United States on February 4, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Double Good
Verified purchase
Double Indemnity (1944) is the perfect film noir, filled with deception, crime, forbidden love, and suspense. In the classic black and white aesthetic, it goes further and turns up the darkness. This film has the perfect cast, with characters who are very believable in their respective roles. This blu ray is a respectable print for an old film, and doesn't have the sound fluctuations that seem to be common with blu rays. This is a quality blu ray experience with lots of special features to entertain for hours, including the Double Indemnity TV movie from 1973. Another neat thing is the inclusion of 1 U.S. Theatrical Poster Reproduction, 3 U.S. Lobby Card Reproductions, and 1 Alternate Ending Still. Overall, this blu ray is essential for those who love film noir, or classic movies in general.
21 people found this helpful
Matthew D'SouzaReviewed in the United States on July 16, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
When Women Kill
Verified purchase
Intrigue and murder for insurance have never been so enthralling.

Billy Wilder’s film noir Double Indemnity (1944) has you wondering what happened when a life insurance agent aided a wife in plotting her husband’s murder. Wilder’s direction is snappy and doesn’t waste a moment of Double Indemnity 108 minutes. I’m used to Billy Wilder’s pleasant comedies such as Some Like It Hot or Sabrina. However, Wilder’s film noir style is perfect for Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity.

Barbara Stanwyck is drop dead gorgeous as the iconic femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson. Her manipulation of Fred MacMurray’s gullible insurance salesman is a delight to watch. MacMurray is great at displaying guilt and feeling cautiously nervous about Stanwyck’s sinister scheme. You see her every intention on screen, while the fallout of her radioactive behavior cascades down everywhere as people are shot, men are strangled, and lives are ruined. Stanwyck’s magnetic charisma, flirty charm, and serious noir sultry flair are captivating in Double Indemnity. You can tell how Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity was an influence on Gene Tierney for Leave Her to Heaven, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and even Kim Basinger in Wayne’s World 2.

I loved seeing Edward G. Robinson’s hard boiled insurance boss Barton Keyes figures out every detail of the story with his paranoid suspicions and lucky hunches. His fast talking, wise cracking, and no nonsense attitude makes Double Indemnity a splendid viewing experience. Jean Heather’s supporting role as Lola Dietrichson was nice as her desperate pleas for belief and understanding are quite moving.

Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain’s writing is thoughtful and has worked out every detail and mistake in this crime thriller scheme, so that the mystery of what went wrong is always interesting for the viewer. Wilder’s playful and dark direction keeps you guessing, so that once you’ve figured out what has occurred, it’s too late for the protagonist. Double Indemnity is an insurance fraud plot with a complex romance drama narrative mixed into the shadowy world of murder.

Doane Harrison’s editing is slick and cuts down Double Indemnity just to the main plot and scandalous intrigue, so the film never drags. John F. Seitz’ cinematography is moody with these grim looking wide shots and splendorous close-ups of the stars. Miklos Rosza’s score is steamy with a sizzling romantic score and unnerving noir mystique to his dramatic pulses. Edith Head’s dresses are lovely on Barbara Stanwyck with that chic 1940’s style. Wally Westmore’s make-up does Stanwyck up in full glamour.

In all, I loved Double Indemnity. Wilder hooked me on the near private detective aspect of insurance claims agents discovering the nefarious deeds of insurance holders who are willing to commit murder and fraud for financial gain.
LanaReviewed in the United States on July 9, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is Billy Wilder's suspenseful film noir masterpiece.
Verified purchase
This 1944 film noir classic was directed by Billy Wilder, written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. The film was nominated for 7 Academy Awards. It stars Fred Mac Murray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.

A scheming wife (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces an insurance agent's (Fred Mac Murray) help to trick her wealthy husband into signing a double indemnity policy. Then, in this exciting film, they try to get away with the perfect murder, as close behind them, they are pursued by a suspicious claims manager (Edward G. Robinson).

Initially, Fred Mac Murray hesitated when cast as Walter Neff, because he didn't think he was a good enough actor to play this part. Fortunately, for all of us and him (it changed his entire career for the better), Billy Wilder talked him into it. Usually, Edward G. Robinson only took lead roles but took this stellar supporting role. And his presence adds balance to the entire film. He is the conscience of the film. Billy Wilder thought Barbara Stanwyck was perfectly cast. He only wanted one change. A cheap blonde hair-do.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this film. The direction, acting, and writing were suburb. A true pleasure to view.

This DVD had perfect sound and picture. It has Bonus features, and the front and back covers are in English.
One person found this helpful
Tim F. MartinReviewed in the United States on August 30, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Gripping film noir, one of the best ever made
Verified purchase
Gripping film noir in which the two main characters, I hope this is not spoiler, are both villains! I haven’t seen a lot of film noir (working on that!) but this is one of the best ones I have seen. The storyline holds up extremely well and would work quite well in a film that came out today.

The film, set in 1938 Los Angeles (released in 1944 and based on a novella by James M. Cain, written in 1927), revolves around two main characters, insurance agent Walter Neff (played by Fred MacMurray) and a housewife, Phyllis Dietrichson (played by Barbara Stanwyck). Walter goes to Phyllis’ house one day to renew her husband’s auto insurance and the two flirt (more it seemed to me coming from Walter, who didn’t seem to mind at all Phyllis was married). During the visit, in which Phyllis doesn’t seem entirely disinterested in the flirting, she asks Walter about getting a life insurance policy on her husband…without him knowing about it. Knowing from talking to Phyllis in that brief time she doesn’t particularly care for her husband and also as an experienced person in the insurance business why someone might want to insure someone without them knowing (murdering them and committing insurance fraud), Walter declines to sell her the insurance and quickly leaves.

And then decides to contact Phyllis and the two hatch a scheme to murder her husband and get away with it, on a train which pays out a double indemnity (twice as much money as a death from most other situations). Between the two of them, with Walter’s knowledge of the insurance business (and of investigations of deaths that his company will have to pay a claim on) and his impressively cool demeanor (and later we find out as the movie progresses the villainous nature of Phyllis) it looked like the two are going to get away with it…except for Walter’s boss and friend, Barton Keyes (played by Edward G. Robinson), who has a nose for finding insurance fraud and like Columbo keeps going back again and again to investigate the particulars of Mr. Dietrichson’s death. The movies becomes a tangled web of deception and subterfuge as Walter and Phyllis try to hide their relationship, obscure investigations into the “accident,” and it becomes increasingly obvious that other people are now at risk, such as Phyllis’ stepdaughter, who may have incriminating details about Phyllis and reveals some chilling details about Phyllis’ past.

It still I think a relatively rare film where the central characters plan and execute a murder and then have to hide that murder, and what’s more a murder purely for evil, selfish reasons. This seems a very bold film for the 1940s and from what I read after watching the film, was indeed seen as very risky, with many actors passing on the role and the even the two main stars, when they accepted the role, were uncertain if they had made the right choice. Happily, they made the right choice (and later knew it) and we have a great film to watch.

Pacing is great, there is wonderful tension, some action, just first-rate film noir. Everyone is great in film though I especially loved Edward G. Robinson. Nice to see so many slices of life in 1940s Los Angeles, including a supermarket.
One person found this helpful
Dr PretoriusReviewed in the United States on July 21, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
what film noir is all about
Verified purchase
the rat-a-tat dialog, the rich blacks countered by the blinding whites (good vs. evil), the ever revealing plot twists, the wonderful caper (i-don't-know-what-is-really-happening-but-i-will-follow-this-road-to-it's-end-even-if-it-leads-to-my-end, the delicious ubiquitous femme-fetale (i know she's not good for me but i just want at least one more kiss (
and i will break any law to get it) - from billy wilder/raymond chandler's superb scrip, to john f. seitz's crisp cinematography, to the dynamic performances of the leads (stanwick, macmurray, & robinson) this blu-ray version captures and presents in glorious detail what film noir is all about.
4 people found this helpful
See all reviews