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How important was Edward G. Robinson in the success of DOUBLE INDEMNITY?


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TomH: Thank you for this very vivid description of that lost alternate scene. I can play it back in my mind and graft it onto the movie in a way I can accept. So can anybody else who wanted to and I'm certain most would imagine it differently from me. The rest can let the movie stand as it is.

 

That said, I kind of think having Walter die of his wound, which would be off-screen, is justice in a way. His life is over at the hands of the person who began the whole mess and he let suck him into it as he ended hers. This is what makes it a good film; you can use your head and draw your own conclusions.

 

As for the topic of the thread, I can't picture anybody else in this role but Mr. Robinson. In fact, I saw the TV version, which was a word-for-word remake of this one, and don't remember Lee J. Cobb at all. (Richard Crenna and Samantha Eggar were "Walter" and "Phyllis"). He was so much more than a movie gangster as Chazz Palmenteri points out in his tribute and this lets him prove it.

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Here's how good Edward G. Robinson was.

 

In my opinion, he dominates both Steve McQueen and Humphrey Bogart, in "Cincinatti Kid' and "Key Largo". These were two men who were almost impossible to dominate on the big screen, especially considering how big a stars they were at the time those two films were made.

 

Didn't matter whether Robinson was playing a loud, boisterous gangster, or a laid back card player. He has incredible screen presence at any point in his career.

 

Double Indemnity was the same way, although I think all three leads made that film special, along with a great script.

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> {quote:title=JefCostello wrote:}{quote}Here's how good Edward G. Robinson was.

>

> In my opinion, he dominates both Steve McQueen and Humphrey Bogart, in "Cincinatti Kid' and "Key Largo". These were two men who were almost impossible to dominate on the big screen, especially considering how big a stars they were at the time those two films were made.

>

> Didn't matter whether Robinson was playing a loud, boisterous gangster, or a laid back card player. He has incredible screen presence at any point in his career.

>

> Double Indemnity was the same way, although I think all three leads made that film special, along with a great script.

>

Jef, I LOVED so much how well you expressed Eddie G's impact on just about any film he's involved in on screen. He had an incredible screen presence, and I just had to say how much I appreciated what you shared here!! Eddie could do it all and do it all with nearly incomparable flair!

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I'm still amazed in reading what clore had mentioned a while back:

 

*Not only didn't he get a nomination for this, but he never got one for any film that he made. He also didn't live to receive an honorary Oscar awarded in 1973.*

 

That's a shame!

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If I am not mistaken, I think Robinson knew about the honorary Oscar that was planned for him. He was very ill at that time and had just finished making SOYLENT GREEN, which would be his last film and contain one of his best late-career performances. He went out on top, and he knew that Hollywood and the fans loved him. That is what is important here.

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Ah yes, TB. To this very day, when I hear Ludwig's 6th "Pastoral" Symphony, I'll occasionally think of Eddie and how well he performed his "swan song" during that otherwise less-than-memorable movie.

 

 

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}I think he was very very important in this film. Without this character and this specific actor, I think this film would have been dull.

>

> I think he should have received an Academy Award nomination for this film. This movie received 7 Academy nominations, but none for Robinson.

I disagree. Not that he wasn't a great actor. He was. But you're talking about a well-honed, well-crafted screenplay (which is the biggest ingredient in this movie's success) with hundreds of top-of-the-line craftsmen in which Robinson is merely one of them. Any number of actors could've played the part & it wouldn't have noticeably diminished it (imho). But the reality is, it's all speculation cause there's no way of answering your question.

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> {quote:title=EugeniaH wrote:}{quote}I'm still amazed in reading what clore had mentioned a while back:

>

> *Not only didn't he get a nomination for this, but he never got one for any film that he made. He also didn't live to receive an honorary Oscar awarded in 1973.*

>

> That's a shame!

I agree 100%!!!

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Well BFSR, I'm not disagreeing with you here, but considering that kind of role back then would usually have gone to somebody like Wendell Corey or say Leon Ames, both fairly decent actors I might add, though in some regard could be considered rather "bland", I STILL think Eddie G gave a performance that wouldn't and couldn't have been bettered, or maybe even have come close to his by another actor usually associated with that kind of role.

 

(...he just breathes life into it somehow, that's all)

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Good point, Eugenia. I also think the contrasting physicality of the two men perhaps DOES help give the audience a subliminal feeling of the contrasting personality types in question, also.

 

(...kinda like "the little bull dog vs the long slithering snake" scenario kinda thing, I suppose)

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> {quote:title=Dargo2 wrote:}{quote}Well BFSR, I'm not disagreeing with you here, but considering that kind of role back then would usually have gone to somebody like Wendell Corey or say Leon Ames, both fairly decent actors I might add, though in some regard could be considered rather "bland", I STILL think Eddie G gave a performance that wouldn't and couldn't have been bettered, or maybe even have come close to his by another actor usually associated with that kind of role.

>

> (...he just breathes life into it somehow, that's all)

I'm not saying he wasn't great in it. He was. And if he'd won an Oscar, I wouldn't have a problem with that. It's just Fred implied this movie wouldn't have worked without him, which I disagree with. There's just too much talent involved BESIDES just Robinson.

 

Plus I think people make the mistake of confusing a good actor with a good, well-written part (not saying you or Fred are doing that). People decide they like an actor but what they're really responding to has as much to do with how the character was written & how s/he fits into the story. And actors are interchangeable in many cases (especially leading roles believe it or not). But in all fairness to Fred, he didn't just mention Robinson. He also mentioned Robinson's character as being important. So let's just say we're all right. :x

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I agree with Sepiatone. Folks are so used to seeing Eddie in that movie,

and he does a fine job in the role, that they can't imagine anyone else

doing it, which is true of a lot of roles. But I think someone else could

have been just as effective and then people would say they couldn't

imagine any other actor than X playing that role. I think Charles Laughton

could have done pretty good in the part. And if one wanted to play it as

a comedy, Franklin Pangborn. Too bad EGR never got an Oscar nomi,

but he'll always have the art collection.

 

I love it that old Walter has a possibly fatal bullet wound, but before he

starts recording his confession, he's just got to have another coffin nail.

 

Einstein was pretty popular with the ladies for a time, but his your time and

space or mine pick-up line got stale fairly quickly.

 

 

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This film is definitely on my favorites list. I have it on DVD, and yet whenever I happen to see it on the tube (almost always on TCM), I can't tear my self away, I have to watch it to the end. This film is just "another" EGR film performance, which is to say it is terrific. Has this man ever done a performance that isn't terrific? All due respect to the 2 leads, who both were great in their roles, but I would say that Eddie would be the last one I would consider a substitute for. That being said I do believe that some other actor could have played Keyes well, but I am spoiled after seeing Eddie do it. When some people consider Robinson a supporting player in the film (if you measure out screen time), I don't. From the moment we meet his character and he defines himself his presence is always right there lurking behind Neff's every move. At any moment he may appear, like at Neff's apartment right after their office meeting with the boss. So Eddie is "there" even when he physically isn't there. A lot of that is the power of Robinson's performance. This man should have had a trophy room full of Oscars, or at least nominations.

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I agree with your assessment, especially about EGR being there, even when he isn't... He is the catalyst that produces the reactions. Sure, other actors could have played the part, and it could still have been a good film. But, I can't imagine anyone doing as well with it as EGR, with his reserve, and doggedness, producing just the right effect.

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I disagree, slightly.

 

 

Ames could handle comedy OK. HIS strength in that medium was as straight man, though. With Corey however, you're on the money.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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In the film that is showing now, THE WHOLE TOWN IS TALKING, Robinson does an excellent job playing two different roles as look-alikes. One a meek guy, and the other a dangerous criminal.

 

This is one of his best acting jobs and the best "twin" or look-alike film I've ever seen. He should have received another Academy Award nomination for this film too.

 

This film was excently directed by John Ford.

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How important was Miklos Rozsa? I just saw *Detective Story* and the ending music comes right out of that final cigarette scene here. I couldn't believe it as the "hero" is also lying shot on the floor-anything else said would be a spoiler. I love music scores and little surprises like this a real treats.

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>How important was Miklos Rozsa?

 

His score was fantastic all throughout DOUBLE INDEMNITY !

 

 

 

Best line in the movie:

 

"I did it for the money and a woman.... I didn't get the money, and I didn't get the woman."

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It's funny ... and maybe it's also the curse of the great character actor ... whenever I see TCM is going to air DOUBLE INDEMNITY, pretty much all I will remember about the movie from my previous viewings (I've seen it at least eight or 10 times, but it's usually a year or two between each viewing) is Stanwyck and MacMurray and the very dangerous dance through which they go. I will barely remember Edward G. was even in the thing. But then whenever I watch it, he always instantly becomes my favorite thing about the film.

 

Now, granted, I suppose any competent actor would have sounded good with all that amazing Billy Wilder/Raymond Chandler dialogue. I remember a critic once saying something similar about PULP FICTION - John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis might not have been anybody's top choice from Dream Cast of 1994, but they all sounded great getting to spout all that Quentin Tarantino dialogue. But Robinson brings something else to the table. Apologies to Wendell Corey, but I shudder to think how uninteresting that character would have been if he had played it. I mean, whoever raves about how interesting Jimmy Stewart's detective buddy was in REAR WINDOW?

 

To me, the real "love" story, if you will, in this movie is the borderline fasther-son relationship between Robinson and MacMurray. MacMurray even says "I love you" twice to Robinson, playfully early on in the film and then with a lot more gravitas at the very end, when he's either about to die right there in his office or at some not too distant date in the electric chair.

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