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Coming soon to select BIG screens in the US, "Double Indemnity"!


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I thought it "interesting" that Double Indemnity is not on the TCM Darkness schedule.

 

:(

Yes, I considered it a major oversight. But apparently, they had bigger plans in store for it this summer.

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Double Indemnity is one of my favorites; but I find myself recasting the male lead in my mind whenever I watch it.  In Eddie Muller's article "Low Company, High Style: The Eternal Allure of Film Noir", he states that Fred MacMurray is better known for playing the part of Walter Neff, than he is for My Three Sons or Son of Flubber.  Well, perhaps in Mr. Muller's circles that's true, but most people I know remember him as the absent-minded professor. He just doesn't fit the part of Walter Neff to me.  When he calls Barbara Stanwyck "baby" it just doesn't sound right.  So I try to imagine the part being played by someone else, like Dan Duryea, or Dana Andrews, or Robert Ryan.  

 

I would love to see Double Indemnity on the big screen, but not long ago, my wife and I went to see TCM Presents Rear Window on the big screen and it was so bad we got up and left.  I'm kind of leery about getting stung again.

 

I'm enjoying the Summer of Darkness, and hope you are, too!  

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I wish it was playing for this course because I live too far away from any theater showing it on the big screen this summer. It's one of my favorites and actually the first one that got me interested in film noir.

 

Like Filmcreature I think Fred MacMurray is best known for his lighter roles such as The Nutty Professor. In fact when I first read the little blurb on Double Indemnity. I thought "What! The Nutty Professor plots with Victoria Barkley to kill her husband? I have to see that!" This was in my younger years and I had never seen these actors in anything but good guy roles. Unlike Filmcreature though I was very impressed and I sought out other film noir movies ~ and now here I am in this class. :)

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Double Indemnity is one of my favorites; but I find myself recasting the male lead in my mind whenever I watch it.  In Eddie Muller's article "Low Company, High Style: The Eternal Allure of Film Noir", he states that Fred MacMurray is better known for playing the part of Walter Neff, than he is for My Three Sons or Son of Flubber.  Well, perhaps in Mr. Muller's circles that's true, but most people I know remember him as the absent-minded professor. He just doesn't fit the part of Walter Neff to me.  When he calls Barbara Stanwyck "baby" it just doesn't sound right.  So I try to imagine the part being played by someone else, like Dan Duryea, or Dana Andrews, or Robert Ryan.  

 

I would love to see Double Indemnity on the big screen, but not long ago, my wife and I went to see TCM Presents Rear Window on the big screen and it was so bad we got up and left.  I'm kind of leery about getting stung again.

 

I'm enjoying the Summer of Darkness, and hope you are, too!  

 

Well most people in the general public don't know much about studio-era movies.    Those that do know MacMurray as a studio-era actor know him for the noirs he made as well as the very fine 30s comedies he made with Carole Lombard and others.    In fact MacMurray has more screen credits with the vast majority of the most famous actresses of the era than any other actor.   

 

To me MacMurray fits the part of the insurance agent.   The noir actors listed may have been too hardboiled to be an everyday white collar worker.   This type of man deciding to commit murder is key to the plot.  With a guy like Duryea or Ryan the audience would expect him to commit a crime,  right from the start.

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Double Indemnity is one of my favorites; but I find myself recasting the male lead in my mind whenever I watch it. In Eddie Muller's article "Low Company, High Style: The Eternal Allure of Film Noir", he states that Fred MacMurray is better known for playing the part of Walter Neff, than he is for My Three Sons or Son of Flubber. Well, perhaps in Mr. Muller's circles that's true, but most people I know remember him as the absent-minded professor. He just doesn't fit the part of Walter Neff to me. When he calls Barbara Stanwyck "baby" it just doesn't sound right. So I try to imagine the part being played by someone else, like Dan Duryea, or Dana Andrews, or Robert Ryan.

 

I would love to see Double Indemnity on the big screen, but not long ago, my wife and I went to see TCM Presents Rear Window on the big screen and it was so bad we got up and left. I'm kind of leery about getting stung again.

 

I'm enjoying the Summer of Darkness, and hope you are, too!

Rear Window was so bad,or the print they showed?
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Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. What was so bad about it? I wish he'd come back and explain.

Same here.

I've been to showings of classic films at theaters,...and boy does it suck sometimes. All washed out,and blury at times to where I just leave. Like,what's the point?..."We know you've seen the prestine version you've come to expect for free.....but have you seen the poor one on the big screen for $15?" Looooool

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Same here.

I've been to showings of classic films at theaters,...and boy does it suck sometimes. All washed out,and blury at times to where I just leave. Like,what's the point?..."We know you've seen the prestine version,you've come to expect.....

but have you seen the poor one on the big screen?"

The intention is often good, but if the technology isn't great, then it defeats the purpose.

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To me MacMurray fits the part of the insurance agent.   The noir actors listed may have been too hardboiled to be an everyday white collar worker.   This type of man deciding to commit murder is key to the plot.  With a guy like Duryea or Ryan the audience would expect him to commit a crime,  right from the start.

 

The movie starts with a wounded Neff recording the story.  That's a pretty good indication it's not going to end well.  How about Cary Grant as Neff? 

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Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. What was so bad about it? I wish he'd come back and explain.

 

It was as mess.  We arrived early, and the movie didn't start until 45 min after the scheduled start time.  I'm not 100% certain what the media they used, but it looked to me to be streamed video.  There was a very distracting magenta shift, so instead of just Ben Mankiewicz doing the intro, there was Ben and a red sci-fi looking silhouette of Ben doing the intro.  The color shift never went away.  It was less noticeable at times, but the picture was nowhere near as good as our home TV.  On top of that, about every 10 minutes the screen would go completely blank for 4-5 seconds; nothing but black.  The third time that happened, we got up and left. I don't know whether it was the source was bad, the setup was bad, or the equipment was bad.

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The first time I saw "Double Indemnity" I was taken aback by seeing the father in "My Three Sons" as the amoral protagonist. Not Robbie, Chip and Ernie's father! It took a couple times seeing the movie before I got over the MTS sticker shock. That being said, I can't imagine Barbara Stanwyck neutering a traditional movie tough guy (e.g., Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum or James Cagney). Burt Lancaster very early in his career, yes, or Kirk Douglas conveying a sense of recognition and irony. But Walter is as dumb as a box of rocks, and MacMurray caught that personification.

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The movie starts with a wounded Neff recording the story.  That's a pretty good indication it's not going to end well.  How about Cary Grant as Neff? 

 

Yes, we know right from the start Neff is in deep trouble and has committed crimes,  but we don't know the motive.  The flashback is all about explaining what drove this insurance agent who was leading a fairly 'normal' existence to where he was now.    The reason;  the femme fatale.      With another type of actor we may have felt Neff was in the driver seat.   

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It was as mess. We arrived early, and the movie didn't start until 45 min after the scheduled start time. I'm not 100% certain what the media they used, but it looked to me to be streamed video. There was a very distracting magenta shift, so instead of just Ben Mankiewicz doing the intro, there was Ben and a red sci-fi looking silhouette of Ben doing the intro. The color shift never went away. It was less noticeable at times, but the picture was nowhere near as good as our home TV. On top of that, about every 10 minutes the screen would go completely blank for 4-5 seconds; nothing but black. The third time that happened, we got up and left. I don't know whether it was the source was bad, the setup was bad, or the equipment was bad.

Wow...that is really bad. Amature hour all the way,the big red flag being the extra 45 min wait.
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Yes, we know right from the start Neff is in deep trouble and has committed crimes,  but we don't know the motive.  The flashback is all about explaining what drove this insurance agent who was leading a fairly 'normal' existence to where he was now.    The reason;  the femme fatale.      With another type of actor we may have felt Neff was in the driver seat.   

 

Good point.  A Cary Grant wouldn't work.  How about John Hodiak?

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Good point.  A Cary Grant wouldn't work.  How about John Hodiak?

 

John Hodiak would have worked.   I like him in a few films and at the time the film was made he had a very neural type of screen persona;  i.e.  not typecast as either a villain or "come to the rescue" hero type.     He was in some fine noirs like Desert Fury and A Lady without Passport.

 

I assume his most famous role is with Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls.   A film that has Angela Lansbury vamping it up. 

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The first time I saw "Double Indemnity" I was taken aback by seeing the father in "My Three Sons" as the amoral protagonist. 

 

MacMurray's career was deeper than his MTS persona. Recommended:

Swing High, Swing Low (1937) with Carole Lombard, readily found online since it's in public domain. They did 4 films together

No Time for Love (1943) with Claudette Colbert, on dvd. I was impressed by his physicality in this one. They did 7 films together.

 

Trying to construct how audiences in 1944 would have perceived FM. Scorecard: 17 Comedies, 16 Dramas, 5 both. More meaningful if you see the costars, directors (link):

Grand Old Girl (1935) Drama | Romance The Gilded Lily (1935) Comedy | Romance Car 99 (1935) Action | Thriller | Crime Men Without Names (1935) Action | Crime | Drama | Romance Alice Adams (1935) Comedy | Drama | Romance Hands Across the Table (1935) Comedy | Romance The Bride Comes Home (1935) Comedy | Romance The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) Drama | Romance 13 Hours by Air (1936) Action | Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery The Princess Comes Across (1936) Comedy | Mystery | Romance | Thriller The Texas Rangers (1936) Adventure | Western Champagne Waltz (1937) Comedy Maid of Salem (1937) Drama Swing High, Swing Low (1937) Drama | Musical | Romance Exclusive (1937) Drama True Confession (1937) Comedy Cocoanut Grove (1938) Comedy | Musical | Romance Men with Wings (1938) Drama Sing, You Sinners (1938) Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance Cafe Society (1939) Comedy | Romance Invitation to Happiness (1939) Drama | Romance Honeymoon in Bali (1939) Comedy | Music | Romance Remember the Night (1940) Comedy | Drama | Romance Little Old New York (1940) Biography | Comedy | Drama | History | Romance Too Many Husbands (1940) Comedy | Romance Rangers of Fortune (1940) Western Virginia (1941) Drama | Romance One Night in Lisbon (1941) Comedy Dive Bomber (1941) Drama New York Town (1941) Comedy The Lady Is Willing (1942) Comedy | Drama | Romance Take a Letter, Darling (1942) Comedy The Forest Rangers (1942) Action | Drama Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) Comedy | Musical No Time for Love (1943) Comedy | Romance Flight for Freedom (1943) Biography | Drama Above Suspicion (1943) Drama | Thriller Standing Room Only (1944) Comedy Double Indemnity (1944) Crime | Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
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MacMurray's career was deeper than his MTS persona. Recommended:

Swing High, Swing Low (1937) with Carole Lombard, readily found online since it's in public domain. They did 4 films together

No Time for Love (1943) with Claudette Colbert, on dvd. I was impressed by his physicality in this one. They did 7 films together.

 

Trying to construct how audiences in 1944 would have perceived FM. Scorecard: 17 Comedies, 16 Dramas, 5 both. More meaningful if you see the costars, directors (link):

 

Let's try that again (the spreadsheet column layout got washed out.)

Also eliminate Star Spangled Rhythm where he only had a cameo, bringing the score to 16/16/5.

 

Grand Old Girl (1935)    Drama | Romance
The Gilded Lily (1935)    Comedy | Romance
Car 99 (1935)    Action | Thriller | Crime
Men Without Names (1935)    Action | Crime | Drama | Romance
Alice Adams (1935)    Comedy | Drama | Romance
Hands Across the Table (1935)    Comedy | Romance
The Bride Comes Home (1935)    Comedy | Romance
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)    Drama | Romance
13 Hours by Air (1936)    Action | Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery
The Princess Comes Across (1936)    Comedy | Mystery | Romance | Thriller
The Texas Rangers (1936)    Adventure | Western
Champagne Waltz (1937)    Comedy
Maid of Salem (1937)    Drama
Swing High, Swing Low (1937)    Drama | Musical | Romance
Exclusive (1937)    Drama
True Confession (1937)    Comedy
Cocoanut Grove (1938)    Comedy | Musical | Romance
Men with Wings (1938)    Drama
Sing, You Sinners (1938)    Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance
Cafe Society (1939)    Comedy | Romance
Invitation to Happiness (1939)    Drama | Romance
Honeymoon in Bali (1939)    Comedy | Music | Romance
Remember the Night (1940)   Comedy | Drama | Romance
Little Old New York (1940)    Biography | Comedy | Drama | History | Romance
Too Many Husbands (1940)    Comedy | Romance
Rangers of Fortune (1940)    Western
Virginia (1941)    Drama | Romance
One Night in Lisbon (1941)    Comedy
Dive Bomber (1941)    Drama
New York Town (1941)    Comedy
The Lady Is Willing (1942)    Comedy | Drama | Romance
Take a Letter, Darling (1942)    Comedy
The Forest Rangers (1942)    Action | Drama
No Time for Love (1943)    Comedy | Romance
Flight for Freedom (1943)    Biography | Drama
Above Suspicion (1943)    Drama | Thriller
Standing Room Only (1944)    Comedy
Double Indemnity (1944)    Crime | Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
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"Double Indemnity" captured a snapshot of 1940s Los Angeles. On one hand you had the stucco homes with palm trees contrasted with the office where Walter Neff worked and his shabby apartment with the door that swung outside (instead of inside). One of my favorite under-appreciated movies is 1995's "Devil In a Blue Dress" with Denzel Washington. "Devil" is set in post-war Los Angeles and looks at a slice of life of African-Americans in the 1940s. Washington's Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins was your typical hard-core private detective and Don Cheadle steals his scenes as Rawlins' questionable backup man, Mouse Alexander. Like the movies of film noir, "Devil" pays homage to the architecture and interiors of the structures - particularly the pre-war Craftsman bungalows that populated working-class Los Angeles.

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It was as mess.  We arrived early, and the movie didn't start until 45 min after the scheduled start time.  I'm not 100% certain what the media they used, but it looked to me to be streamed video.  There was a very distracting magenta shift, so instead of just Ben Mankiewicz doing the intro, there was Ben and a red sci-fi looking silhouette of Ben doing the intro.  The color shift never went away.  It was less noticeable at times, but the picture was nowhere near as good as our home TV.  On top of that, about every 10 minutes the screen would go completely blank for 4-5 seconds; nothing but black.  The third time that happened, we got up and left. I don't know whether it was the source was bad, the setup was bad, or the equipment was bad.

ugh. That stinks! We saw Casablanca on the big screen about a year ago and it was incredible. Very good quality. I love to see the grain in the film (---> photo nerd alert) :) I am planning on seeing Double Indemnity if it is in my area.

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