The genre that is film noir can trace its roots to this 1944 film directed by Billy Wilder. “Double Indemnity” is called the start of film noir, and what I mean by this is you have a femme fatale, or a female villain, a hard-boiled detective, and a plot usually involving murder. But there were other films that could be considered film noir before “Double Indemnity”. So technically, we can not give this film the title of “starting film noir”. Yet, “Double Indemnity” can be a good example of how to describe film noir and the process of how it can be described.
Salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) comes to visit a man about car insurance, but Walter only confronts the man’s wife, Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck). After seeing the wife a couple more times, Phyllis finally confesses: she hates her husband and wants him dead. So, after some persuasion, Phyllis and Walter plan on killing the husband so that the wife can get all the money. Everything goes according to plan, until Walter’s partner, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), gets a sneaky suspicion about the murder. And from there, it gets into some dark territory.
The three main stars, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, are the central focus points in this film. They deliver excellent performances that show what they can be capable of. Billy Wilder did an excellent job at directing this film. He really captured the detective genre that was popular in the 1930s and brought film noir into the 1940s.
“Double Indemnity” does a pretty good job at creating sets. These sets showcase buildings that detail Southern California very well. The lighting also gives a good job detailing the sets and the scenery. My only problem with the lighting is that it can get too dark and you can’t see what’s going on. The music here is a fine orchestrated piece that can stand on its own.
Overall, “Double Indemnity” is an amazing film that still holds out on its own today. “Double Indemnity” is a movie that needs to be seen and I highly recommend it.