A seductive and scary Barbara Stanwyck entered film noir history as a homicidal housewife in Billy Wilder’s classic adaptation of the James M. Cain novella.
“If you’ve seen one film noir, it’s probably this one, and it should be,” writes The New Yorker‘s Margaret Talbot of “Billy Wilder’s near-perfect film.” Based on the James M. Cain novella and co-scripted by Raymond Chandler, Indemnity stars a seductive, scary Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, whose ankle chain hints at depravity and whose sunglasses hide evil intent. Scheming to knock off her husband and collect on his accident insurance, the glacial femme fatale lures a smitten salesman (Fred MacMurray) into helping her carry out the crime. Undaunted by the presence of his formidable co-stars, Edward G. Robinson carves out a memorable role for himself as an adjuster who has a sixth sense about fishy claims, and delves into the case with deadly results. Barely eluding the strictures of the Hays Office with its nasty characters, sexual innuendo and tawdry atmosphere, Double Indemnity remains as suspenseful and gripping on fifth viewing as it does on the first.
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