Ephraim Katz, an erudite writer, journalist and filmmaker devoted his life to gather the information for his exhaustive book, The Film Encyclopedia, which defines film noir in a profound and detailed manner. Katz defines film noir as a term used to describe films with heroes and villains who are cynical or disillusioned. In other words, he describes all characters in film noir negatively. Katz goes on to say that within film noir night scenes, deep shadows, tense nervousness, and oblique choreography abound. The 1940s film “Double Indemnity”, characterized as film noir, universally abides by the criteria set by Katz and thus is a perfect depiction of film noir. There are abundant amounts of night scenes, deep shadows and oblique choreography in the movie, as well as disillusioned and cynical characters.
“Double Indemnity” is a flashback dictated by Walter Neff, a skilled insurance agent. The movie begins with a tired and nervous Walter in agony from a gun shot, walking into his desolate office well after office hours. The first scene is highlighted by smoke from Walter’s cigar, and the darkness both inside and outside Neff’s office. Shortly after entering his office, Neff begins his narrative. For a brief period of time, the movie strays from all characteristics of Katz’s definition. However, the story picks up quickly and the dark tones and night scenes dominate the movie. Even when it's night outside, Neff turns off the lights in his house and the scenes go on in the dark. These seemingly irrelevant actions add a lot of suspense to a relatively uneventful movie. Moreover, the few scenes with action, such as the murder of Phyllis Dietrichson take place at night in complete darkness.
The characters in the movie are delineated through their cunning and ingenious actions. Barton Keyes, Neff's co-worker and a claims adjuster, is accentuated as a clever "detective", one that can spot the tiniest clues in an insurance claim. When the audience is first...
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