Double Indemnity

Topics: Kill, Femme fatale, Philip Marlowe Pages: 5 (2026 words) Published: July 9, 2006
"Double Indemnity" is one of the best films of all time, not necessarily because of its story but because of the acting, direction, cinematography, lighting, and the narrative style. At the time this film was released, the idea of revealing who the killer was in the opening scene was virtually unheard of, but it ended up being very effective because it allowed the audience to concentrate more on other elements of the film, which was the goal of Billy Wilder, the director. Instead of trying to figure out who the perpetrator was, there is more emphasis on how the crime was pulled off, what mistakes were made during the murder, who betrayed who, how close Barton Keyes was getting to solving the case, and probably most importantly, what kind of person Walter Neff is and whether or not sympathy should be felt toward him. Phyllis Dietrichson represents what is called "femme fatale," a very attractive woman that leads a man into a dangerous, difficult or doomed situation. She is a particularly cold and ruthless manipulator who has no difficulty in ruining other people's lives in various ways (including death, if necessary) in order to get what she wants. The "femme fatale," also uses her sexual prowess, seductiveness, and emotional detachment to drag unsuspicious person, generally an interested man, into a scheme from which she is expected to profit deeply. Phyllis decides to recruit Walter Neff for this task, an insurance salesman. First he refuses and appears somewhat offended, but after she pays a visit to his apartment, he easily becomes a victim in her evil conniving plan against her husband. In addition, he voluntarily plots out the death of her husband, and decides to kill him on her behalf in the hopes that they will get the insurance money and be together. Phyllis Dietrichson and Walter Neff have amazing chemistry. Their attraction is incredibly well portrayed, and the development of their relationship often so convincing that what happens between them almost seems normal. Phyllis knows exactly what to say to Walter because she has practiced every word over and over again in her head. So when the situation presented itself, she felt comfortable brings up the idea of life insurance to him. Whenever she interacts with him, she knows faithfully what to say because she has been planning for quite sometime the prospect of murdering her husband in order to collect his fortune. Walter, conversely, methodically makes passionate advances as though this is something that he does regularly. Ultimately, he also plans out his conversations with Phyllis because he begins to suspect she is lying to him, so he is careful to make sure he only tells her only what she wants her to hear. This seemingly stiff dialogue brilliantly represents Phyllis and Walter's precise and sinister intentions, and its quick pace creates a feeling of urgency and restlessness. After they executed the plan to kill Mr. Dietrichson things started to get rocky. Walter returned home went to check on his vehicle, which should have secure his alibi because he told the gentleman that was cleaning his vehicle that he was not leaving his residence for the evening. He then decides to walk to the corner drug store. At this point he becomes paranoid and cannot sleep for the rest of the night. When he gets to work the next day he is very worried about how Mr. Barton Keyes is going to handle the Dietrichson case. Probably the most fascinating and entertaining actor in the film is Barton Keyes, Walter's friend and employer at the insurance company where he works. Keyes is a very suspicious man who closely investigates the insurance claims, which come into the company, having a striking history of accurately isolating fraudulent claims and throwing them out, makes Walter extremely edgy. At first he is not suspicious, but later he goes to see Walter and reveals that he is having doubt about where this case is valid. Not knowing that Phyllis is...
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