Movie Review: Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944)

4 out of 5 stars

I rarely find time to watch all the movies I’ve recorded to my DVR from TCM.  Saturday afternoon I started watching Double Indemnity with my daughter, who happened to be visiting.  I didn’t get very far into the movie before we left to attend a wedding reception.  I picked up where I left off Sunday morning and finished before lunch.

I especially wanted to view this noir classic in light of the KC Public Library‘s Winter Reading program, While the City Sleeps.  I attended one of the ‘main events’ last month, a talk by local screenwriter Mitch Brian entitled ‘Noir: From Page to Screen.’  James M. Cain wrote the Double Indemnity story, but William Chandler adapted for the movie and both authors were highlighted by Mitch during his talk.  Not having yet read the novel, I can’t confirm that ‘bad books make good movies,’ but this movie definitely kept my attention.

Aside from the cinematography, what I found most appealing about this movie of ‘bad people doing bad things’ was the performance of Edward G. Robinson as Keyes, one of the few good guys in this noir classic.  He stole nearly every scene he was in.  Outstanding and completely against his normal type-casting as a gangster.  His performance even got me excited about a career as an insurance claims adjuster or actuary.

What intrigued me most, though, was constantly trying to puzzle out how this story could be redone in modern times, with the prevalence of security cameras, cell phones and the Internet.  If it could be done, it would have to be some sort of hacker techno-thriller, as far as I could determine.  Or in rural America, where none of those modern-day conveniences work reliably.