Double Indemnity Review
“How Could I Have Known That Murder Could Sometimes Smell Like Honeysuckle?”
January 30th, 2011
Walter Neff is an insurance salesman who earns his living traveling door to door. One fateful afternoon he happens by the house of the beautiful Phyllis Dietrichson, whose husband is, as usual, away on business. It's truly infatuation at first site for Walter and Mrs. Dietrichson, both of whom are clearly smitten for one another from the onset. She invites Walter in for a drink.
Once inside, he gives Mrs. Dietrichson his usual sales pitch, but she's not going for it. Then, knowing her husband ins't around, Walter tries to sell Mrs. Dietrichson a little something on the down low...and this time I'm not talkin' about insurance. Unfortunately for Walter, she's not going for that either, and he is told to come back later in the week to speak with Mr. Dietrichson regarding the insurance.
A few days later Walter gets a call at his office from Mrs. Dietrichson, who asks him to drop by after he gets off, presumably to speak with her husband. Walter arrives at her house, however, to discover that he and Mrs. Dietrichson are alone yet again, with no impending timetable of her husband's return. This time, it is she who gives Walter the sales pitch. She asks Walter about the coverage polices regarding accidental death, and what kind of benefits that might mean for her if she were to take out a claim on her husband's life in the event some terrible tragedy were to befall him.
Walter quickly catches on, however, and wants nothing to do with it. He cracks a couple of wise jokes before making a b-line for the front door. Back at his apartment, Walter is kicking himself for walking out on the beautiful Mrs. Dietrichson, thinking he blew his only shot of ever seeing her again. Then a knock at the door. It's Phyllis with Walter's hat, which he forgot back at her house during his mad scramble for the door. After a few back-and-forth exchanges of loquacious banter laden with innuendo of the sexual variety, Walter apologizes and tells Phyllis that he's crazy about her. To which she replies, "I'm crazy about you too, Walter."
So crazy, it turns out, that they are both willing to commit murder in order to be together. Together the two hatch a plan for the perfect murder, one that will get Mr. Dietrichson out of the picture for good, and allow them to collect Double Indemnity on his life.
Billy Wilder directs this 1944 noir classic starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. Double Indemnity is easily one of the best films of all time, and in my opinion, the greatest and most iconic film noir of all time as well. All the elements are on display in this classic tale of human lust and desire. Will Walter and Mrs. Dietrichson get away with the perfect murder? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure, however. There are no happy endings in Dark City.