"Double Indemnity" is yet another Billy Wilder classic and has a strong position in my "Top Ten" films list!! Told mostly in flashback the film holds your attention throughout with its crackling dialogue, impeccable acting from the principals and a plot full of suspense. The screenplay was written by Wilder (and Raymond Chandler) from the book by James M. Cain who also wrote "The Postman Always Rings Twice". It is amazing to realise that it was released as long ago as 1944 but the film still stands up well today and hasn't really dated at all. It was a complete change of pace for Fred MacMurray who had to be persuaded by Wilder to do the film. Both George Raft and Brian Donlevy were considered before MacMurray. Raft was interested but wanted to change his character into an FBI agent so of course Wilder couldn't go along with that and Raft lost the opportunity of being in a classic film! Dick Powell was desperate to secure the leading role in this film after he had read an advance copy of the script but he was under contract to RKO and they refused to loan him out to Paramount so he was unlucky. Edward G. Robinson as insurance investigator Barton Keyes was absolutely brilliant and dominated every scene he was in. Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson was breathtaking and this was without doubt one of her best roles ever. "Double Indemnity" had a particularly strong supporting cast including Porter Hall, Richard Gaines, Tom Powers, Jean Heather, Byron Barr and Fortunio Bonanova. Trivia note: Some reviews have listed Gig Young as being in the film but that is not correct. Young's real name was Byron Barr (another actor who was in the film) so that is probably how the error occurred. "Double Indemnity" was remade in 1973 as a TV movie in colour with Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb and Samantha Eggar but this doesn't come close to the Wilder version. Wilder originally filmed a different ending where Walter Neff goes to the gas chamber but this was never used.
Fred MacMurray (in dictaphone message to Edward G. Robinson): "Walter Neff. Insurance salesman, 35 years old, unmarried, no visible scars - until a while ago that is".
Fred MacMurray (in same dictaphone message): "I killed him for money and for a woman. And I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"
Barbara Stanwyck (to MacMurray): "There's a speed limit in this state Mr Neff, 45 miles an hour".
MacMurray (to Stanwyck): "I think you're swell - as long as I'm not your husband!".
Edward G. Robinson (to Richard Gaines): "No soap Mr. Norton - we're sunk and we'll have to pay through the nose, and you know it!".
Robinson (to MacMurray): "You'll never even make the elevator!".