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Double Indemnity (1944), Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray

I recommend this week the definitive film noir in Hollywood history: “Double Indemnity”. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G. Robinson, this motion picture presents the story of two lovers who plan to kill the heroine’s husband for his health insurance. It was directed by Billy Wilder, who is one of the most appreciated filmmakers in Hollywood, and it earned seven nominations at the Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplany, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Music. “Double Indemnity” has all the typical aspects of the film noir genre: somber, dark mood, damp streets, a fascinating use of lights and shadows, a mysterious crime, a hard-boiled hero, and, of course, a femme fatale, played by Barbara Stanwyck. As a matter of fact, Phyllis, the character she played, is considered the definitive femme fatale in classic film noir history. She is the one who uses her sex-appeal to seduce and determine the hero – an insurance representative (MacMurray) to help her make the crime plan work to perfection. But their shameless and sinful behaviour is punished by the end of the film, as both of them lose control of their own destiny and kill or hurt each other. Death is the symbolical punishment used in most of the films noirs, as a result of the characters’ inner problems (frustration, hate, obsession, vengefulness, destruction, and even sadism) and needs (security, money, power and freedom, most of the times). The characters are tortured by their own self and by the suffocative city, which encompases a closed world, a trap without escape. I highly recommend you to watch “Double Indemnity”, as it is one of the most famous classic films in history, and, what is more, you will never get bored, because films noirs could never be boring, owing to their complex plots and fascinating characters.

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