Media Studies Intro to Cinema

A blog

Double Indemnity, Paramount, 1944

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 11:42 am on Monday, October 3, 2011

Double Indemnity resonated so well with our class because it reflects a style that is used in modern times. The dark mysterious film noir intrigues people, because of sense of doing something bad is always thrilling to audiences. Another reason why so many people liked this movie is because Walter is narrating throughout the whole movie. This was something relatively new to cinema at the time, and the fact that he keeps our ears engaged with what we are seeing throughout the whole movie is very entertaining. In Paul Schraders article Notes of Film Noir he says notes characteristics of film noir and says, “Gangsters sit in the offices at middaywith shades pulled and the lights off” (57). This is very characteristic of this movie, and although this is not a gangster movie, there are many shots of Walter in in a room where the shadows of the shades are reflected off his body, giving the scene a very chiarscuro type of feel.  In the article Schrader also says, “the narration creates a mood of temps perdu: an irretrievable past, predetermined fate and an all enveloping hopelessness” (58). From the beginning of the move we already know that Walter has killed Mr. Dietrichson, letting us know his fate, but not everything in between. This movie is also interesting because of this, since it starts off with the ending scene, and backtracks to the very beginning to tell the audience the story. He is left hopeless in the end because Phyllis betrays him, and the “all enveloping hopelessness” is very evident in the first few scenes.   Schrader also notes that, “The film noir’s techniques emphasize loss, nostalgia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity; then submerge these self-doubts in mannerism and style” (58). The charactertistic that Walter lacks clear priorities is very evident in this film because he goes on to kill Mr. Dietrichson for a woman he barely knows, and worse yet what exactly her intentions are with him. This movie is so intriguing because of the stylistic uses of film noir to emphasize the secrecy of crime, the passion, and demise of man who fell for a woman’s trap.

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1 Comment



2011/10/20 @ 8:58 pm

you gave some good points in your post about Walters character. I also how liekd that you referred to the film noir readinfs explaining the office scenes with shadows on Walter.This film was a good example of film noir with Walter but also very much so with Phyliss. Her character manipulated men to get ahead for her own selfish needs which would be “spider woman”. I agree that the film was intriguing because of this crime feel. People enjoy watching bad things because it looks fun and some people would never do it, its as if being bad feels good. I Liked how the film starts with the ending as the beginning, like u said you know his fate but you have to learn the inbetween story.

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