Movie Analysis of Double Indemnity

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Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944)

Billy Wilder directed the film Double Indemnity, which was released in 1944. Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder collaborated on the screenplay. The novella Double Indemnity, written by James Cain, is the basis for the film. The thriller film was a one-of-a-kind at the time, earning seven Oscar nominations at the 17th Academy Awards ceremony. During the same year, the film received a positive review from a Hollywood reporter.

The Location: Mise en Scene

The location is the mise en scene that stands out in this film. The majority of the film was shot in the Dietrichons' home, which is a massive Spanish Colonial house that was constructed in 1927. The production team copied the interiors of this house including the staircase which is very important in this movie. The first scene where Phyllis Dietrichson appears is at the top of the staircase where she appears to be undressed. Phyllis is looking down at Neff, and the location of this scene is perfect because the fact that she is confidently standing at the top of the stairs of a very beautiful house in an undressed state (Billy) gives the audience a clue on what type of character she plays in the movie. Phyllis is a seductive, money hungry as well as a manipulative woman who uses her beauty to get what she wants.

The Music

The music that is used in the movie was composed by Milkos Rozsa. This music suits this movie as it matches with the movie's genre with its low light cinematography and dark shadows. The music is lean and dissonant. The music in the movie is played repetitively and helps build the investigative and romantic nature the movies is all about. An example of a scene where music plays an important role is after Walter and Phyllis attend a meeting that was arranged by Edward Norton, the insurance Company manager concerning the settlement of the insurance money since Norton had concluded that Mr. Dietrichson had died out of an accident. After the meeting, Walter goes home, and as soon as he gets home, Phyllis calls him and wants to come over so that they can celebrate their victory. Walter accepts the request by Phyllis to come over; then celebratory string music plays to elevate the mood thereby showing that this was a happy occasion (Billy).

The Editing

The editing of this movie was done by Doane Harrison. The camera work of this movie has been well done as it involves focusing on the characters as they act the movie and sometimes the camera did intercut from one scene to another swiftly or took a full shot of a character to emphasize on the role of the character. For example, when Walter and Keyes are having a conversation about the suspicions of Keyes on the involvement of Phyllis in the murder of her husband, the camera takes full shots on Phyllis as he approaches Walter's apartment leaving the audience to wonder if Phyllis will be caught by Keyes.

The Cinematography

The cinematography of the movie is excellent. In the 17th Academy Awards, the movie was nominated for the category of Best Cinematography. The cinematography of this film was directed and managed by John Seitz. Much has been said about using low lighting in a film noir to deliver a message to the audience. In Double Indemnity, the lighting is well used where in some instances adequate light is used to show the positive side of the scene while in other scenes low light is used to show that the scene involves bad acts as well as serious conversations (Catherine). For example, in the first scene when Walter meets Phyllis, adequate light is used to emphasize on her beauty. Also, when Keyes is present, Phyllis is kept in shadows that result from low light signifying that Phyllis is regarded as evil.

The Black and White Medium

The movie is shot using a black and white medium -- a situation that signifies that the movie was filmed during the classic age. The movie, therefore, helps the audience to understand that the themes in the movie date back to the classic ages of the 20th century. This movie gives insight into how love and crime coexist in today's society.

Works Cited

Blakeney, Katherine. "An Analysis of Billy Wilder's" Double Indemnity"." Inquiries Journal 1.12 (2009).

Wilder, Billy. "Watch Online Full Movie: Double Indemnity (1944), For Free | Ffilms.Org." Ffilms.Org, 1944,

June 14, 2024




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