Double Indemnity (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. The movie was adapted by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler from the novella of the same title by James M. Cain that first appeared in 1935 as an abridged 8-part serial in Liberty Magazine.

The film was directed by Wilder. The story was based on a 1927 crime perpetrated by a married Queens woman and her lover. Ruth (Brown) Snyder persuaded her boyfriend Judd Gray to kill her husband Albert, after having her spouse take out a big insurance policy—with a double-indemnity clause. The murderers were quickly identified and arrested.

Other films inspired by the Snyder-Gray murder include The Postman Always Rings Twice and Body Heat. Both Postman and Double Indemnity were remade, with Double Indemnity being a "made-for-TV" movie in 1973 starring Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, and Samantha Eggar.

Barbara Stanwyck is the femme fatale villainesses Phyllis Dietrichson.


The film tells the story of an insurance salesman (MacMurray) who finds himself entwined in a plot to kill a woman's husband. A tenacious investigator (Robinson) thinks it's foul play and may suspect his co-worker and the recently widowed femme fatale. The title of the film is a reference to a frequently-found provision in many life insurance policies in which an amount twice the amount that would normally be paid to the beneficiary becomes payable in the event of an unlikely accidental death of the insured (in this case a train accident, usually considered one of the less-frequent causes of death ever). An alternate ending was shot for the film (to appease censors) featuring killer MacMurray going to the gas chamber. This footage is lost but stills of the scene still exist.


Both the director and the cinematrographer were big fans of the painter Edward Hopper and were clearly influenced by Hopper's use of shadow and isolation in his works. Raymond Chandler once remarked upon Wilder's admiration for Hopper and his efforts to introduce similar themes into his films. Billy Wilder is believed to be the anonymous benefactor who donated Hopper paintings to LA area museums.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Double Indemnity (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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