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Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder


In 1944, Paramount Pictures released a film noir, “Double Indemnity” starring Fred MacMurray as Walter and Barbara Stanwych as Phyllis. “Double Indemnity was directed by Billy Wilder. The main idea involved a love triangle between three people, two men and a woman. There were some obstacles that prevented the main goal to be achieved. Wilder used brilliant props to make the character’s obstacles as well as the entire movie a thrill to watch.


The movie began at the ending when Walter began confessing his story to his coworker’s tape recorder. Following that introduction, his story was portrayed from the beginning. He fell in love with a woman, Phyllis, when he tried to get her husband, Dietrich to renew his insurance policy. Then, Phyllis indicated to Walter that her husband does not treat her well, so Walter and Phyllis create a scam to take out an insurance policy then killing him to get the money.


Walter hides in Phyllis’s car. Phyllis was taking Dietrich to the train station for a business trip, and on the way to the train station, Walter killed Dietrich. Then, Walter boards the train dressed up like Dietrich on the train. Finally, Walter jumps off the train and waits there for Phyllis to find him. Following that, Walter placed Dietrich’s body on the railroad tracks to show evidence of his cause of death. Following Dietrich’s death, Walter and Phyllis kept the murder a top secret throughout the entire movie. They faced several challenges of keeping their secret. One reason was that Phyllis was being investigated as a result of the death of Dietrich. The major challenge was that the insurance company did not want to pay the money for the “accidental” death, which payed double (Double Indemnity). The insurance company continued to claim that Dietrich’s cause of death was suicide. On the other hand, Dietrich’s daughter thinks that Phyllis also killed her mom by neglecting her while she was nursing her. Despite all of the obstacles between Walter, Phyllis and the lawyers, the entire mystery was never resolved entirely, and their insurance plan fell apart.

In the 1940s, filmmakers made film noirs to attract audience to provide a thrill and unique experience while watching any movie about murders, mysteries or conspiracy theories. In this time period, the forensic science was completely different, which made murder investigations harder than they are today. The actors did a great job of holding their secret of the murder of Dietrich, where the only evidence that was proven in the investigation was that Dietrich fell off the observation car of a moving train, where actually Walter strangled him, and Phyllis drove Dietrich’s dead body to the exact same spot where Walter incognito fell off the train. What was very unique about this film was that the ending was very abrupt, where we do not know what happened to the whole case. In today’s society, a murder like this one can be traced back using advanced technology and science like DNA testing to determine who killed somebody in a murder.

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