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Analysis of the film Double Indemnity Essay

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Double Indemnity (dir. Billy Wilder 1944) is a film about an insurance sales man Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) that falls for a highly sexual, scandalous woman, Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) who attempts to kill her husband. Even though Walter dismisses Phyllis attempt to purchase life insurance policy for her husband; he is unable to stay away from Phyllis for long. In the time they spend together, Walter and Phyllis try to hatch a fool-proof plan to get rid of her husband and get a double indemnity from the insurance company. Walter Neff boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) is a man of skill and knowledge, and has been working in the same job for twenty-six years, and has always been able to tell who is a cheater and who is an honest man. Barton ability to tell who is being honest by consulted the ‘little man’, and does so throughout the film. Walter later finds out that Phyllis has been involved in another ‘accident’ prior to her involvement with her husband Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers).When both Walter and Phyllis are about to be found out by Barton, Phyllis attempts to kill Walter and escape with the cash. The scene in which both Barton and Walter are together in the office and are later in the hallway in which the male characters Walter and Barton both find themselves together on the ground highlights and suggest gender noir in the film. The film Double Indemnity uses the stylistic qualities of film noir to illustrate the homo-erotic relationship between Barton and Walter with the use of lights, shadows, and oneiric qualities which also suggest and emphasize the importance power of gender in noir.
Janey Place and Lowell Peterson article “Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir” establishes noir as a visual style and not a ...


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... he saw. The relationship with Phyllis was unstable and vile. After Phyllis is gone, the power over Walter is also gone, and he goes to ask for forgiveness for his love, Barton. Walter makes this argument clear when he confesses to Barton “You know why you couldn’t figure this one Keyes, I’ll tell ya, it’s because the guy you were looking for was too close, right across the desk from you.” and Barton replies by saying “Closer than that Watler” In the final words Walter reveals how he truly feels about Barton “I love you too”. The relationship between Walter and Barton cannot be denied. The light, sound, and camera angle all imply a closeness of the male characters. The final shot has Walter trying to light a cigarette, in which Barton light it for him is the final act of relief, in which they both share together before the film end and the screen fades out to black.



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