Dir: Billy Wilder
There are a handful of movies that stir genuine love within me. Double Indemnity is not just a movie I enjoy or understand or appreciate or find interesting. I love it. Every time it is on the television I watch it, indeed I am excited all day when I see it is on that night. When I expose people to new movies, I show them this one first. There is a burning in my chest when the time comes. I never tire of it, I always take something from it. It is a perfect movie, one that fufills all of my desires for a movie watching experience.
I fall in love with Barbara Stanwyck every single time. Her Phyllis is the quintessential femme fatale, there is no screen woman who better uses her sexuality to twist men to her evil will. And what a performance. The sublte variations of her face when she lets her true self show are so powerful that I squirm in my seat. Her sexuality comes from conversation not cleavage; she controls every situation and that power dooms men. I have so much fun falling for her along with the other men in the movie.
I want to be like Fred MacMurray every single time. He is so savvy, so understated with his confidence, always observing, always planning, always delivering the perfect retort. All except for Phyllis of course. But Walter Neff's one weakness makes him all the more emulable, gives him a humanity that shows one crack of light in the stone wall facade. His masculinity is thrilling, he is the kind of man that young boys dream about being when they play detective in the neighborhood park.
I marvel at Edward G. Robinson every single time. His performace is informed by dozens of B gangster pictures that gives him the ability to perfectly deliver these A list lines with punch.
I stand in awe at the writing of Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder every single time. Every single line in the whole damn movie is a gem, American poetry simultaneoulsy possesing the beauty of clever wordplay and the humour of exaggerated coolness. It is spellbinding, sexy, silly, and always sparkling.
I have seen this movie 30 times, easy. Every single time I love it. When I first got serious about movies in high school, I came upon it early. It formed my aesthetic then and only ripens after repeated viewings now. I am so pleased that it comes into my life every 6 months or so.