December 8, 2012 by Nathan Smith
Fred MacMurray plays insurance selling, Walter Neff, in this classic 1944 film. He shares the starring role with Barbara Stanwyck who plays Phyllis Dietrichson. Neff shows up to the Dietrichson residence to renew their auto insurance policy. Mr. Dietrichson is not home but Mr. Neff speaks with Phyllis about the auto insurance and an accident policy for Mr. D. There is almost an instant attraction between these two leading characters. After another visit Phyllis and Walter have decided to trick Mr. Dietrichson into getting an accident policy and then having him killed to collect the insurance. This way they can be together and have the money.
They successfully trick Mr. D into signing a policy without his knowledge. Walter is the brains behind of the murder plan as he knows what their investigative team will look for during their investigation of the claim. Everything is going just as planned as Mr. D takes is yearly trip on the train to visit Standford. Walter knows that if Mr. D dies in a train accident it will activate the Double Indemnity clause which will pay double the normal amount. The successfully stage kill him and stage his death to look like it is an accident. They believe they are in the clear as the police have ruled it an accident.
Barton Keyes, the insurance investigator, starts to put it together that this was no accident and suspects Phyllis but he knows she had an accomplice. Keyes does not suspect Walter is involved but starts to investigate Phyllis. He confides in Walter that she has been spotted with a man who they believe is her accomplice. Walter knows that he has not been scene with her as they have avoided contact. He begins to suspect that Phyllis has had alternative motives from the beginning. Phyllis’s step-daughter tells Walter that Phyllis killed her mother while acting as her nurse and eventually married Mr. D. Now Walter knows Phyllis is planning on killing him to tie up the loose ends. Walter pays Phyllis a visit late at night where it is clear both have a plan to kill the other but they are trying to play it cool. Walter eventually shoots Phyllis but not before he get shot by her.
Walter goes back to the office and begins to recount the story into a recorder. He is speaking to Keyes to let him know how, why, and what happened but with the intentions of fleeing to Mexico. Keyes interrupts as he finishes the story. Walter begs Keyes to let him go and Keyes knowing he wont make it far agrees. Walter dies at the elevator doors.
I had never heard of this movie but I really enjoyed it. I plan on watching it again because I am sure I will enjoy it again the 2nd time. The planning, execution and then the final dance of Phyllis and Walter is entertaining. The suspense of not knowing if Walter will get away or not keeps you engaged to the film the whole time. I must admit I also like it when the movie does not end happily for everyone. Walter not getting away is justice for killing two different people all for a women he didn’t really know. I would highly recommend watching this one.
My Rating: 7.0