Double Indemnity

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Academy Awards
Best Picture
Academy Awards
Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Awards
This is the gold standard of '40s noir, straight down the line.


Double Indemnity

Part of our Throwback Thursday series in partnership with Eat|See|Hear.
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Laemmle’s Anniversary Classics presents a Film Noir Double Feature75th Anniversary Screenings of DOUBLE INDEMNITY and LAURASeptember 26 and September 28Special introduction by author and film historian Jeremy Arnold (Sept. 28 only)
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a double dose of classic film noir in the popular Twofer program (two features for the price of one) with 75th anniversary screenings of 'Double Indemnity' and 'Laura,' two of the most lauded films of 1944 and the entire noir canon. The double feature will screen at two Laemmle locations: Pasadena (Playhouse on September 26 only) and Beverly Hills (Ahrya Fine Arts on September 28 only).

'Double Indemnity' is writer–director Billy Wilder’s film adaptation (with co-scripter Raymond Chandler) of a crime novella by James M. Cain, a tawdry tale of an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) and duplicitous dame (Barbara Stanwyck), who scheme to murder Stanwyck’s businessman husband for the insurance proceeds. After pulling off the seeming “perfect crime,” the lethal lovers come under the scrutiny of MacMurray’s claims adjuster colleague (Edward G. Robinson), who smells something rotten in the film’s setting, the Hollywood Hills.

'Laura' is producer-director Otto Preminger’s film version of Vera Caspary’s novel (adapted for the screen Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Betty Reinhardt, Ring Lardner Jr. and Jerry Cady, the latter two uncredited) about the murder of a beautiful socialite (Gene Tierney) and the spell she cast over three suitors: a cynical columnist (Clifton Webb), a playboy gigolo (Vincent Price), and a necrophiliac detective (Dana Andrews). The title character’s wealthy aunt (Judith Anderson), who yearns for Price, is also among the suspects. When Tierney, who is more a fascinating female than an archetypical femme fatale, turns up very much alive, the mystery deepens. Set among the sophisticates of Manhattan, 'Laura' is a cosmopolitan counterpart to the middle class denizens and atmosphere of 'Double Indemnity.'

Both films share key film noir elements, including sharp edged black-and-white cinematography (John Seitz, 'Double Indemnity;' Joseph LaShelle, 'Laura'), taut structure, well-crafted dialogue (Raymond Chandler’s main contribution to 'Double Indemnity'), and low motives matched with high style. The two films also showcase masterful music (Miklos Rozsa’s Oscar-nominated 'Double Indemnity' score and David Raksin's memorably haunting 'Laura'). Among the acting highlights, Clifton Webb’s acid-tongued turn in 'Laura' was described wryly as “sophistry personified” by the New York Times, which also praised Dana Andrews as closely matching Webb’s incisive performance. 'Double Indemnity' features Barbara Stanwyck’s expert take on the noir wicked woman, described by Pauline Kael as “the best acted and the most fixating of all the slutty, cold-blooded femme fatales of the film noir genre.” Kael also singled out Edward G. Robinson’s “easy mastery” in his sympathetic role. 'Double Indemnity' reaped seven Academy Award nominations, including best picture, director, actress, and screenplay. 'Laura' scored five nods, including director, supporting actor (Webb), and screenplay, winning for LaShelle’s black-and white cinematography. Both films were added to the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.

Laemmle’s Anniversary Classics twofer program of 'Double Indemnity' and 'Laura' will screen on separate dates and venues: Thursday, September 26 at the Pasadena Playhouse, and Saturday, September 28 at the Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills. Film historian Jeremy Arnold, author of TCM’s 'The Essentials' and TCM’s 'Christmas in the Movies,' will introduce the September 28 program in Beverly Hills only, at the Ahrya Fine Arts, the 1937 vintage jewel box theater -- a perfect setting for 1940s film noir.
Not Rated
Crime, Drama, Noir, Auteur Cinema, Throwback Thursdays, Repertory
Billy Wilder
Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G Robinson
Nominee, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Academy Awards
Nominee, Best Picture, Academy Awards
Nominee, Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
Nominee, Best Cinematography, Academy Awards
Nominee, Best Music (Original Score), Academy Awards

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