Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Double Indemnity (1944)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Double Indemnity (1944)

In Billy Wilder's classic film noir scripted by Raymond Chandler - a witty, hard-boiled screenplay with a flashbacked story:

  • the intriguing opening title sequence of insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) with crutches in the middle of the night, painfully entering a building, the Pacific All-Risk Insurance Company and taking the elevator to the 12th floor to his office, where he began the film's haunting flashback - a confession dictated into a recorder about a murder and how he was implicated
  • the introduction and entrance of cool blonde-wigged femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) - first in a towel as she emerged at the top of a stairs landing in her Glendale, California home, looking down and wearing only a bath towel on account of being interrupted while sunbathing - she asked bewitchingly of Walter Neff standing below her: "Is there anything I can do?"; she noted that she wasn't "fully covered"; taking her in lustfully, he slyly joked about the Dietrichsons' insurance "coverage"
Enticing Femme Fatale Phyllis Dietrichson
Sunbathing in Nude
Gold Anklet
  • soon after she dressed, the camera focused on her legs (from Neff's point-of-view as he observed her) where she wore an engraved, gold ankle strap on her left ankle, flashing it at him as she came down the stairs; he also watched her exhibitionism as she finished buttoning up her blouse and put on her lipstick
  • the sequence of the agent's sexual banter with Phyllis in her living room, who coyly countered his advances in their classic double-entendre conversation about "speeding" and "traffic tickets" - she rebuffed him: "There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff, 45 miles an hour" - she claimed he was going 90 mph; during a second meeting, she proposed purchasing double indemnity insurance on her husband
  • the nerve-wracking murder (with the camera stationary on Phyllis' stoic face in the driver's seat) and post-murder car-sputtering scene
  • the scene in the hallway when Phyllis hid behind Neff's apartment door when claims adjuster Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) paid an unexpected visit
  • Keyes' dogged investigation of his colleague with a rapid-fire speech-monologue about suicide statistics and various ways to commit suicide - and his continued discussion about the "little man" inside him that sensed fraud
  • the continued clandestine and furtive meetings and discussions at the supermarket between Neff and Phyllis
Phyllis Behind Neff's Door
Keyes' Suicide Statistics Speech
Furtive Supermarket Meetings
  • the deadly double-cross scene between the two conspirators was in the darkened Dietrichson living room where Phyllis sat awaiting Neff; when he arrived, she admitted that they were both rotten: Phyllis: "We're both rotten." Neff: "Only you're a little more rotten. You got me to take care of your husband for ya"; as he closed the window, she pulled out a concealed, shiny, metallic gun - Phyllis shot Neff once in the shoulder and he taunted her to finish him off: ("You can do better than that, can't ya, baby? Better try again. Maybe if I came a little closer? How's this? Think you can do it now?"), but she lowered her gun and hesitated to kill him for some reason (because of her love for him, or because of her conscience?); he took her gun away, and she admitted her rottenness again: "I'm rotten to the heart. I used you just as you said"; then during a final erotic embrace, Walter grimly shot her with two point-blank gunshots into her chest ("Goodbye, baby")
Final Erotic Encounter and Embrace
  • the final confrontation between Neff and Keyes as the insurance agent was dying slumped in a doorway and was offered a light for his cigarette by Keyes (a reversal)

The Confession - Flashback

First Meeting - Sexual Banter in Her LIving Room

Second Meeting - The Purchase of Insurance For Her Husband (Without His Knowledge)

Kissing in Neff's Apartment

Cold-Hearted Stare During Murder of Her Husband

Inquisitive Claims Adjuster Keyes

Flashback Over: Neff Confessing to Barton Keyes in Conclusion


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