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« BAFTA Prep, Open Thread | Main | Mix Tape: "Panic in Detroit" in The Kids Are All Right »
Saturday
Feb122011

Love Scenes: Light me Up.

Jose here. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Nathaniel asked us to share our favorite love scenes. I'm not really big on V-Day itself. I just don't get it. So I tried to think of the feeling in a "bigger" way, something a bit out of the box if you may call it that, so without further ado, here's one of my favorite love scenes of all time.

Be warned...spoilers ahead! 

Double Indemnity is highly regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made. When it premiered a lot was made about the fact that it dealt with sex in such a blunt way, how Walter Neff's (Fred McMurray) passion for married femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson (the fantastic Barbara Stanwyck) leads them to crime and mutual destruction.

The love affair between Phyllis and Walter is volatile and incredibly sexy but my favorite 'love scene' in the film takes place with two guys. Throughout the film we see the fascinating relationship between Walter and his boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). They both work for an insurance company. When Walter gets involved with Phyllis, little does Barton suspect that they're double crossing him. In a way then Double Indemnity deals not only with Phyllis' infidelity but also with Walter's.

The entire film, which is told in flashback, contains Walter's confession to the man he, well, loves. In a way this framing device could pair this film quite nicely with Brief Encounter (I'll leave for you to decide which one's more tragic).


 

In the film's final scene, a gunshot wounded Walter has finished his confession and he plans to escape. given the fact that he's practically dead by then, this escape is more symbolic; an atonement of sorts. A running gag during the film has Walter lighting up Barton's cigars (the man never seems to have a match on him). In one of these moments an angry Barton looks for a match desperately while discussing a case with Walter. He then proceeds to light him up, Barton gives him a wondrous eye and Walter simply tells him "I love you, too".

In the last scene Walter falls, about to die, and of course decides to smoke a cigarette (don't you love how much actors smoked in classic films?) He weakly looks for a match and it's only at this moment that the roles are exchanged. Barton kneels next to him and lights up his cigarette looking at him with a combination of pity, disappointment and honest to god love.

Then, the following exchange:

Walter: Know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes? I'll tell ya. 'Cause the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya. 

Barton: Closer than that Walter...

Walter: I love you too. 

It makes no difference that Stanwyck's character is long gone by this scene. The finale makes you reevaluate everything you saw. You realize that Double Indemnity is about love just as much as it's about lust.

Hollywood makes such a big deal about romantic love that we often forget fraternal, familial and other kinds of love in the movies. I might be reading too much into the moment but if this scene isn't as romantic and perfect as anything in Casablanca or West Side Story, then I don't know what love is.

Anyone else has any "alternative" fave movie scenes they wanna share? Light us up!

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Reader Comments (5)

okay now i need to watch this again. Femme Fatales are the best thing about Noirs but the second best is definitely all the strange relationships between male characters.

February 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Loved the piece! And, you're right, these kinds of love can be very powerful, even more powerful than the "romantic love" because they are implied but are usually expressed only once.

Some examples that come to mind:

1) That emotional scene between Winslet and Thompson in Sense and Sensibility

2) The final scene in Julia(2008)

3) The final scene in The Straight Story

4) (whispering) The last scene between Freeman and Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy

February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Almost every scene between Glenn Ford and George Macready in Gilda. Here are two examples:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDTB79m7aAw
(start at the 8:00 mark)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO1Hjtyj0mU&feature=related
(start at the 1:00 mark)

And of course, the mutual gun admiration scene between John Ireland and Monty Clift in Red River.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Parker Tyler, who was writing highly sophisticated camp criticism long before almost anyone knew what that was (i.e., in the 1940s) wrote a now-classic review of Double Indemnity that repositions the whole movie as a love affair between Neff and Keyes. It's called "Double into Quadruple Indemnity" and is worth hunting down. Obviously, his argument climaxes on this final scene with the cigars, but very strangely, he omits to mention the "I love you, too" line, which would seem to be a clincher for the whole reading.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

The "I love you." from Hogarth to the Iron Giant never fails to knock me on my ass. Nice piece.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C
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