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Visual Index ~ Double Indemnity's Best Shot(s)


From the moment they met it was murder."

The fact that Barbara Stanwyck never won a competitive Oscar could drive anyone to the deadly deed!

For this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot we asked fellow denizens of the web to look at Double Indemnity with us. If you click on any of the still's selected as "Best Shot" after the jump it'll take you to the corresponding article, eleven of them in total.  This movie is a stone cold fox. 

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Alison Tooey
Antagony & EcstasyCinesnatchEntertainment JunkieFilm ActuallyThe Film's The ThingI Am Derreck
Victim of the TimeWe Recycle Movies

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Reader Comments (9)

I was pretty sure of what my best shot was before I rewatched this over the weekend but gave it another look just in case, it didn't change.

Just after she's shoots him and admits she's rotten to the heart and never loved him or was until just that minute when she couldn't fire the second shot. She throws herself against him then recoils when she realizes he's going to kill her. It's the shot of her reaction, a combination of Wilder's framing and Barbara's acting: the realization that this time she's gone too far seconds before he shots her and the mix of emotions that run across her face. Brilliant!

Stray observations:
Right after he shots Phyllis as Walter lays her on the sofa the light glints off her anklet, the thing that entrapped him in the first place, most other directors would have zeroed in on it for irony but Wilder lets it just be a subliminal detail that the audience can pick up on it they are paying attention.
I always forget how attractive Fred MacMurray was when he was young, those shoulders! Too many years of watching My Three Sons I guess.
How great is Edward G. Robinson in this movie. That last scene with Fred is so moving after all the darkness that came before.
Lastly, In complete agreement that Missy Stanwyck should have had a shelf full of Oscars!! One of the most egregious slights in their history. At least she received an honorary one more than they did for Thelma Ritter or Ida Lupino! Come on academy there is still time for Doris Day!!

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Love Stanwyck. She should have had several competitive Oscars... *sigh*

The shot in the hall where she hides behind the door is one of my favorites.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Wasn't at a computer in time to link this, but here's my minor addition:

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmiresque

I'm a little late to the party, but you couldn't keep me away from this movie.

In an attempt not to trip the spam filter, I'm not including any links. My shot is at my journal, under the heading "The Little Critic in My Brain is Nodding Her Head in Approval."

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterallisontooey

I was way too busy this week to watch this again to make sure, but off the top of my head my favorite shot is definitely the one in the hallway outside Walter's apartment with Phyllis hiding behind the door (chosen by I Am Derreck). I love suspense shots like that, where we can see the person hiding and those they're hiding from in the same shot, no need for interrupting close-ups. Love Double Indemnity. Love Stanwyck, love MacMuray, love Edward G. Robinson (who doesn't get much love for this one for some reason), love the hard-boiled script and direction. It's a tough choice between this and The Maltese Falcon for my favorite noir.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Denny -- i actually think it's my favorite Robinson performance.

Alison - got it

joel6 -- stanwyck is SUPER (all caps!) in this movie but that last scene i can't quite read. is she for real? are we meant to believe her? is she trying one more angle? or does she assume she landed the first blow well enough to save her? I'M STILL SO SUSPICIOUS OF HER

May 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The film's composition pointedly betrays how she is working the poor shlub from the get-go. What stays with me about Stanwyck's performance is how still her face remains throughout--a mask encasing all that evil slinking around underneath. Only the lips move--and her words tell even less than that glacial facial. Bergman deserved the Oscar that year, but Babs is my No. 2.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Nathaniel-I don't believe for a minute that she's really overcome with love for him, maybe a sort of respect when she realizes that he's as venal as she. Maybe in that had he not killed her they could have found a sort of twisted happiness. But whatever the answer Phyllis was far too guarded, and Barbara too good an actress, to ever truly let it show, that would have been a relinquishment of power and that was what she lived on.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I think what separates Phyllis (the last time a sexy character had a name like Phyllis, by the way) from other femmes fatale is that those other women shy from the light but she fully embraces and owns it, and I like how these shots show that.

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

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