Double Indemnity: My First Classic Movie on the Big Screen
As silly as it may sound now, when I first became a classic movie fan many years ago, I had a dream of one day owning a theater that showed nothing but old movies. Not understanding at the time what a difficult if not impossible undertaking that would be, I actually thought that dream would come true.
In the excitement of planning the kind of movies I’d show at my theater, I started to keep a list of all the movies that I watched and put them in either a “show in theater” or “don’t show in theater” column based on whether or not I liked them or thought they would draw a crowd. Although I know now that I’ll never be using it, I still keep that list today to remind myself of those early days when I thought anything was possible.
Discovering The Rosebud Cinema and Drafthouse
When I realized owning a theater was just a pipe dream, I decided I’d settle for the next best thing; a theater near me but owned by someone else that showed classic movies, even it if was only on occasion. For the longest time, there was no such place near me or at least I didn’t think there was.
Then last fall I discovered that the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee) showed classic films on occasion and several were coming up on their schedule. Even though the theater is a good hour and a half drive from where I live, it was at least within driving distance so I was totally thrilled!
Watching Double Indemnity on the Big Screen!
Last October (yes, I know I’m *just* a little late with this post!) I had the pleasure of watching the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1945) at the Rosebud Cinema. It was the first time I had ever watched an old movie on a big screen, but it was not the first time I had seen that movie.
I first watched it early in my days as a classic movie fan when I wasn’t as keen on film noir as I am now, and I have to admit I didn’t really think it was anything special. When I got home after watching it again back in October, this is what I tweeted: “I sort of liked Double Indemnity when I first saw it about 10 yrs ago, but after a second viewing today I think it is close to perfection.”
I remember that after I sent that tweet, I realized I should have left out the “close to” part and just called it perfection. As I was sitting there watching the movie in the comfortable theater, I was totally enthralled by it and literally could not think of one thing to criticize. There were however, MANY things to love about the movie!
10 Great Reasons to Love the Movie Double Indemnity
But instead of telling you about all those things myself, I am going to direct you to a GREAT resource on the subject, Karen from the blog Shadows and Satin, which is devoted to both film noir and pre-code films.
In what turns out to be a very timely coincidence, she just published a list of the top 10 reasons she loves the movie Double Indemnity, and it is a great read.
I feel the same way about all the things she listed, and since she describes them in a far more interesting and clever way than I ever could, I would encourage you to visit her blog and read her list first. Then at the end of this post, I will add just a few more reasons of my own.
The Dark Pages Newsletter – All About the World of Film Noir
Before I do that though, I’d like to mention that Karen is also the editor of an awesome newsletter called The Dark Pages, which is as she describes it “the planet’s only hard copy newsletter devoted to the shadowy world of film noir.” Shortly after I saw it on the big screen, she published a special giant issue devoted entirely to Double Indemnity. If you love the movie (or even if you’ve never seen it or didn’t care for it and need some convincing), you definitely need to get this issue! It is chock full of interesting information and covers some of the finer details of the movie that I missed in my first two viewings. It has me excited to watch the movie again so I can pay more attention to those things.
You can purchase the special issue here, or you can purchase the full yearly subscription, which I highly recommend! Even though I’ve only gotten a few issues so far, I am loving it and think you will too. I’ve learned so many new things about the world of film noir and have added several new titles to my “movies to watch” list.
Four Things I Loved About Double Indemnity
Here are just a few more things in addition to those mentioned by Karen that I enjoyed in the movie:
1. The performance of Fred MacMurray – For reasons that I don’t fully understand, Fred MacMurray’s name seems to come up an awful lot in conversations I hear people having about their least favorite classic movie actor. I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot of his movies, but I think his performance in this movie was brilliant and his acting ability shouldn’t be so easily dismissed!
2. The Dietrichson house – I love it just because I think it’s a cool house! When the character of Walter Neff was walking up to it for the first time in the movie, I believe he mentioned in the narration that it was probably worth about $30,000. I looked it up, and the average cost of a house in 1938 was around $4,000. If Walter was anywhere close with his assessment, that is one nice house!
3. The commercial buildings – I know I’ve mentioned numerous times on my blog that I have a fascination with seeing what certain types of businesses looked like in the 1930’s-60’s, and there were plenty to see in this movie. They included a drug store (shown from the outside only), a food market, a bowling alley, a drive-in, and the Hollywood Bowl, the famous amphitheater located in Los Angeles, California.
4. The passenger train from the murder scene – I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts that I love movies set on ocean liners, and one of my other favorite movie sets is the passenger train. Even though it was only shown for a brief moment as Walter walked to the back of the train, it looked like one that I would have loved to ride in with its cozy looking chairs and lighting.
Well, I sure hope that we’ve given you some great reasons to watch Double Indemnity if you haven’t already and that you’ll be watching it soon!
Have you seen Double Indemnity yet, and if so, what did you think of it? What are some of the classic movies you’ve seen on the big screen?