On this day in 1944: Double Indemnity premiered

On 24 April 1944, one of the all-time great film noirs had its first public screening: Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity. Here are stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray filming their clandestine rendezvous in the supermarket.

Samuel Wigley
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Filming Double Indemnity (1944)

Filming Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity, which premiered 70 years ago on 24 April 1944, was one of the original handful of cynical American thrillers which, when released en masse in France after the war, gave rise to the term film noir. This shady cycle often featured treacherous women (femmes fatales) duping guileless men. Few of these were more alluring than Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who ensnares policy salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) in her scheme to do away with her husband and claim the insurance payout.

Filming Double Indemnity (1944)

Filming Double Indemnity (1944)

Adapted from a James M. Cain story by émigré Billy Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler, and told within a clever flashback structure as Neff leaves a taped confession for his wily colleague Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), the film is a wellspring of the noir style, with John F. Seitz’s cinematography a textbook in angles and shadow.

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