Insurance salesman Walter Neff and Phyllis Dietrichson, the unhappy wife of a wealthy oilman, start a dangerous, illicit love affair and hatch the perfect scheme to murder Phyllis’ husband and collect the insurance money.
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I'd watched this many years ago but forgot a lot. It is one of the best film noirs ever made. I loved it all from the narration by the protagonist looking back over how he got into such a pickle to the femme fatale played brilliantly by Barbara Stanwyk this is one of the best.
There's not a great deal to be added to the praise for this tight and tidy tautological thriller. The rat-a-tat-tat dialogue crackles and fizzes; the performances spark and the production raises a suitably knowing eyebrow - cast in contrasty photography - despite the morality closing-in. Delicious double trouble indeed.
How do people think of such tight, zippy, perfect little stories? I wish I could. An airtight noir, hard-boiled dialogue with the serene perfection of haiku, gorgeously shot, gorgeously Stanwyck. One of the first great, "Evil can be committed by anyone... Even you, you schlubby nobody." Billy Wilder, you dog. "You're not smarter, Walter. You're just a little taller."
"Straight down the line, baby. Straight down the line." One can see in Stanwyck's mess of a wig the blueprint for every single femme fatale. Phony, gritty, sordid: this is as good as film noir can get.
Sharp, witty, moody, sexy, tense, all kinds of cool. The acting and directing are really good but the script is the star of the show with its non-stop barrage of Awesome from start to finish. Some lame "I love you"s and a kinda disappointing climax hold it back a little, but all in all this is damn great fun straight down the line. I give it an A-.
It's actually rather dull in emotion and quite overrated. The dialogue/acting certainly has a good flavor to it, but the talky scenes often lack an urgency and are rather passive in their dramatic stakes. Also, its central plot shouldn't have been in flashback, as it kills the tension since we already know where it ends. Much better noirs came later that don't drone on about plots and theories of an insurance scam.