Archive for December 17th, 2008


by Allan Fish

(US 1944 107m) DVD1/2

Exceeding the speed limit

p  Joseph Sistrom  d  Billy Wilder  w  Raymond Chandler, Billy Wilder  novel  James M.Cain  ph  John F.Seitz  ed  Doane Harrison  m  Miklós Rózsa  art  Hans Dreier, Hal Pereira  cos  Edith Head

Barbara Stanwyck (Phyllis Dietrichson), Fred MacMurray (Walter Neff), Edward G.Robinson (Barton T.Keyes), Tom Powers (Dietrichson), Porter Hall (Jackson), Jean Heather (Lola Dietrichson), Gig Young (Nino Zachette), Fortunio Bonanova (Sam Gorlopis), John Philliber (Janitor),

In polls as to the greatest film noir in existence, many would single out Billy Wilder’s jet black adaptation of James M.Cain’s pulp novel.  It’s so cynical it’s the sort of film that leaves a rather bitter taste in the mouth but a smirk on the face of any film buff.  With the exception of Heather’s Lola there is probably no wholly decent character in the movie.  Even Robinson’s loveable Keyes is a ruthless insurance worker who would rather see a fellow go to the gas chamber than pay out on a policy.  Okay, perhaps a little harsh, but before we get carried away eulogising over the friendship between MacMurray and Robinson, let us be careful not to forget this is not just a noir but an indictment of the insurance business (a business that let us not forget saw the comic happenings in Wilder’s The Apartment sixteen years later, again with MacMurray as a heel), over half a century before John Grisham’s The Rainmaker made a similar Zola-like accusation.  (more…)

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