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Double Indemnity

Billy Wilder, an Austrian born into a Jewish family, is probably the most well-known of the European émigré directors. His Hollywood career was long and successful: classics like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment regularly appear in all-time top film lists. 

Moving to Berlin in the 1920s, Wilder worked as a journalist covering sport and crime, which would put him in good stead for his American career. With the rise of fascism in the 1930s, Wilder like many others fled first to France and then onto America. His family’s experience of the brutality of the Nazis and his journalistic insights into the seedier and duplicitous side of life would inevitably feed into a view of humanity which was more flawed and complex than the simplicity of Hollywood’s good and bad. 

Adapted by Wilder and the poet of crime-writing, Raymond Chandler from James M. Cain’s pulp novel, Double Indemnity is a sizzling, simmering tale of seduction and murder. Our wise cracking hero, insurance salesman Walter Neff (MacMurray), is seduced way out of his depth by the charms of the scheming Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck). 

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