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Though often regarded as distinctly post-war, the brooding pessimism of '40s film noir reached its apogee in as early as 1944 with Double Indemnity. Commentators were shocked by an unflinching portrayal of greed, sex and duplicity but the film's acclaim and Oscar nomination set the seal on Billy Wilder's success after a decade of mixed fortunes in Hollywood following his flight from Hitler in 1933.
Based on a novel by James M. Cain and scripted in a famously difficult partnership with Raymond Chandler, the tightly coiled story of insurance fraud and murder combines Lang's themes of entrapment and fate (whether embodied in character or circumstance) with an acute sense of place, of visual and psychological texture.
Dir. Billy Wilder, 1944, USA, 107 mins.
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson.
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