“There’s a Speed Limit in this State:” DF and CK discuss Double Indemnity (for Parterre Box)

DAVID FOX: While I would say that the great James M. Cain remains underappreciated as a novelist in literary circles, he’s generally done very well by Hollywood. The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity have had multiple film adaptations, and at least one of each is a classic. Yet all of them, in small and sometimes very big ways, deviate from the originals. Mildred Pierce, for example, is a marvelous movie (and a defining Joan Crawford performance) that is often nearly unrecognizable from what Cain wrote. His Mildred is a complex melodrama that is astonishingly insightful about women; the adaptation adds a murder, and occasionally veers into film noir. That is a far more natural fit for the Billy Wilder-directed Double Indemnity, which also credits no less than Raymond Chandler as one of the co-screenwriters. In fact, I’m willing to claim it as the greatest film noir ever. Cameron, we took it on for Barbara Stanwyck, who is certainly memorable in it. But there’s so much more here!

CAMERON KELSALL: It certainly gets my vote. One thing that struck me during this rewatch was that even though I know the plot inside and out, I still found myself hanging off the edge of the couch, waiting for every twist and turn. It’s so engrossing—and I don’t just mean Chandler and Wilder’s intricately woven script, although it’s a marvel of genre-movie writing. The entire world Wilder, his cast and artistic team create sucks the viewer in…when Fred MacMurray talks about being able to smell the honeysuckle in the Los Feliz hills above Glendale, you’ll swear you can smell them too…

Click here to read the full post at Parterre Box.

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