Fred MacMurray

Fred MacMurray



Is he thinking, ‘Is she worth it?’

Walter Neff contemplates  the situation before it is too late. But it’s already too late.   Wheels are in motion. He may be behind the wheel but Phyllis Dietrichson is doing the driving.

4 responses »

    • Fred MacMurray appears a strange choice for the role of murderer in ‘Double Indemnity’. He doesn’t have the earthy quality of an ordinary Joe, such as John Garfield, who would have been perfect. The best formula for Film Noir stories I think, are when a combination of the honest (rather dimwitted) Joe meets the strong willed and sexy Femme Fatal. They are drawn to each other purely through sex appeal. You don’t want your guy to be too sophisticated, or he’ll see right through her. This worked time and time again, for instance; ‘Postman Always Rings Twice’, Out of the Past, The Killers, Double Indemnity to name but a few. The plots are often identical so much so that you could almost cut and paste scenes from one picture to another without losing your way . Well you know what I mean! Interestingly the first shots we see of both Lana Turner in (Postman) and Barbara Stanwyck (Double) are of their legs. We see them from our protagonist’s point of view. You can almost hear the cat whistles from the men in the audience and of course MacMurray and Garfield. This was in the days of censorship so not too much could be shown, not like today, so that made it necessary to be subtle. When Barbara walked down those stairs she had to convey raw sexy appeal or the whole story wouldn’t work, the same for Lana in her bathing suite. You had to believe that these women were not ordinary, but extra-ordinary. Someone you, as the guy would do anything for. The trouble with Fred MacMurray in the film is I think, that he is a ‘white collar’ kind of guy, not your average Joe. The photograph conveys a sophisticated guy who thinks. That is his character, he thinks on his feet to survive, he is a insurance salesman after all. If a lesser director had made this film I think it might have bombed, but Wilder and Chandler’s script rattles along with such sharp dialogue you don’t notice or care that MacMurray should have been smarter than this. Still a great role for MacMurray, one he played well. If only Garfield had been chosen the fireworks on the screen would have really something. Stanwyck was a much better actress than Turner. Even if Lana had the looks, she didn’t manage to convey any of the manipulative qualities needed to be a great Femme Fatal. Barbara did!

      • Wow. Thanks ,Stephen, for that look at Double Indemnity. I could agree with you but I don’t see Garfield selling insurance!
        I think that the way Neff is written and his friendship with Keyes , would he really commit murder. I can see him wanting Phyllis and lots of money, but murder is something else. Maybe we needed to know more about him.
        That switch to murderer is too sudden.
        I do think Garfield would have conveyed more of the obsession with Phyllis.

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