Double Indemnity [Masters of Cinema][UK] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: 15
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Run time: 108 Mins.
- Studio: Eureka Entertainment/Masters of Cinema
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 25, 2012
- RRP: £20.42; £30.63 (Steelbook)
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Hitchcock may get much of the attention when it concerns the cinematic thriller and film noir, but it was Billy Wilder’s 1944 masterpiece, Double Indemnity, that really set the standard for the film noir genre on the big screen leading to an avalanche of copycats and standard characters for years to come. Wilder’s ultimate film noir in the truest sense, the film has all the classic hallmarks – the shadowy, high-contrast imagery in stark urban landscapes, post-modernist designs steeped in the German tradition of expressionism, greed, violence, seduction, a gullible leading man and a deadly femme fatale. Fred MacMurray steps out of his comfort zone of lighthearted comedies to play the insurance salesman Walter Neff, seduced by the lascivious wife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) of a wealthy client. The two cook up a scheme to kill off Phyllis’ husband, with Walter offering the idea that an unlikely accident on a train would trigger the insurance policy’s “double indemnity” clause and give a bigger payday. The two succeed in carrying out the murder, but once Walter’s perceptive boss, Barton Keyes (played wonderfully on-target by Edward G. Robinson), the claims examiner at his company, begins the investigation into the death, things quickly breakdown for the two lovers who immediately become suspicious that each will turn on the other. Told from Walter Neff’s perspective, Double Indemnity carries a strong narration as the film unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Barbara Stanwyck is absolutely flawless as the seductress in the infamous blonde wig while MacMurray proves he is more than just the everyman dad from TV sitcom My Three Sons.
The master for this release was created by Universal Studios in 2008 on a Spirit Datacine using a 35mm dupe negative. Additional restoration work on the HD master was done at Deluxe Soho, UK using a combination of HD-DVNR and MTI systems.
Although there are many moments in this 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encodement where it looks wonderfully film-like and detailed with a strong level of blacks and shadow detail, there is still a large amount of wavering contrast, some obvious flickering and areas where the black levels wash out a bit too much. Still, this is a very decent transfer that is absent of strong levels of electronic manipulations.
The monaural soundtrack, in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) is clean with intelligible dialogue. The score is finely balanced into the mix, although the narration does sound just a bit boxy.
Hurray for Eureka’s Masters of Cinema who, along with a handful of other studios (Criterion, and the BFI, to name just a couple) continue to include thoughtful, high quality extras with their releases, this one included.
- Music & Effects Track
- Commentary – The audio commentary features film historian Nick Redman and screenwriter/historian Lem Dobbs. It was recorded in 2006.
- Shadows of Suspense (1.33:1; 480/SD; 00:37:57) – This 2006 documentary features film historians directors, and authors discussing the making of Double Indemnity.
- The Screen Guild Theater (LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit); 00:29:21) – on March 3, 1945, Barbara Stanwyck & Fred MacMurray were reunited to platy their iconic roles once more for this edition of the long-running Screen Guild Theater radio programme.
- Theatrical Trailer (1.37:1; 480/SD)
- Booklet: The 36-page illustrated booklet features the 1976 interview with director Billy Wilder, “Double Indemnity: A Policy That Paid Off” by John Allyn, in which the director discusses adapting the James M. Cain pulp novel to the screen, James M. Cain’s 1976 commentary on Billy Wilder’s adaptation of his work, Raymond Chandler’s scathing 1945 piece for The Atlantic Monthly on writing for Hollywood, and script excerpts for “Sequence E” a now lost alternate ending filmed for Double Indemnity.
The Definitive Word
Riveting, edge of the seat suspense with the acting and visual style to go along with it, Double Indemnity is arguably the standard film noir to which all others must and should be held. This release from the Masters of Cinema series is thoroughly enjoyable to watch, bringing every tense moment to life again.
Additional Screen Captures