Monday, February 17, 2014

Double Indemnity

The Postman Always Rings Twice disappointed me.  On a technical level, it deserves its reputation as a noir classic, but it left me cold.  Double Indemnity lived up to my expectations.  The characters were no more likable, but they were more compelling, perhaps because they inhabited a more complex plot.  Walter Huff stops by a client's house to renew his car insurance policy.  Mr. Nirdlinger isn't home, but Mrs. Nirdlinger is, and she asks about taking out an accident policy on her husband.  Huff knows what this means, but as he begins an affair with Phyllis Nirdlinger, he plans the perfect "accidental" murder of her husband.  

And it works - until Phyllis's stepdaughter Lola points tells Huff that her mother died in Phyllis's care.  Huff begins to question his accomplice, but the plan's going well, right?  Then Huff discovers that Phyllis is having an affair with Lola's boyfriend, and a trap springs on the wrong person.  Or does it?  Like a good noir, "double-crossing" doesn't even begin to describe the plot twists, and the ending foreshadows Jim Thompson's The Getaway.  At about 150 pages, Double Indemnity can be a one sitting read, and is definitely worth the time.  Now, I just need to see the movie...

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