Film Noir Movie Series Launches with “Double Indemnity”

Posted: September 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Double Indemnity (film)

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The marriage of the hard-boiled crime novel and cinema at mid-20th century produced the spectacular and fertile phenomenon of “Film Noir.” On The Same Page is offering a Monday evening Film Noir movie series at the Central Library, starting this Monday, September 13th and running four consecutive Monday evenings. In each case, we’ve chosen a film noir based on a novel, and we’re launching the series with Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944).  At each showing, we’ll also be doing a drawing to give away copies of the novels the movies were based upon.

Join us Monday, September 13th, at 6:30 pm in the Central Library auditorium for Double Indemnity.

American author James M. Cain published the novel Double Indemnity in 1943, after it first was serialized in Liberty magazine starting in 1936. Crime author Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder co-wrote the screenplay for the movie, with Wilder as director.  Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson star.

Turner Classic Movies provides us with a complete plot synopsis (spoiler alert!), complete credits, viewer reviews, movie clips, the original trailer, and more on their webpage.

Learn more about Film Noir…

The National Endowment for the Humanities, in their Readers’ Guide to Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon for The Big Read, explains, “Film noir is shorthand for those doom-laden, black-and-white but mostly black crime stories that suddenly appeared on American screens in the 1940s. A few critics insist film noir started with an obscure, enjoyable Peter Lorre movie called The Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), whose script the novelist Nathanael West helped write, but almost everybody else traces it to The Maltese Falcon (1941). This lineage makes Hammett at least the godfather of every noir, from Double Indemnity (1944) to The Usual Suspects (1995)-whose ending is unmistakably lifted by screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie from Hammett’s great long story ‘The Big Knock-Over.'”

John and Stephanie Blaser maintain an incredible web resource, Film Noir Studies, that you must visit! Succinct, but complete and thoughtful coverage of the genre, including a great essay by John Blaser, “Film Noir and the Hard Boiled Detective Hero.” This is a must-read essay that focuses on Hammett’s Falcon and the 1941 Bogart movie–“It may even be fair to say that every detective in later film noir was in some way a departure from Sam Spade.”


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