this is the film noir to which i compare all film noir. not because it’s the first (citizen kane or maltese falcon probably get that honor) or even the best (kubrick’s “the killing” is better), but because it’s the quintessential film noir as i’ve come to know the genre, and because it’s one of the first films that i knew as a “film-noir.” i think it has the second best femme fatale (marie windsor is even better in the killing) and probably the best script. the story has plenty of double-crossing and has a strong narration thanks, mostly, to raymond chandler. billy wilder’s direction is straight-forward noir – shades are always drawn, shadows are heavy, etc., but i didn’t like it as much as kubrick’s direction in the killing or even lewis’ direction in gun crazy. edward g. robinson provides a great secondary character. i wonder how much of film-noir’s bleak world philosophy is pure and how much is a result of the production code of the time that required bad deeds be punished. when i think about it i don’t think the production code had that much of a bearing on how films were written, but i do wonder how many films would have allowed the thieves to get away with it in the end if not for the code. anyway, i like it the way it is – the darker and more awful the ending the more i enjoy it. i think that if you combine the snappy dialogue of this film with everything else in the killing you have the perfect film-noir. double indemnity is constantly moving forward so it never gets stale, but it’s sort of an unofficial rule of mine that a film-noir should be under 100 minutes long, it just seems like a good length to get in and get out. i suppose this film would have been the headliner at any theater at the time so they probably got some slack in that regard, whereas “gun crazy,” which had b actors and probably got second billing, would have been under stricter control length-wise. watching films like this makes me happy because in some weird way, despite having definite conventions, they are so alive and fun to watch.