Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1944. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler, based on the novel by James M. Cain. Cinematography by John F. Seitz. Produced by Joseph Sistrom. Music by Miklos Rozsa. Production Design by Hans Dreier, Hal Pereira. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Doane Harrison. Academy Awards 1944.
One of film noir‘s greatest peaks is this fantastic Billy Wilder murder mystery. A joe-schmo insurance investigator (Fred MacMurray) on a routine door-to-door sales route talks to a married woman (Barbara Stanwyck, who made herself the archetype of the femme fatale with this fantastic role) about renewing their life insurance. She in turn uses her feminine wiles to get him to help her end her husband’s life, then cash in on the generous policy; of course, when you play with fire you get burned. Marvelously moody black-and-white photography that became the hallmark of the genre is a highlight, not to mention how marvelously suspenseful it is.