Friday, April 14, 2006


Double Idemnity two-disc special edition DVD, tentatively scheduled for August 29.

I was hoping somebody would get around to this before the inevitable retirement of DVD and its equally inevitable replacement by the super-terrific-happy-DVD format.

Good for a chuckle, as usual, is the original New York Times review by Bosley Crowther, the epitome of the critic who had no idea what was going on in American movie-making at any point in time. In this case, Crowther didn't seem to understand the emergence of the film noir style, or, to the extent that he did understand it, he didn't like it:

But the very toughness of the picture is also weakness of its core, and the academic nature of its plotting limits its general appeal. The principal characters--an insurance salesman and a wicked woman, which Mr. MacMurray and Miss Stanwyck play--lack the attractiveness to render their fate of emotional consequences. And the fact that the story is told in flashback disposes its uncertainty. Miss Stanwyck gives a good surface performance of destructively lurid female, but Mr. MacMurray is a bit too ingenuous as the gent who falls precipitately under her spell. And the ease of his fall is also questionable. One look at the lady's ankles and he's cooked.

So he doesn't like toughness, unattractive main characters, flashbacks, lurid females and ingenuous guys who are suckers for them -- basically, he describes the entire noir style accurately and then sniffs at it. As so often in the '40s and '50s, it took the French critics to notice, and praise, what American moviemakers were doing.

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