Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Double Indemnity (1944): Another classic that the Frederick area will miss out on

1944 Paramount promotional advertisement for
Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, featuring Fred MacMurray,
Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.

Billy Wilder's 1944 suspense film, Double Indemnity is one of the definitive films of the 1940's, and is considered by many as one of the true motion pictures in the "film noir" genre category.

It was adapted from James M. Cain's 1943 crime novel of the same name, which was originally featured as an eight-part story in Liberty Magazine.  Double Indemnity features Fred MacMurray as insurance salesman Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck as femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson, and Edward G. Robinson as investigator Barton Keyes.  This was not the first pairing of MacMurray and Stanwyck, the two were in a previous Paramount film four years earlier, the Preston Sturges Christmas comedy Remember The Night (1940).

I'm not going to give away the complete synopsis of Double Indemnity, due to a upcoming re-release of the film.  With its dark, suspenseful gritty overtones and intriguing moments throughout the film, Wilder's adaptation of Double Indemnity became a smash success when it was released in 1944.  The film received numerous Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Barbara Stanwyck), Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Screenplay (Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler) and Best Dramatic Score (Miklos Rozsa).

1944 Newspaper ad for the Paramount-owned cinema in Newark, New Jersey-
showcasing Double Indemnity (from a 1944 issue of Motion Picture Herald).
Fourteen years later after its theatrical release, Double Indemnity was one of many pre-48 Paramount sound feature films that were sold to Lew Wasserman's MCA for television distribution, along with  re-release/re-make rights.  Television audiences in the Frederick area (circa 1958) may have experienced viewing Double Indemnity along with many other vintage Paramount features in the MCA package, when Washington's WTOP-TV 9 (W*USA after 1986) and Baltimore's WBAL-TV 11 acquired the broadcast rights (according to an advertisement in the Lantern Media History Archive).  

It was remade in 1973 as a made-for-TV-movie by Universal Studios, with Richard Crenna (as Walter Neff), Samantha Eggar (as Phyllis Dietrichson), and Lee J. Cobb (as Barton Keyes).

Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity will never fail to disappoint.  It is one of the many interesting (and iconic) classic motion pictures of all-time.  If you've never seen it before, see it when you have the chance to.

SPECIAL REVIVAL SCREENING OF DOUBLE INDEMNITY NATIONWIDE:  Universal Studios, Turner Classic Movies and NCM Fathom Events will present a special revival screening of Double Indemnity (1944) in theaters nationwide on July 19th and July 20th at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM (all times eastern).

Yet unfortunately, the Frederick area will miss out on this gem.  Frederick's cinema venues, MDL Holiday Cinemas, and the "eyesore" that is known to many as Regal Cinemas' 16-plex "Westview" complex are not planning to screen this definitive classic,  Frederick's cinemas (excluding the Weinberg Center For The Performing Arts, which is closed due to air-conditioning system renovations) are missing out on this golden opportunity, to showcase classic films the way they were meant to be seen- on the big screen.  

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This may sound far-fetched to some, but I think it's past time that Frederick had another movie theater/cinema venue.

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The proprietor of "At The Matinee", Chris Hamby- welcomes your comments and suggestions on any post featured. NOTE: All comments are monitored by the author.