Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity
I love it when things just magically work out. Coming back to school, having to change my schedule around, being ill, sleeping in and missing what I consider to be my most important class? Not fun.
However, last night I caught Double Indemnity (1944) and Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) back to back thanks to my Netflix account and I couldn't have chosen a much better pairing of films. Let me get this out in the open: I really like Woody Allen movies. Clearly, not all are created equal and I don't like All of them, but generally speaking, the ones I do like, I Really enjoy. The characters are clever and witty and odd, and the women have souls and not necessarily clothing that is there solely to comment on the size of their breasts and so forth. I also like a film noir now and again. I love the shadows in old black and white films and the glamorous femme fatales. They're usually sort of melodramatic and cheesy, but fun, and sometimes they happen to be really good movies.
My two little complaints about Double Indemnity are small and silly. Firstly, Humphrey Bogart and Orson Welles are my favored noir boys. I'm not much for Glenn Ford and Fred MacMurray sort of leaves me bored. What can I say? The charisma of the male star can win or lose me on a film. Does this make me shallow? If so, all I can say is: I don't care. Secondly, Barbara Stanwyck should have stayed a brunette. These opinions entered, still an enjoyable picture involving a murderous woman, and a man who goes weak for her and makes a lot of bad choices. Yay!
This film links well with Manhattan Murder Mystery because, no kidding, within about the first twenty minutes, the main characters, Larry and Carol (played by Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) go see Double Indemnity at a movie theatre in New York City. When the couple returns home to their apartment, they bump into neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. House who live down the hall. The wife invites them in for coffee. They are an idyllically sweet, happy, older couple. Larry and Carol leave and Bam!, the next day, Mrs. House has died of a heart attack. The perhaps over-imaginative Carol thinks Mr. House acts much too casually about the death of his wife and is convinced that he murdered her. Larry (who is very much the Woody Allen character he often plays...but of course, this rarely gets old with me) thinks Carol is crazy, until such and such happens. Throw in Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Joy Behar* and that guy who used to play the bad guy on Alias**, and it's a great big, 'Woody Allen likes noir and good jazz and he and Diane are adorable'-Party.*** What's not to love?
*My grandma loves The View.
**Ron Rifkin. I used to love Alias.
***Pardon my lazy punctuation.