TCM and Fathom Events will be screening my buddy Billy Wilder‘s film noir classic Double Indemnity in select theaters July 19th and 20th. If you haven’t seen it on the big screen, here’s your chance! And if you have, like me, seen it 20+ times, it’s still worth a trip to the theater. It’s a Film History class regular, and one of the few I can count on for students to enjoy.
It’s like a glorious chrome-trimmed, 8-cylinder, gas guzzler, postwar, American luxury sedan of a movie — anything can happen in it, but whatever happens, happens cool.
Double Indemnity was neither the first nor last of the films later labeled “noir” by postwar French film critics, but it is probably one of the most famous. Based on a novel by one of the hardest of the hard-boiled novelists, James M. Cain, with a script by Billy Wilder and the most eloquent of the noir novelists, Raymond Chandler the film features some of the coolest cold characters of the genre with razor-sharp dialogue and bitingly hilarious double-entendre. It also sports glorious black and white cinematography by the much-acclaimed John H. Seitz which captures the burn and sear of Los Angeles in the summer. (Seitz also photographed Wilder’s Lost Weekend and Sunset Blvd.). Then there are the amazing Barbara Stanwyck, the smarmy Fred MacMurray, and the cigar-chomping, ulcer-ridden Edward G. Robinson. They do not make movies like this any more. Seriously. It’s like a glorious chrome-trimmed, 8-cylinder, gas guzzler, postwar, American luxury sedan of a movie — anything can happen in it, but whatever happens, happens cool.
In addition to having known (ok, vaguely known) the film’s director, I am also well acquainted with one of its featured players: the Glendale train depot.
I commute from that depot to the Orange depot adjacent to Chapman University. The funny thing is, it’s façade and interior are in their beautiful, original state. But the south face of the building (above), which is all you can really see of it in the film, is clearly not its most interesting side.
So give yourself a summer treat and go see this cool sizzler on the big screen, and the next time you’re in Glendale — preferably at twilight — stop by the depot for a glimpse of Hollywood and California history. (Atwater Village is just around the corner with reasonable dining options).