Quick Take: An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator`s suspicions.
Phantomís review: The title of this Film Noir classic is borrowed from an insurance term, defined in a clause of a policy that provides for payment of double the face value of the contract in case of accidental death. In a film with such a title, made years before Fred MacMurray's sqeaky-clean episodes as the father of My Three Sons, it's inevitable that a murder of sinister proportion is about to occur.
The story is about a good-guy-gone-bad insurance agent, having gone bad as a result of an affair with the wife of a client, Phyllis Dietrichson, played by a very blonde Barbara Stanwyck. It is told in the familiar flashback style and begins as Walter Neff, the insurance agent (played by MacMurray), is dictating a memo of confession to insurance investigator, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). He tells of his chance meeting with Dietrichson and how (in retrospect, from his perspective) she skillfully seduces and lures him into her web of evil.
As the film moves forward, Neff and Dietrichson must pull off their murderous plot. Suspense is woven throughout the story as the devious pair navigate around the suspicious eye of Dietrichson's stepdaughter (Lola Dietrichson played by Jean Heather), who suspects Phyllis of having earlier killed her mother, and the professionally sleuthful senses of Keyes, who has honed his expertise from having worked many years in the business.
In spite of the style of the day when the good guys prevail, Billy Wilder does a magnificent job of conveying this classic story of the trappings and consequences of lust and greed. This film, about how a well-meaning person can be a player in and fall prey to betrayal, is a must see!
Robinson, Edward G.