Just saw Double Indemnity with Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G Robinson. I love old films like that. I watch not just for the acting, Barbara is wonderfully wicked in this film, but also for the artistic play of light and dark. The cinematographer has to know what the craft is all about to do a good black and white film. The themes are usually pretty black and white too in film noir. There’s good guys and there’s bad guys, but the really good films have some grey areas too.
The reluctant hero is one of those grey areas. Sometimes, like in Double Indemnity, the hero is the guy who starts walking the straight and narrow, gets side tracked by something or in this case someone but comes ’round in the end to confess and conquer the demons. The ones on the inside as well as the outside.
Watching this interplay in the dark is itself kind of exciting. It helps to draw us into the divine battle. Sometimes we root for the dark and sometimes we root for the light. I know–most people find this pretty cheesy. While it is a great form of escapism, our most beloved film art says a lot about us. We are not just all good or all bad–there’s tons of grey area in there. That is where we live most of the time. Real life is never as simple as reel life and that gifted cinematographer is not here making us look wonderful!
- Tramp Stamp/Double Indemnity (1944) (jrfilmschool.com)
- 14 Classic Film Noirs to Feed Your ‘L.A. Noire’ Fix (moviefone.com)