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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Billy Wilder
USA 1944

Double Indemnity is the dazzling, quintessential film noir whose enormous popular success and seven Oscar nominations catapulted Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment) into the very top tier of Hollywood’s writer-directors. Adapted from a novella by James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice), co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye), Double Indemnity remains the hardest-boiled of delectations.


Insurance hawker Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) gets seduced by some other man’s wife: a bored, sex-starved Barbara Stanwyck done up in lorry-grille wig and a pair of lips like wine grapes smashed in candle-wax. She wants to off her better half and collect on his policy, but spitfire claims-adjuster Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) smells a rat – or at least the cheap perfume all over that Dietrichson file.


Neff himself ties up the twisting plot in a neat bow: “We were talking about automobile insurance, only you were thinking about murder. And I was thinking about that anklet.” The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity for the first time anywhere in the world on
Blu-ray.

***

Regarded by many as the epitome of the film-noir stylistic norm. All at once cynical, sly, dark... a 'hard-boiled' suspense involving adulterous behaviour, graft and murder. The plot was taken from James Cain's 1943 short story 'Three of a Kind' first published in a pulp magazine. With the help of legendary novelist Raymond Chandler, director Wilder adapted it to the screen.

 

With Stanwyck as the comely femme fatale seductress, MacMurray as the duped sap and Edward G. Robinson as the street-wise superior with intuition, all the pieces fit - almost too perfectly. If it lacks anywhere, it seems to have bypassed the harder edge of criminal low-life's, ner-do-wells and the almost neo-realistic elements that many that the style maintain. Still for Noir fans, it is an icon, a rare and comforting gem to always return to.  out of   

  Posters

Theatrical Release: September 6th, 1944 - USA

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Comparison:

Universal  - Region 2,4 - PAL vs. Image Entertainment (OOP) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal Studios (Special Edition) - Region 1- NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Universal '70th Anniversary' Limited Edition - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL LEFT

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

Also available in a Universal 100th Anniversary DVD (same transfer) with Digital Copy included:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 2,4 - PAL Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 44 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Also available in a Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook:

Runtime 1:43:08 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:08 1:47:28 1:47:38.451 1:47:39.911
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.34 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:34,371,265,603 bytes

Feature: 32,129,371,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:38,070,009,852 bytes

Feature: 30,601,850,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  PAL

Bitrate:  Image

Bitrate:  Universal SE NTSC

Bitrate: MoC  Blu-ray

Bitrate: Universal  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)  

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1176 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1176 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 636 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 636 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 835 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 835 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1828 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1828 kbps /
24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB: DTS Audio Spanish 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / 24-bit
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN
-4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN
-4dB / Dolby Surround

Subtitles None None  English, Spanish, French, none  English (SDH), none English (SDH), Spanish, French none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 8-page liner notes with essay by Glenn Mitchell
 
DVD Release Date: July 11th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2000

Snap Case
Chapters: 12
 

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction by Robert Osborne (2:30)

• "Shadows of Suspense" documentary (37:53)
• Audio Commentary from Film Historian Richard Schickel
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian / Screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman
• Double Indemnity TV Movie (1973, 75 mins.)
 
DVD Release Date: August 22nd, 2006

Book-style double thick case (see images below)
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:34,371,265,603 bytes

Feature: 32,129,371,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by film historian Nick Redman and screenwriter Lem Dobbs
• Shadows of Suspense — a 2006 documentary featuring film historians, directors, and authors discussing the making of Double Indemnity (37:57)
• 1945 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of Double Indemnity, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray (29:21)
• The original theatrical trailer (2:15)
• Isolated music and effects track
• 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a 1976 interview by John Allyn with Billy Wilder; an extract from a 1976 interview with James M. Cain comparing his original serial with Wilder’s film adaptation; documentation of novelist and Double Indemnity co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler’s attitude toward working within the Hollywood studio system; an extract from the original screenplay depicting the excised “death chamber” ending; a note on the restoration; and rare archival imagery



Blu-ray Release Date: June 25th, 201
2
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Universal
 

1.33:1 - 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size:38,070,009,852 bytes

Feature: 30,601,850,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Commentary with Film Historian Richard Schickel
• Commentary with screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman
• Introduction by Robert Osborne (2:30 in 480i)
• Shadows of Suspense (37:56 in 480i)
• Double Indemnity (1973) TV Movie (1:13:53 - in 480i)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:16 in 480i)

UltraViolet



Blu-ray Release Date: April 15th, 2014

Standard
Blu-ray Case inside custom cardboard case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION Universal 70th Anniversary Limited Edition - Region FREE Blu-ray - April 2014:  Firstly, obtaining matching captures was very difficult as there was a timeline on the Universal. I did the best I could.

Well, well, well - despite the near parity in technical details of the new Universal transfer as compared to the Masters of Cinema rendering - there are some fairly big differences in the image quality. Between the two there is some movement in the frame - sometimes less information in the frame (a notable amount) occasionally more, less grain and richer black levels on the US BD. The overall presentation is darker. Have they 'manipulated'? quite possibly but I didn't find any excessive waxiness (perhaps a shade in one late scene) or unnatural flatness to the image. I thought it looked very solid from standard viewing - just different (see Brian's comments below). Personally, I like the grain textures of the UK disc but I can see the appeal, for some, in the smoother, darker image of the Universal. Heck, for some, the additional information in the frame is enough of a deal-breaker - so to each his own. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing. Those projecting and have some strong sensitivities - may find noticeable flaws in the Universal. To be honest - I really couldn't. I think it is kind of cool that they are, so, different.

Brain tells us on our FB page: "Safe bet each Blu-ray uses different elements. I don't detect any DNR, which leads me to believe Universal used either the o-neg, or more likely a 1st gen master interpositive. Likely for their release MoC had to use the best available to them, perhaps from the BFI or some other archive, using either a dupe neg or a reference print, but definitely a generation or two removed from the Universal source. This difference is most apparent if you compare the caps of Edward G. Robinson against the windows. The grain structure is very different. And if they used a dupe, it would explain the cropping which likely would've happened when the dupe was made; MoC would never intentionally crop a transfer. Both did very nice jobs based on the materials available to them. " (Thanks Brian!)

James White tells us in email: "Just a quick comment regarding your comparison review of the Double Indemnity Universal BD with the MOC. As you may be aware, I did some work on MOC's master for their release, and wanted to clarify that the source HD master came direct from Universal with additional grading and cleanup overseen by yours truly, which we thought necessary as it appeared that only minimal cleanup had been applied by Universal at that time. (All this info is in the MOC booklet, so there shouldn't be any speculation as to where our master came from) I haven't seen the new release from Universal, but I would guess that the original source elements may be the same, but Universal did additional grading and cleanup that took the appearance in a slightly different direction than ours. One of the key issues we were most concerned about Reuther ours was preserving the original grain structure, which I'm still pleased with on our MOC version." (Thanks James!)

Audio-wise - the Universal is a shade more robust - notable in the depth of Miklós Rózsa score. Universal offer a Spanish DUB (not lossless) and offer subtitles - directly underneath the character speaking (see sample below). The US Blu-ray is region FREE - as all Universal discs tend to be.

We get the two commentaries from the 2006 Universal DVD. The first, and excellent, with film historian Richard Schickel and the second - also brimming with information - with screenwriter Lem Dobbs and Film Historian Nick Redman. There is a brief introduction by Robert Osborne, the Shadows of Suspense documentary (also on the 2006 DVD and MoC Blu-ray described below; "...essential input from Eddie Muller, James Ursini, Alain Silver, Drew Casper, William Friendkin and more. The Richard Schickel commentary is good , if a little dry - he brings up MacMurray's straight-laced persona and Stanwyck's inert sexuality and legendary Noir status. I enjoyed his input on the Chandler/Wilder screenplay/dialogue..." and the 1973 TV Movie Double Indemnity (as well a duplicate from the old SD) with Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, and Samantha Eggar plus a theatrical trailer. The package includes postcard-sized envelope with a US reproduction theatrical poster, 3 US Lobby cards reproductions and an image of the alternate 'gas chamber' ending. There is s leaflet with the Includes UltraViolet code for stream and download. So nothing new at all - except the cards and ability to download for a portable device etc.

There you have it - a definite option of an absolute must-own Noir film in HD. I suspect that many Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray fans will certainly appreciate this 1080P image.

***

ADDITION Masters of Cinema Blu-ray - June 2012: Just brilliant! The new Masters of Cinema 1080P transfer far exceeded my expectations. I found the more prevalent and consistent grain the biggest attribute - but there is more. The contrast layering is superb and the Blu-ray exudes a powerful film-like presence. There is more information in the frame - notably at the bottom edge. There are some inconsistencies with the source - but these are the same ones I noted on the DVD(s) - ex. background/shadow flickering in the first scene of Neff's confession. The flickering is more visible in the darker sequences. The MoC is brighter and more detailed - I was mesmerized by my viewing. Fabulous!

Audio goes lossless too with the Miklós Rózsa score giving off noir vibes all on its own (offered as an isolated track on the Blu-ray.) There are optional English (SDH) subtitles - see sample - on the region 'B'-locked disc.

We get the Redman / Dobbs commentary from Universal's 2006 DVD as well as the 37-minute, 2006, documentary Shadows of Suspense featuring film historians, directors, and authors discussing the making of Double Indemnity, plus a 1945 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of Double Indemnity, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray running a 1/2 hour. There is an original theatrical trailer and the aforementioned optional 'Isolated' music and effects track. Masters of Cienma have included a wonderful 36-page booklet featuring a 1976 interview by John Allyn with Billy Wilder; an extract from a 1976 interview with James M. Cain comparing his original serial with Wilder’s film adaptation; documentation of novelist and Double Indemnity co-screenwriter Raymond Chandler’s attitude toward working within the Hollywood studio system; an extract from the original screenplay depicting the excised “death chamber” ending; a note on the restoration; and rare archival imagery.

Another in the long list of reasons for those on this side of the pond to indulge in a region FREE Blu-ray player. I've seen the film on many occasions but this 1080P viewing was very special - close to seeing it for the first time. Our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Universal - Region 1 Special Edition - August 06' - well, it appears as though Noir fans have waited a long time for someone to put this film out digitally with the respect it deserves. Image Entertainment opportunistically released it in 2000 where it quickly went out-of-print. There were no extras and the image quality was lacking - dirty, contrast boosted and grainy. Last year (2005) we got our hopes up for the Universal (European) PAL version which again went bare-bones (we were in disbelief) and was severely over-digitized - the image was cleaner but vast amounts of detail were lost. Finally Universal (NTSC) attached it to their 'Legacy Series' - a 2-disc Special Edition with two astute commentaries, a documentary feature, plus the television remake with Richard Crenna.

How it looks - we have gone through this as meticulously as we can and the results are positive - the new SE is superior than the two previous editions. Sharper with no discernable contrast boosting - I still have no explanation for the frame movement of the PAL edition, but composition looks appropriate in the new Special edition. There is still some dirt and flickering but not as visible as previously seen. I watched it on a plasma system and it was very acceptable.

How it sounds - I hear no intense improvement over the other editions although the Image Entertainment DVD had a few pops and an occasional light hiss. Universal have added an optional Spanish DUB to the new SE.

Supplements - It wouldn't be hard to beat out the previous two releases as they were devoid of any digital extras, and I am happy to report the 38 minute documentary 'Shadows of Suspense' is excellent viewing. There is essential input from Eddie Muller, James Ursini, Alain Silver, Drew Casper, William Friendkin and more. The Richard Schickel commentary is good , if a little dry - he brings up MacMurray's straight-laced persona and Stanwyck's inert sexuality and legendary Noir status. I enjoyed his input on the Chandler/Wilder screenplay/dialogue. There are a couple of gaps (where the characters take over) and his voice is a shade monotone, but overall he delivers the type of information Noir fans have been craving. BUT the 2nd commentary (Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman) is fantastic!! Very frank and modern interpretations involving sex and innuendo - details on Chandler/Wilder/Stanwyck... I'm sure fans of this film will be in nirvana with all the great supplements. As far as I am concerned they could throw out the second disc (it only contains the television version) - but the first disc is pure gold.

Summation -  This will easily get some votes for DVD of the Year. I'm happy with the film presentation but the extras features are really above and beyond. It supports a theory that I have that great DVDs support immensely deeper appreciation of film. This is a wonderful case in point. Although I always enjoyed Double Indemnity I had it on the outside circle of Top 10 Noirs - but that probably change. This Special Edition DVD is a must-own...

Gary Tooze     

***

Universal (PAL) - Well honestly I went back to the menu a few times to see if I missed some extras. I didn't - there are none aside from an 8-page liner notes booklet with information about Wilder, some photos and an essay by Glenn Mitchell -"The Making of Double Indemnity". Not even any subtitles. Pretty bare bones considering what people were expecting.

We reviewed the original, now way out-of-print, DVD from Image Entertainment in Region 1 HERE and in direct comparison (see three captures below) this Universal DVD is definitely softer. Acceptable grayscale and black levels but overall disappointing. Cleaner, no edge enhancement. Less visible grain but it appears cropped on the left and bottom edges where the Image Entertainment DVD is cropped on the top and right edges. Sheesh! Like the NTSC disc no digital extras - If ever a film cries out for some discussion or featurettes, even a trailer would suffice, this is it. I submit to you that Universal does not know its market very well. I'll bet they sell a tonne of these discs and a few extra dollars spent in some valued extras would have been very appropriate. No subtitles is another sign of DVD production laziness.

NOTE: This is the first disc that I noticed the PAL speedup in the dialogue with MacMurray's voice being a semi-time higher... those very familiar with the film may also notice this.  

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

 

(Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL - LEFT vs. Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

Universal Studios - Special Edition - Region 1- NTSC

 

Universal Studios - Special Edition - Region 1- NTSC - Disc 2

 

Universal Studios - Special Edition packaging

 

 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray

 

Universal - Region FREE Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle sample

 

NOTE: Only Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC and Blu-rays offer subtitles

 

 

1) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Universal Studios ( SE) - Region 1- NTSC - THIRD

4) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' Blu-ray TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

Also available in a Universal 100th Anniversary DVD (same transfer) with Digital Copy included:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 2,4 - PAL Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 44 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 





 

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