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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.”

 

***

Regarded by many as the epitome of the film-noir stylistic norm. All at once cynical, sly, dark... a 'hard-boiled' suspense involving adulterous behavior, 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.

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 6th, 1944 - USA

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Criterion - Region FREE - 4K UHD

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

  

On Blu-ray:

  

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Criterion Spine #1126 -  Region FREE 4K Ultra HD / Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:51.756 (both)        
Video

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,793,923,562 bytes

Feature: 32,541,855,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.80 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.37:1 2160P 4K Ultra HD

Disc Size: 64,641,194,050 bytes

Feature: 64,400,194,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 67.19 Mbps

Codec: HEVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Bitrate 4K Ultra HD:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.37:1 2160P 4K Ultra HD

Disc Size: 64,641,194,050 bytes

Feature: 64,400,194,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 67.19 Mbps

Codec: HEVC Video

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,793,923,562 bytes

Feature: 32,541,855,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.80 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

4K Ultra HD

• Audio commentary featuring film critic Richard Schickel

 

Blu-ray 1

• Audio commentary featuring film critic Richard Schickel
• New interview with film scholar Noah Isenberg, editor of Billy Wilder on Assignment (17:19)
• New conversation between film historians Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith (31:23)
• Shadows of Suspense, a 2006 documentary on the making of Double Indemnity (37:57)
• Radio adaptations from 1945 (29:21) and 1950 (56:20)
• Trailer (2:14)

Blu-ray 2

• Billy, How Did You Do It?, a 1992 film by Volker Schlöndorff and Gisela Grischow featuring interviews with director Billy Wilder Part One - 59:41,Part Two - 1:01:31, Part Three - 1:01:07)

PLUS: An essay by critic Angelica Jade Bastién


Blu-ray Release Date: May 31st, 2022

Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 17

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Region FREE 4K UHD (June 2022): Okay, the encode is resolved and as our assumption the 2160P image with Dolby Vision HDR has similar contrast (brightness / darkness) as Criterion's new (and included) Blu-ray - it may be a semi-tone darker - richer, more consistent grain support and the best image - more notably dependent on your system. The bigger you project, the superior the visuals appear over every digital edition image to date. We've added four comparison captures - enough to get the idea. It's on a dual-layered 4K UHD disc with a bitrate approaching double their included Blu-ray of the feature. The 4K package is 3 discs - the 4K UHD with the highest resolution - it includes the Schickel  commentary and the two Blu-rays (and supplements) reviewed below. A Noir must-own.

***

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (April 2022): Criterion have transferred Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity to Blu-ray and 4K UHD (with Dolby Vision HDR.) Both are cited as being from a "New 4K digital restoration". The 4K UHD disc - that we do not have yet - will include the 2 Blu-rays that are available in this Blu-ray package. Being a highly anticipated title we couldn't wait to see what the transfer looked like and can assume it shares the contrast of the 1080P, if being more prominent and possibly balanced in the higher resolution. I am pleased to say that I really like this rendering... and I have seen the film more than a dozen times on digital. It is darker - actually whites can be brighter and black levels more pitch. Grain is heavier, which we find another very positive attribute. The darker look certainly suits the film presentation and it shows a remarkable difference from the much lighter Masters of Cinema Blu-ray from 2012. We've compared DVDs and the MoC and Universal Blu-rays HERE. There is some variation in the frame. Generally the 1.37:1 Criterion shows more information in the frame on the right edge and occasionally less on the top and left edge. Only in a couple of scenes (notable close-up of Jean Heather) did it look overly bright.

We will add 4K UHD captures to this review when we have that ability. Even if we had it, it would take a while to break the encode (generally after the release date - 6 weeks from the posting of this review.) Regardless, it will happen but if it has similar attributes to the new Criterion Blu-ray - we expect fans will be pleased.   

NOTE: We have added 68 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Criterion use a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. Double Indemnity has very few aggressive moments (the train etc.) and it comes through with surprising depth but is overall (dialgue) authentically flat. The score is by iconic Miklós Rózsa (The Green Cockatoo, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, The Killers, The Lost Weekend, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Shakedown) is very clean heightening tension and mood via the lossless transfer. It sounds pristine. Criterion offer optional English (SDH) subtitles on their Region 'A' / 'B' Blu-ray.

The Criterion Blu-ray offers the commentary by Richard Schickel from the 2006 Universal DVD. He brings up MacMurray's straight-laced persona and Stanwyck's inert sexuality plus her legendary Noir status. I enjoyed his input on the Chandler/Wilder screenplay/dialogue. It's excellent and worth revisiting. Included is a new 1/2 hour conversation between film noir scholars Eddie Muller and Imogen Sara Smith recorded by Criterion in February 2022. In it, they discuss why Double Indemnity is considered a "definitive" noir. Fans will enjoy a new 17-minute interview with film scholar Noah Isenberg, editor of Billy Wilder on Assignment: Dispatches from Weimar Berlin and Interwar Vienna. The Shadows of Suspense documentary (also on the 2006 DVD and MoC Blu-ray) is described as; "...essential input from Eddie Muller, James Ursini, Alain Silver, Drew Casper, William Friendkin and more." Lastly, on the first Blu-ray are Screen Guild and Lux Radio theatre audio programs. Double Indemnity was adapted as a radio play four times. Presented in he supplements are two of those broadcasts. The first is a March 5th,1945, broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck reprising their roles from the film for 1/2 hour. The second is an October 30th,1950, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, also starring MacMurray and Stanwyck running shy of an hour.

The second Blu-ray disc has a three-part program, originally broadcast in January 1992 as part of the BBC documentary program Arena. It was directed by Volker Schlondorff and Gisela Grischow. It features extensive interviews conducted by Schlondorff with director Billy Wilder and has been shown in numerous versions in several countries. It runs over three hours and is candid and illuminating to hear this master director talk of his craft and film in general.    

Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity is Noir royalty. The suspense is a slow build with the interplay of two self-serving characters remains an essential and integral part of the cycle. Lust, obsession, greed, femme-fatale enticement and there devastating unconscionable consequences permeate the sly dialogue. It's a masterpiece of dark cinema. The Criterion Blu-ray is wonderful from the dark, textured, rich image to the extensive supplements. This bodes exceptionally well fro the forthcoming 4K UHD. A must-own. Time to celebrate with a Bourbon.

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 

Blu-ray 2


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region FREE - 4K UHD BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 2, 4- PAL TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region FREE - 4K UHD BOTTOM

 

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region FREE - 4K UHD BOTTOM

 


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

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B'' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region FREE - 4K UHD BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


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

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


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

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


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

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 
Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

  

On Blu-ray:

  

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Criterion Spine #1126 -  Region FREE 4K Ultra HD / Region 'A' / 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

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