This year is the 75th anniversary of one of the earliest (and quite possibly the first ever) noir films: Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson.
This movie won our Film Noir tournament (beating out amazing titles and instant classics like The Maltese Falcon, Vertigo, and Chinatown), but for good reason. The writing talent alone, condensed in this single movie! Director Billy Wilder (who would prove his bonafides again with Sunset Boulevard) was a co-writer of this film. But man did he have some absolute legends helping him out. I’ll let Roger Ebert explain:
The story was written in the 1930s by James M. Cain, the hard-boiled author of The Postman Always Rings Twice. A screenplay kicked around Hollywood, but the Hays Office nixed it for “hardening audience attitudes toward crime.” By 1944, Wilder thought he could film it. Cain wasn’t available, so he hired Raymond Chandler to do the screenplay. Chandler, whose novel The Big Sleep Wilder loved, turned up drunk, smoked a smelly pipe, didn’t know anything about screenplay construction, but could put a nasty spin on dialogue.
For founding fathers of film noir, you can’t do much better than Cain, Wilder, and Chandler.
Here’s a sampling of some of the movie’s choice quotes:
- “I couldn’t hear my own footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.”
- “I was thinking about that dame upstairs and the way she had looked at me, and I wanted to see her again, close, without that silly staircase between us.”
- “No, I never loved you, Walter, not you or anybody else. I’m rotten to the heart. I used you just as you said. That’s all you ever meant to me. Until a minute ago, when I couldn’t fire that second shot.”
Fellas… that is some proper ass noir writing. While watching this, my brother-in-law commented, “I love the way they talk.” Nothing else needs be said.
Which leads us to today’s prompt! What is your favorite piece of movie dialogue?
All other movie talk is welcome! Like, how was that movie with the talking toys, fellow Avocados?
…. what do you mean, which one?
Building Entertainment: The Animated Films of the Walt Disney Studio. Live-action edition. The Love Bug
You must be logged in to post a comment.