February 12, 2008

Oakley Tapola Double Indemnity

It is my belief that film noir acts as both an influential, highly descriptive filmic style and a discourse. The style can exist outside of the discourse because it can be used to amplify moods within a film that doesn’t necessarily concern itself within the messages that film noir film represents but the influence of the messages within the style create the discourse so a film that isn’t necessarily considered film noir is influenced by the historical context of the discourse and that’s why the film noir techniques have a particular impact. Film noir has become more than just a film style because it emerged as a way to create freer films. Film noir was a way to undermine the regulations that stunted the creative capacity of film being created around the WWII period, when (racial) tensions in American were incredibly high. Film noir was retaliation. Film noir employs many filmic techniques in order to display darkness and evil encapsulating the main character. There are consistently downward slashing shadows that appear as prison bars. Ominous urban settings are consistently the focal point of action (and subsequent corruption). Minorities are only ever portrayed in the service industry and the white men in charge are always quick to fail, their fate is sealed by the soul contaminating evils of the ancient world (depicted by flashbacks and lines describing the awareness of their downfall). And women are always misleading and lead to noir is a discourse because it accurately represents the stresses of the time through specific cinematography and storylines.

February 10, 2008

Double Indemnity & Film Noir by Jenna Johnson

I agree that film noir could be considered a genre in itself. When referring to things such as dark cinematography, foreboding situations, violence, sexual innuendo, and other things, “Double Indemnity? seemed to be a straightforward example of so-called film noir in every respect. All of these things contributing to the idea of film noir form a distinct style that surrounds the particular content of social discourse included in such films. The plot in itself would perhaps be filed under a mystery in literary terms, but the way in which the characters were presented, the scenes shot and lit, and the dialogue heard (and inferred) made it much more than that. In reference to other films, one large part different about this movie was the overall atmosphere as far as lighting is concerned. Much of it took place during the night, as dark ideas of murder require darkness for secrecy. This metaphorical effect is one thing that seems to be specific of film noir.

More so, the femme fatale as an aspect of film noir was the predominant force of this film, as the character Phyllis starts the initial conflict/plot of wanting to murder her husband. She acts by the book, luring Walter in under the guise of love and lust only to betray him in the end. She is selfless, seductive, conspiring, and convincing, giving the general feeling that women will act deceptive when they are after what they want-- not a very positive stereotype in this case, yet very much so a classic femme fatale of film noir.

Double Indemnity - Andrew Probelski

Double Indemnity is my second favorite film noir, right behind Hitchcock's Notorious. The dialogue in this film is some of the slickest and wittiest I have ever heard. Walter Neff is a perfectly written character, and every other one-liner he spouts out makes me laugh at how clever and smooth this guy is. Phyllis is a definite Femme-Fatale, for she is as wickedly cruel as she is sweet and sexy. She is clearly a negative representation of women in general, but that is missing the point of the Femme Fatale in my opinion. The Femme Fatale is simply there to add spice to the film, not to be taken as a sweeping generalization of women in general. Come on folks, does she make the story interesting? Of course! She turns the gun on Walter when everything else falls apart, which I can't blame her for. Sure, she manipulated this poor sucker by luring him in with her sex appeal, but that is great entertainment! If you enjoyed this watch Notorious.

Double Indemnity - Andrew Probelski

Double Indemnity is my second favorite film noir, right behind Hitchcock's Notorious. The dialogue in this film is some of the slickest and wittiest I have ever heard. Walter Neff is a perfectly written character, and every other one-liner he spouts out makes me laugh at how clever and smooth this guy is. Phyllis is a definite Femme-Fatale, for she is as wickedly cruel as she is sweet and sexy. She is clearly a negative representation of women in general, but that is missing the point of the Femme Fatale in my opinion. The Femme Fatale is simply there to add spice to the film, not to be taken as a sweeping generalization of women in general. Come on folks, does she make the story interesting? Of course! She turns the gun on Walter when everything else falls apart, which I can't blame her for. Sure, she manipulated this poor sucker by luring him in with her sex appeal, but that is great entertainment! If you enjoyed this watch Notorious.

Film Noir and Minorities - Jon Marshalla

An interesting idea that did not completely occur to me until reading "Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight" is the racial messages that are present in film noir. Unlike other films of the time, film noir focused on the "dark side" of the city and urban environment. In the 1940's, many whites had migrated from the cities to the suburbs, leaving the cities filled with minorities, which in turn fueled the stereotypes and racism present in that time. In Double Indemnity, the setting is also an urban environment. This allows the filmmakers to contrast the "white" environment with the more urban "black" environment. Avila points out that "morally corrupt white folks who inhabit the noir city...often are viewed alongside black service workers...suggesting their ease within the city's black underworld." Due to racism, Neff's interaction with blacks in the city, in a sense, "compromise his whiteness." Blacks were viewed as inferior and much more prone to criminal activity, so it is not surprising that the filmmakers use this interaction along with the dark lighting to portray corruptness.

In my opinion, in film noir like Double Indemnity this use of dark lighting and interaction with blacks serves as an aid to the civil rights movement. While Neff's character is an evil murderer who loses everything in the end, he is also the lead role and the story is told from his point of view, showing that he was still human like every one of us. This type of film allows the viewer to relate to an otherwise repulsive character, and in turn, because of his association with minorities, lessens the stereotypes of minorities as less human.

Double Indemnity - Anthony Zerka

I do not believe that film noir should be considered a movie genre, but as a sub-genre to help illustrate a movie scene. Having film noir be a genre itself will not be relevant as it depicts the setting, tone, and mood of the story taking place rather then what category of genre it falls under. The way the ending ends in a noir are usually sad or watching the hero, or in this case, the villain lose. This is how the story is being portrayed, not how is categorized. In Double Indemnity, the movie portrayed as being a dark, iniquity as the main characters think of a way to kill a man and get away with the insurance money. The main characters are listed as middle-class and living in a well-rounded society where extra money is not needed. I would only assume that after World War II the people of America were still scared, tired, and suspicious on whom they can trust. This movie is far from the notion of helping the American people relieve this type of “post war pressure? as many other Hollywood movies were trying to bring back the optimism to the Americans. In Double Indemnity, you see Phyllis being portrayed as a miserable wreck that is driven by money. Walter on the other hand is shown in the beginning as the underdog in this society and gets sexually motivated by Phyllis to commit murder. The social force of America at the time was in need of money. Coming back from a long, devastating war and recovering from the Great Depression as jobs being taken by the people who did not go war only made it harder to find an employer. I would only assume that the American people were looking to get money any way possible. Phyllis is looked as an independent woman that would persuade men into doing her dirty work by creating sexual tension. She is a negative influence on woman as it correlates with the post-war fear and anti-trust amongst others.

Double Indeminity-Cassandra Johnson

I would have to say that film noir is a genre however broad it may be. I feel that it is a genre because it has characteristics specific to the type of film it is and these characteristics provoke certain kinds of emotions. In most comedy movies people laugh and feel care free or generally happy. In horror movies we typically feel a sense of fright or anticipation. An uneasy or awkward feeling seems to accompany film noir. The contrast of black and white, the shadows and small spaces are the cause for these emotions. The dark eerie urban setting and the musical transgressions throughout the film also play a key role in distinguishing film noir. The very obvious subservient portrayal of African Americans is also an element of film noir. The only time you see an African American throughout the film is when they are doing things like washing the car, cleaning the office, or carrying luggage.

Another element of film noir is the role of the femme fatale and Phyllis Dietrichson fills that role perfectly. At first I felt sense of sympathy for Phyllis. She manipulates the audience as well as Walter Neff into thinking that she is a victim of her very unfortunate circumstances and her extremely mean husband. You almost can't blame her for just throwing the idea out there... Throughout the film I think Phyllis's true intentions become clearer. The very first step of the murder plot is for Walter to go talk to Phyllis's husband about insurance. Then we get a first-hand look at the "monster" she has to deal with. He doesn't seem to be a first rate husband by any means, but he certainly didn't deserve to be murdered. Towards the end Phyllis is exposed for the feme fatale she really is. However easy it did seem to be for Walter Neff to be manipulated, (I mean he only met the woman twice and had the murder all plotted out by their third encounter) she did manipulate him with her undeniable beauty, the promise of love, and her seductive ways.

Double Indemnity's Double Import

The caste of Double Indemnity featured many supporting people of color. While the main characters were white there were several appearances throughout the film of various ethnicities. While film noir generally features minorities in “meager and misery-laden roles subservient to institutions servicing white America? their treatment in this film was not so apparent. There was the African American ticket taker on the train and the car washer in the garage he used as an alibi. There was also the house maid, all subservient roles but the film portrayed them as happy not down trodden oppressed. There was also a white elevator man and a white ticket collector on the train. So while the minorities were shown as serving the white establishment it was with a smile and shared with white workers.
This makes sense for the time. Racial inequalities were still apparent and for the most part legal. But there was a growing movement to increase the presence of different groups in Hollywood and the increasing power of organizations that protested offensive stereotypical treatments. So the inclusion of various people of color was a wise choice. But the studios also had to be careful to not antagonize their white target audience; hence the nonthreatening roles and subservient demeanor. The car washer in particular fell into the “smiling uncle tom? stereotype that has been a part of America’s popular culture since slavery; the happy helper that ‘knows their place’ and is content with it. It assuages any guilt the audience might feel at the limited roles and minimizes any anxieties about a racial uprising.
Nyssa Shawstad

Cameron White: Film Noir

First off I want to say that I thought the film Double Indemnity was brilliant portrayal of film noir. One theme of film noir that was very apparent through the film the use of "black and white" as a way to portray "good and evil." At the beginning of the film Walter Neff goes to Phyllis's house to sell her insurance. At this point in the film Phyllis comes off as a very genuinely kind lady and is wearing a white dress which symbolizes "good." After Phyllis finds out about the accidental insurance policy she uses her good looks and kind personality to seduce Mr. Neff into thinking that she is in love with him along with that her husband is a terrible man that treats her with no respect. This is "femme fatale," at its finest. As the film goes on Phyllis turns from wearing white attire to black showing the evil side, which we find out are her true colors. An example where she wears the color black is on the night she kills her husband. Film Noir was also used in the killing through the use of music. The music was very loud and fast, which I believe was a way to let the viewer be aware something bad is about to happen.
White and black also played another role in the film when it came to African Americans as actors during the 1940's and 1950's. During this time in history segregation between whites and black was prevalent. As discussed in lecture whites lived in the cites while blacks lived in urban areas (Eric Avilo). The same sort of things were happening in the film industry, white played the main roles while blacks and other minorities had the roles of maids and butlers. Walter Wright was the spokes person for blacks to help them get better roles in films. An example of this from Double Indemnity is how Phyllis has a maid working for her.
I really enjoyed this film because of the use of film noir and how the producer made it so easy to follow.

Week 3 Double Indemnity -- Colin McGuire

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s movie, Double Indemnity. My favorite part was Walter’s excessive use of “baby? throughout the movie.

I would have to argue against the statement that film noir is not a genre. Film noir is defined by moods, lighting, and visual styles and is a category of film in its own that differs from other genres. I would agree that film noir crosses over a few boundaries of other genre’s by combining defining aspects of them, but is still its own genre. For instance, Double Indemnity could be classified under certain genres as drama or crime to name a couple. But the movie contains many aspects that define film noir. The constant use of shadows, dark and light contrasts, appropriate music, and femme fatal gives the movie a feel different from the norm horror or drama movie.

In lecture, a few terms used to describe film noir were an anti-hero, corruptness, and sexual innuendo. Double Indemnity contained all three of these. Walter, the main character appears to be coming to the rescue of Phyllis in the beginning of the movie to save her from her abusive and absent husband. Yet it turns out that Walter was being used and it turns more to the fact that he has just helped murder a girl’s father, not a husband. The next two terms, corruptness and sexual innuendo, describe Phyllis’ role in Double Indemnity. She takes an honest insurance salesman and uses her femme fatal characteristics to corrupt his sense of right and wrong. She flirts, seduces, and tells Walter she loves him to get her way and plan accomplished. She had an angelic face, but was sexually malicious. As Walter killed Mr. Dietrichson, she just starred straight ahead without emotion. In reference to Phyllis, Walter said, “No nerves, no tears, not even a blink of the eye.?

As said in lecture, this movie was a model for other movies and started a trend. I was not censored by the government at the point in time when media ws dominated with pictures of D-Day, FDR, and Hiroshima. Double indemnity was the “red meat? of the future movies of its genre.

Week 3 Double Indemnity -- Colin McGuire

Again, I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s movie, Double Indemnity. My favorite part was Walter’s excessive use of “baby? throughout the movie.

I would have to argue against the statement that film noir is not a genre. Film noir is defined by moods, lighting, and visual styles and is a category of film in its own that differs from other genres. I would agree that film noir crosses over a few boundaries of other genre’s by combining defining aspects of them, but is still its own genre. For instance, Double Indemnity could be classified under certain genres as drama or crime to name a couple. But the movie contains many aspects that define film noir. The constant use of shadows, dark and light contrasts, appropriate music, and femme fatal gives the movie a feel different from the norm horror or drama movie.

In lecture, a few terms used to describe film noir were an anti-hero, corruptness, and sexual innuendo. Double Indemnity contained all three of these. Walter, the main character appears to be coming to the rescue of Phyllis in the beginning of the movie to save her from her abusive and absent husband. Yet it turns out that Walter was being used and it turns more to the fact that he has just helped murder a girl’s father, not a husband. The next two terms, corruptness and sexual innuendo, describe Phyllis’ role in Double Indemnity. She takes an honest insurance salesman and uses her femme fatal characteristics to corrupt his sense of right and wrong. She flirts, seduces, and tells Walter she loves him to get her way and plan accomplished. She had an angelic face, but was sexually malicious. As Walter killed Mr. Dietrichson, she just starred straight ahead without emotion. In reference to Phyllis, Walter said, “No nerves, no tears, not even a blink of the eye.?

As said in lecture, this movie was a model for other movies and started a trend. I was not censored by the government at the point in time when media ws dominated with pictures of D-Day, FDR, and Hiroshima. Double indemnity was the “red meat? of the future movies of its genre.

Kris Jones' Double Indemnity

It has been said that film noir is not a genre, but I couldn't disagree more. I find it pretty interesting that there are people who would actually argue against the fact that film noir is, in fact, a genre all its own. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word genre as "a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content." Now, if film noir isn't characterized by a particular style and/or form, I'm not sure what is. Film noir is a type of media defined by its stylish sense of mystery, cleverness, and underlying sexuality, and just the fact that several films could be categorized under this definition is sufficient evidence to the contrary of the statement.

I think Double Indemnity did a wonderful job promoting the idea of a "Femme Fatale" in a time when women were not necessarily seen as powerful characters both on screen and off. Phyllis was a very strong woman who initially rejected Walter's sexual advances in a battle of wits. She later drove Walter crazy enough to devise a criminal murder scheme in order to collect life insurance money, and most importantly, she played the Bonnie to Walter's Clyde in the execution of the plan. She is the epitome of a Femme Fatale, the strong, smart female which was unheard of at the time.

Tom Lulic - Double Indemnity

The movie of the week, Double Indemnity, is a film of lies and deceit that accelerate and spiral into betrayal and death. The metaphoric black and darkness are an example of how this movie is a film noir. This is evident throughout the film and corresponds with the malicious intent each time a character transcends into selfish behavior. This is most obvious in the character Phyllis. She undoubtedly exhibits the qualities of a femme fatale. This is seen throughout the movie however if I had not been aware of her intentions prior to my viewing I certainly would have been fooled as to what she tried to do to Walter. She appears as a very feminine and fragile woman as she enters down the staircase, with a delicate ankle bracelet and white dress and the viewer is not aware of the woman she is underneath. Her idea of survival and how to live life is unknown at first and her disguise makes her to be even more deviant but then we see that she must suck and latch on to oncoming men and their money. What is interesting to see is how she seduces Walter into her transgressive actions. She has no awareness of the consequences to her actions even though they may be detrimental even to her. This is explained well in the reading from Bronfen, "Insofar it was fate they should have met, to play their criminal game to the end ultimately means acknowledging that each is responsible for the fatal consequences of their transgression will have." She appears even to want to live a life of ultimate pain as she chooses to be immoral and deceitful at will. "She chooses destruction at every turn, and in doing so draws attention to the question of inevitability in a tragic sequence." - Bronfen. This quote from the reading shows how she knows what she is doing yet still continues down this path of destruction and as fate would have it she ends in despair all the while she brings everyone around her into sadness and death.

Film Noir: Dominic Nemmers

I would definitely classify film noir as a genre of American film. The cinematography and the mood of film noir and the fact that it occurred during a certain time frame in American history, right after WWII, gives it the embodiment to be a genre. All of the films of film noir really typify much of the resentment of what happened to urban America after WWII. Much of the white soldiers came back from the war looking for something more. They had experienced awful things in combat and were looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. They felt the American dream of owning your own house and having 2.3 kids was the best way to do that. There wasn’t much space in the middle of the usual American city to fit a house and a yard, so the middle, and upper-middle class whites left the city in droves, moving out to suburbia. When they left the city they left much of the blacks and the other minorities behind. While the conditions were better outside of the city, they left much more than that behind. The whites that had left felt themselves superior to the other people who didn’t have the means or the want to leave the city. This made the city seem less desirable than the suburbs, and the inhabitants of those locations were grouped in with the feelings that the whites had for them. The Inner city populous started to be looked upon as less and less favorable people, who were more in cahoots with crimes and other less than desirable qualities. Film noir captures much of the feel of the inner city with its rough dialog and imagery. It also captures much of the femme fetale character; the women who didn’t want to give up the rights that she had gained by being an integral part of the American economy during the war. Much of the femme fetale’s unabashed sexuality, ruthlessness, and ambition come from that fact. Phyllis, in Double Indemnity, really embodies the worries that many men had of the time. The worry that women would become manipulative and evil with the power that the men felt they shouldn’t have. Double Indemnity does a good job of portraying both the film noir genre and much of the feelings of Americans in the tumultuous times after WWII, and thusly, falls into the category of films that I have enjoyed.

Phyllis is a Femme Fatale by Chris Hovel

In the movie Double Indemnity Phyllis displays all of the characteristics of the typical femme fatale. When Walter and Phyllis first meet you could tell that she was using her sexuality to charm and lure Walter into her trap. At first Walter sees what Phyllis is trying to do and wants no part of the plan. However, he could not resist her and becomes involved in the murder plot. I don't believe that Phyllis is a totally positive or negative characterization of women in general. Just like Walter shows both positive and negative traits of men. Phyllis used what skills and tools she had to get what she wanted. Although not all women might like to admit to using their looks for the manipulation of men to get what they want, it actually happens. Not only does Phyllis use this power on Walter she also misleads Nino into unknowingly become the fall-guy for the murder.
Phyllis may not be the main driving force or mastermind of the whole murder plot she played a very pivotal role in its formation and execution. Without Phyllis there would have been no idea for the insurance plot in the first place. Walter did do most of the actual planning of how, where and when the murder would take place, and did most of the dirty work. Phyllis however never had any intention of being with Walter and was using him like a simple pawn in her master plan. In the end I wouldn't say that Phyllis held a position of true power or subservience. Just like I would say that Walter never truly had complete control of the situation either, but the plot to kill Phyllis' husband needed both characters to both be in control and not in control. Walter's job was to figure out how to get the insurance plan signed, kill Phyllis' husband, and get away with it. Walter's weakness was his emotional and romantic attachment to Phyllis and eventually became his down fall. Phyllis' job was to find someone who could finally put her most evil plan into motion. However Phyllis' weakness was that she would never have been able to kill her husband and get the money without Walter. Without Walter killing her husband was just another evil thought that never would have been possible without being able to find a guy to do it for her.

Thomas Campbell's Film Noir Reflections

I believe film noir is a genre. The elements of this Film Noir were used very efficiently throughout the film Double Indemnity. A genre is best explained in the PC magazine encyclopedia as “a category, class, style, type or variety?. I like this definition as film noir uses a variety of styles including moody lighting, shadow effects, changing background music, and darker or lighter clothing in the Film. In the article by Eric Lott he explains “Film noir is a cinematic mode defined by its border crossings. In it people fall from grace into deep shadows? (pp. 548). In the Film this is very evident in the following elements.

My first example is the light to dark clothing Phyllis wore throughout the film. At the start of the film when Phyllis and Neff meet she is wearing an all white dress to emphasize no gloom. The next time the two meet Phyllis is wearing a black dress, to emphasize that she is not so innocent now, we first see this when she tells Neff “Oh I forgot today is the maids day off? when she really knew, and brings up the term Accident Insurance again, we now know she is trying to manipulate Neff. The next time they meet it is a dark rainy gloomy night when Phyllis comes to Neffs apartment, she is now wearing a full black dress, and they first kiss when there is a dark background, we now know there is something bad going to happen. Moody lighting is another example element used throughout Double Indemnity. This was evident with shadows on the walls, and shadowy images of the characters, where dark shadows emphasized a trapped idea and that the characters are doomed for failure. An example of this is when Neff enters his office at the start of the film, there is a dark shadow on the wall, and we can already tell that Neff was doomed for failure. My favorite element of Film Noir is the use of changing speed, and volume of the background music when something bad is about to happen. We are informed as an audience that something terrible is going to happen once the gloomy music begins. At the start it is slow and at a low volume, however as it leads up to the act it gets faster, and louder, we now know something will happen soon. I like this style as it is still commonly used in films today. Other elements of film Noir are not as common as technology advances in cinematography have better ways to send the message to the audience.
Overall I really liked this film as the elements of Film Noir as very efficiently used and easy to follow. This would have to be one of my favorite black and white films

Double Indemnity - Chimezie Ononenyi

Double indemnity is an interesting movie that tells a story of the times. Several film noir was also applied in order to get the point of the movie across. The one particular film noir that stood out was femme fatale. Knowing that it was not accepted to view women’s bare skin in the 40’s, one would agree that femme fatale was a genre of its own; it would stand out as opposed to today’s Hollywood movies that almost contain some aspect of femme fatale in every single one.

It was not hard to tell that Walter would fall for Phyllis and her murder plan after a few seconds of her appearing on screen. The first shot of her did the job. Not only that the camera was shot from below her, looking up at her like it was a sunshine that Walter could not resist looking up to. There is no doubt that she is a very good looking female. Her facial expression and her body language while responding to Walter definitely shows that she had him. Another femme fatale ‘fatal’ hit to Walter was displayed through the angle of the camera shot of her coming down the stairs to sitting with legs crossed. The bare skin and the cigarette even made the hit more powerful. Walter fell for her and was willing to do anything to take her away from her husband. There is no doubt that femme fatale did not play a big role.

Double indemnity is a positive characterization of women during the time the movie was produced. Knowing that it was a time when women had not much power in the society, it is understandable that femme fatale was one strength that they had to rely on in order to get what they want. If it was not for her sexual ways to getting him to agree with her, Walter probably would not agree with her murder plan.

Double Indemnity-Clare Cloyd

In my opinion, film noir is certainly a genre of film. Although many would argue that it is simply a sub-category of larger genre's such as horror or drama, these sub-categories are very capable of creating very good movies. There are 3 main aspects that make film noir a successful category of film. Shadows, lighting and the overall script and plot of the movie. This movie creates scenes where the actors or actresses perform extremely deviant acts. The misty, shadow feel that is cast on these particular scenes adds an effect that lets the viewer know that something big and more than likely brutal is about to happen. Also, the fact that the movie is presented in a flashback manner puts the story together in spontaneous pieces and creates an ultimate sense of horror. While obviously film noir is a subcategory, the fact that so many classic movies of this time (including Double Indemnity) were created, there is no doubt that it has credibility as a genre of its own and should most definitely be considered as a great historical genre.

Martine Schroeder

I enjoyed the film “Double Indemnity.? Although lines or certain conversations in the movie were a bit corny and did use a lot of innuendo I thought they were clever and endearing. And considering the time period that this film was released in, it was an edgy and intense film and it is always fun to look back on what used to be considered ‘pushing the limits’.

I found the female character Phyllis in this movie especially intriguing. She is the quintessential femme fatale. By using her feminine wiles she gets Walter to do exactly what she wants without explicitly telling him her agenda. It was interesting to watch a female character have so much power over a man in a time when women were socially still not fully considered equals. This femme fatale, although interesting, is a negative characterization of women. This type of character is powerful, but it is for the wrong reasons - her beauty, her deceptive nature, and her sexuality. Although I found Phyllis to be the villan in this film I thought she was a captivating character and I enjoyed watching her.

Double Indemnity - Amanda Palazzo

The character of Phyllis in “Double Indemnity? is the epitome of the term “femme fatale.? While not as sexually uninhibited as modern audiences might be used to, she certainly flaunts her womanly assets as a means of enticing Walter to do her bidding. She is very independent, in that she came up with the initial plan for her husbands murder on her own and took the first steps (talking to Walter about accident insurance) in completing her mission. Phyllis is also very ambitious; she is eager to be rid of her husband, and flirts with and flatters Walter to encourage him to go along with her plan.

I feel that, generally, femme fatale characterizations of women are negative in that they portray women as sex objects, gold diggers, manipulative, and self-serving. However, I do think the femme fatale is a strong female character - one that knows what she wants and how to get it - which to me, is a nice change from the typical “damsel in distress? characterization of women. So, I guess, if women are to be portrayed, I’d rather see a female character that can take care of herself (in one way, or another), rather than one that is constantly doted upon and treated like a simpleton.

The role the femme fatale, Phyllis, has in Walter’s downfall is that she used her looks and charm to seduce Walter. Once she had him “under her spell,? she exploited his infatuation and manipulates him into killing her husband, making it look like an accident, and defrauding the insurance company he works for. Eventually, he discovers that she was playing him all along, he kills her, but not before she shoots him. He confesses his crimes to his boss and the film (and Walter’s life, as he knew it) end as he awaits the police’s arrival.

My initial instinct was to say that the femme fatale, Phyllis, had a large part in the outcome of the plot because she had Walter wrapped around her finger. She had seduced and manipulated him into plotting her husband’s death, killing him, and defrauding the insurance company. However, while she had him hooked, he was the one who was running the show, making decisions. When she wanted her husband dead right away, Walter made her wait until he would be on the train. Walter decided when and where they should meet, what the course of action would be. He was the one who was calling all the shots, so she had less power in the actual outcome of the plot. Despite this, I do think the woman is in a position of power. Even though she is not directly in control of her own destiny, she has Walter so captivated that he is committing murder and insurance fraud for her – that sounds like a position of power to me!

Cinematography and Film Noir

One of the main elements heralded in Double Indemnity and the movies of the film noir genre is the use of cinematography and lighting. John Alton was responsible for the cinematography in Double Indemnity as well as many other successful film noir movies. Using light and strategic camera angles, Alton painted a scene in the same manner as an artist would paint a canvas. Symbolism, too, is an important feature of film noir, with the most obvious being the contrast between light and dark. The mood of the scenes in film noir is highly influenced by the light, with dark, intense moments having lower lighting to create the somber atmosphere.

Perhaps the biggest driving factor behind film noir’s success was that the genre pushed the envelope. Film noir was edgy while still complying with strict FCC regulations, and was a stark contrast to wholesome primetime television of the day. With the rise of suburbia following WWII, cities and the suburbs became largely segregated. The location of the dark city was chosen to reflect the depravity and darkness that surrounds them, that may someday consume them. The dark alleyways and eerily quiet streets further accent the symbolism that is characteristic of film noir.

Another classic element of film noir is the femme fatale figure, the anti-heroine that uses seduction to get her way at the expense of her male victims. Phyllis proves to be a textbook example of the femme fatale, manipulating using seduction for her personal gain. As Phyllis’s darker side is revealed, its revealed how she led to Walter’s eventual demise.

Brian Andreen Double Indemnity and Film Noir

It seems to me that film noir is not an actual film type but rather a way of symbolically portraying themes that were occurring during the time period these films were made. These themes were prevalent throughout the culture of this time and occurred multiple times in many movies, resulting in what seems like is a genre of their own, but in really were just a reflection of the culture of the day. This is especially true for the theme of good versus evil which is so obviously and easily represented by the black and white, and with light and shadows. With the world coming over such turmoil from WWII and with the world trying to get back on its feet, the struggle of good versus evil resonated with the people of this time period, and I think because of human nature will continue to resonate.
Another key toping in film noir is the. I do not feel that the vixen in these films makes them film noir. Instead I feel the newly arising sexual culture of the 1940’s and 1950’s was being suppressed by the government and other film regulating agencies. The vixen was an attractive woman and was not placed to cast attractive women with a devious nature, but instead was done in order to allow the film industry to get away with what was in the 40’s and 50’s risqué behavior and thus let film industry adjust to the change in popular culture, accommodating for many of the changes in how women were looked at as well as what they were allowed wear and do.

I conclude that film noir is not a genre, but instead is the expression the popular culture of the day through the restricted controls of the government and other film agencies.

The film Double Indemnity portrays many of these cultural themes. It displays the good versus evil with dark and light. It portrays minorities in menial jobs as the car washer. It also has the vixen pushing risqué behavior, all making it a classic example of film noir.

Lauren Kolsum's take on Film Noir

With the ongoing debate on whether or not Film Noirs are a genre, I would have to disagree that they are. Saying so would be placing them in a category when really it is more of a style. According to, a style is the combination of distinctive features of literary or artistic expression, execution, or performance characterizing a particular person, group, or era. There are so many features that make up all that is Film Noir, including the dramatic music, the femme fatale, the murder, the deceit, the passion, scenes narrated by the character, the shadows, and the rain. All of the features are easy to point out in Double Identity. At the time of its release the film must have had viewers on the edge of their seats, biting their fingernails in apprehention because it is a drama, thrill filled movie. What is seen as a thriller has obviously changed over the years but I would say FIlm Noirs are a mix between the drama and action genres. They can go either way, however, and that is why they are moreso classified as a style of film making, not so much a genre.
Phyllis does a great job protraying the femme fatale in Double Indemnity as well. She is a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. She uses her sex apeal to brainwash men, completely ruining their lives in the process. Throughout the film she manipulates three men, first it was her husband. When that didn't work out for her she used Walter and Neno to rid her path of obstacles standing between her and her money. The fact that she is responsible for a murder here and there does not phase her in the slightest. The only time the stony/seductive look on Phyllis's face would change was when she was putting on an act for Walter, in which case she would emit self pity and fake love. She did go a bit out of character torwards the end when she didn't finish Walter off with one last bullet. Phyllis seemed a little vulnerable at that moment right before Walter killed her with her own gun. I think Phyllis was a character the people of the time needed. Seeing such a powerful, seductive women was out of the norm and most likely a bit controversial. She could have been an influence to young women in the early fourties to take charge and not let men have all the power. Phyllis is, however, a deceitful liar and that doesn't say anything of significance about women in general.

Jordan Swan's response to Double Indemnity

1.)I believe that Film noir is not a genre, which is often characterized as a category of films that have similar attributes that have lasting appeal to the mass audience, genres that have had been historically successful are the western, the romantic comedy and the musical. I believe that film noir is a style that has a short life of interest and has distinct style. This style has many features that make it distinctive to other styles. These films also serve as a dialogue as discussed in class describes but the importance of this dialogue seems over emphasized during the in class discussion. The dialogue is another part of the style that has a specific significance at the time, in the case of film noir the film industry was at a downtime for the first time in its history and the economic , The relevance of the style could be used later in the history of film as a throwback to the emotion of the time. Film noirs dialogue was used in conjuncture of the science fiction style in the eighties in the film Bladerunner, the darkness and fear of the unknown is used to intensify the theme of the story. Because it is a style it can be disassembled and used in pieces while a genre is so self contained that it can not be broken down.
2.) Film noir found its roots in German expressionist films and the majority of films where created by Billy Wilder who was an Austrian born man. In film noir there is a darkness which seems to indicate a sense of fear and danger lurking at the corners of the universe for the characters in these films even in airy rooms of the film there is a darkness that is unsettling, the living room scene where the main characters first meet is a perfect example of this, the room is big but still have a darkness that is accentuated by light streaming in through the venetian blinds giving the room a patchy darkness that washes out a good deal of the rooms features making them more foreboding. The style also uses light to intensify the impact of this darkness the world is a bitter and dangerous place and main characters all seem to have lily white skin which is often a signifier for innocence in films of this period but in film noir it is a deceptive shade that against the darkness surrounding it seems to almost show only an outline of the individuals making them seem less human in a way.
3.) The subservient nature of African American individuals are once again deeply rooted in their portrayal in this film. The representation of the African American seems to be completely content with whatever white person says. The social environment of the time facilitated a lot of accepted racism, however resistance to this was beginning to arise, wide released images like the subservient car polisher instilled that black individuals liked their place in the world thus attempting to pacify and persuade the mass audience.
4.) The character of Phyllis is a quintessential embodiment of the femme fatal because of her willingness to use her sexuality and the promise of love to manipulate a man to act out of character for personal gain. The depiction of woman as femme fatal characters is extremely hurtful for woman especially at this time, woman had a lot of independence from being in the workforce during the war and this seems to tie a link between female independence and irrational thought. This woman wanted out of her marriage which would increase her independence, this desire caused her to use her “special powers? over men to get what she wanted showing a lack in reasonable thought, even if not a lake in ability to concoct a plan to kill a man. This “special power? is rooted in women’s ability to play on the weaknesses of men in direct relation to what she has to offer which is the mindset of every good leader whether it be a political of economic leader, which shows a position of power, through the appropriate assessment of a situation and its possibilities.

Film Noir and Femme Fatale-Jennifer Metzer

For me this movie was interesting to watch and see what kind of role that the leading lady played in the story. I do think that the leading lady, Phyllis, was a femme fatale. I think that she used her sexuality and her personality to get what she wanted even if it hurt people that she may have cared for in the end.
In the beginning of the movie Walter goes to the home of a client. He runs into the client's wife, Phyllis, and you can tell instantly that he is attracted to her. You can also tell that she knows that as well and is willing to use that attraction to the full potential.
There are two things about Phyllis and her role as the femme fatale that really made me think. The first being her image of women that she portrays to the audience. And the second being the role that she plays in Walter's downfall.
I think the Phyllis has a both a positive and negative role for women. I think the way that she portrays the strength and independence a woman can have was really great. But than she used that strength and independence and combined it with her sexuality and seduction to get what she wanted. And that is where those negative qualities come in.
The character Phyllis also played a huge role in the downfall of leading man Walter. I believe that she used her seduction and charm to get him to do her bidding and get rid of her husband. I thought it very interesting that Walter did figure out that Phyllis wanted her husband dead. Walter even gave it to her straight and walked out. But he still went through with the plan because he could not stay away from her.
I was not expecting Walter to shoot and kill Phyllis at the end of the movie. I don't know if he was doing it so that he wouldn't get caught or if it was so that she could not use anyone else like she used him.
I thought the movie was interesting but was not really shocking. I think if i had seen the movie when it first came out it would ahve been shocking but in our time it doesn't seem so shocking now.

Femme Fatale

Monica Weir

While the film Double Indemnity contains almost all elements of film noir, I found the role of Phyllis Dietrichson to be by far the most intriguing. From her seductive charm to her undeniable beauty, she fits the mold for a femme fatale. The first scene of the movie shows our protagonist, Walter Neff, heartbroken due to the work of Phyllis as he confesses “I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?? From this, we learn that the main character is now a broken man, not our typical Post World War II era hero.

With eleven years of sales experience for Pacific All Risk Insurance Company, Walter is obviously intelligent and successful, however, upon meeting Phyllis any and all of his business ethics go out the window. After their first encounter, he’s hooked. Her physical beauty – porcelain skin, vibrant lips, perfectly styled blonde hair, and distracting anklet – matched with her witty conversation skills dominate his thoughts from that moment on. Since the movie is from Walter’s point of view, whether or not Phyllis is in a given scene, she is the focal point. The entire film revolves around the femme fatale - her desires, her worries, her problems, and above all, her control.

Phyllis is initially characterized as an unhappy, lonely housewife. When she cries to Walter about hating her husband because he’s mean and doesn’t love her the audience is led to believe that she is the victim. As the plot unfolds, the true characteristics of Phyllis show through. She uses her positive traits to her advantage to get whatever she desires. By controlling Walter’s heart, she only needs to plant the seed for him to take control of the murder. She wants her husband dead so Walter takes care of all the details in plotting the murder, performing the murder, and covering the tracks. This is ironically typical for the time period since the common view is that women need men to accomplish anything.

In the end of this film “the punishment exceeds the crime? (Scruggs 678), as is characteristic in film noir. Phyllis meets her demise when her once cold heart isn’t able to pull the trigger and kill Walter. Barton Keyes, the claims adjuster, learns that his best friend is the one whom he’s been searching for as the murderer. Most importantly, since meeting Phyllis, Walter has lost everything; he has above all lost himself.

Alexander Culverwell's Blog

To begin with I really enjoyed the film, being the favorite of the three films that we have watched so far in this class.
I am going to talk about the use of film noir and the femme fatale.
The film noir of the film was very good in my opinion. However, I would say that film noir is not a genre. A genre is the theme of the movie such as a sci-fi, horror or comedy. In my opinion, film noir just creates the setting and the mood of the film of there being something mystical or bad going to happen. therefore, I am going to agree with Schrader in that film noir is more of a "visual style" than a genre.
The femme fatale of the film was very good. Phyliss was exactly what femme fatale means to me. She was very seductive and played the innocent wife who was having a hard tie at home with her husband. Phyliss uses her power of seductivity to real in Walter to do her dirty work. Once she had reeled Mr Neff he lost all sight of what he was meant to be doing, which ultimately ruined his life.
Another aspect of the film that I would like to talk about was how the film got through Hays code for production. The reasons for it getting past the rules were that it was adapted from a novel by James Cain and that it does not have any relation to the war. At the beginning of the film they used the date of 1938 so the war had not started by then. They had to have 23 re-writes to get this write. Because of these facts it opened up the doors for other films of that time to follow similar themes.

Double Indemnity response - Meghan Frank

In Double Indemnity Phyllis plays the part of the femme fatale perfectly. Throughout the film she seduces men to manipulate them into doing what she wants. She first "innocently" plants the idea of killing her husband into Walter Neff's mind. She tells Walter that her husband is "mean to her" and that he doesn't love her. We never see any evidence of this "abuse" and are unsure if she is telling the truth. Walter agrees to kill her husband and make sure it looks like an accident for the insurance company. Phyllis pulls Walter into her world by convincing him she is in love, which we learn later is a complete lie.

After the insurance company starts to investigate the death of Phyllis' husband we learn even more about her conniving ways. Her stepdaughter, Lola, reveals that Phyllis killed her mother, seduced her father and manipulated him into marrying her. Phyllis also manipulates Lola's boyfriend into believing that Lola does not love him. She intended to use his jealousy in order to kill Lola. She was going to tell him Lola was with another man and Phyllis knew he would fly into a murderous rage. Throughout the entire film Phyllis lies and manipulates to get men to do what she wants. She never had feelings for anyone and everything she did was for her own selfish gain. She perfectly exemplifies the characteristics of the traditional femme fatale.

Melissa Green's Double Indemnity Reflection

In "Double Indemnity," as well as other film noir movies, the contrast between black and white is used to depict the dichotomy of good and evil often presented within the films. However, this goes beyond mere cinematography and aesthetics as a metaphor for the plot line. Race comes into play as well, as we saw in the film. Though surely the main characters were all white, if one looks closely enough black figures are found in the movie, as servants and menial workers in the city. If one extends the cinematography metaphor further, it is clear that the white characters are in danger of falling into darkness; in danger of falling to the depths and depravity that they would like us to think black Americans were in at the time. Avila discusses this in his article, Neff's crimes are only made possible with the help of black "accomplices" (though they help him without their knowledge). His janitor provides him with an alibi. The location of the movie also serves to create the racial dichotomy. At this point, the underbelly of cities became associated with blacks, and white, merely by being in the vicinity, were at risk of falling into darkness. The white flight from major urban areas that occurred after the end of World War II reflected this idea. Cities then became concentrated with minorities, and the whites who stayed went on to become corrupt, in the discourse of film noir.

Film Noir - Genre or Not? by Chris Hansen

Film noir is a cinematic term that has been used to describe Hollywood crime dramas from the 1940's to the late 1950's. They tend to emphasize moral ambiguity and sexual motivation. Through the black and white visual style and prototypical story lines I do believe that film noir is a genre. According to the American Hertiage New Dictionary of cultural literacy a genre is defined as "The kind or type of a work of art, from the French, meaning "kind" or "genus." Literary genres include the novel and the sonnet. Musical genres include the concerto and the symphony. Film genres include Westerns and horror movies." Since film noir has a black and white visual style, with melancholy, disillusionment, ambiguity, evil, guilt moods it can be categorized as a genre. This type of genre normally has a femme fatale (Phyllis) who has sexual motivation with her husband, step daughters boyfriend as well as an insurance salesman. The femme fatale is normally the means for the leading male going into darkness. Film noir utilizes certain cinematography techniques that help separate it as its own genre as well. Shots are often filmed in a way that gives the viewer a sense of claustrophobia and desperateness, or just a generally uneasy feeling. This is accomplished using the striking contrast of black and white, coupled with the prevalent use of shadows and filming in small spaces. It is for these reasons that I believe film noir qualifies as its own genre.

Jasmine Omorogbe- Double Indemnity Review

First of all, was I the only one who thought the way Walter Neff said "baby" was a little awkward?

Watching this movie was my first exposure to film noir. I had never heard of it and quite frankly, afterwards, I was all shook up. I liked it, but it definitely made me do a lot of thinking. I especially like the shadows and lighting, much darker than movies I would normally watch, but that really adds to the intensity at points in the film. I think film noir should be considered its own genre, because as we went over in class, it has many very distinct elements that are different from other genres (lighting, femme fatale, weak male characters, portray the darker side of life, etc)

It shook me up a little because I am the type of person who is very trusting and also really gets into the plot of movies. I could not believe Phyllis could be so evil. Throughout the movie, I had a little sympathy for her, after all, I saw her as a woman stuck in an unfortunate situation, married to someone who did not treat her right. But all that flew out the window in the last big scene when Walter revealed her plot. She used anyone and everyone to get what she wanted. Phyliss, as the femme fatale in this movie, was definitely not an angelic damsel in distress. The only person she needed saving from was herself. However, she was beautiful and convincing, the actress, Barbara Stanwyck did an awesome job portraying the character.

I found the film to be quite intriguing. It shows what happens when things go wrong, or not exactly as planned. It shows the side people don't want exposed. Furthermore, it was able to creatively tell the story and get around all the restricting guidelines of the Hays Production Codes. I think the quick-witted dialogue and making the viewers think about the references (even if cheesy) is more interesting than coming right out and saying it. I am definitely going to do more research into this genre of film. I can see how it was somewhat revolutionary in its day, but I believe this type of story would still be interesting to today's viewers as well. These films are full of crazy drama and unexpected twists and turns, exactly what many people go to the movies for today.

Chris Dahmen's dark side

The great femme fatale scenarios like spinning a web of lies and trapping men in it and murdering them are practically clichés. But another less common idea about what femme fatales represent which may be an even greater threat to the white male identity is the femme fatales role in the destruction or abandonment of the family. This is represented with its anxieties in the film Double Indemnity by the use of space figuratively and literally as well as materialism, and narcissism.
Phyllis’ materialistic ego is not conductive to family life because she only thinks of herself. When we first see the residence Walter is approaching there is a voiceover describing it as something like a fashionable style that was trendy in the twenties. There is also a view of a valley behind the house with a beautiful view. We get this impression immediately of decadence? Also when we first see Phyllis she is wearing a towel, showing skin and wearing a shining anklet. She comes down and flirts with Walter or vice versa. She sits and her legs are exposed and Walter makes a comment about the perfume she’s wearing. Already Phyllis is depicted as a woman of the body, sensual, materialistic, self conscious, etc. not the strained working class, or bourgeois housewife that embody the American ideal meant to uphold civilization.
Phyllis is narcissistic and shows disdain for family life and wants to use Walter to help her get out of her responsibilities. Phyllis eventually goes to visit Walter and shares her boredom and disinterest with him with her marriage and life. She says to Walter who doesn’t have a family “They’re just strangers beside you. You don’t have to love them or hate them? referring of course to the anonymous relations one has with one’s fellow man in the new urban economy without a sense of community or even family. She is expressing an ideal of comfort in the space with no family or marriage in a society that places the traditional role of parenting and domestic work on the woman in the family. She has no visible relationship with her daughter. In fact, she begins to get suspicious about the relationship between her daughter and Walter, a possible penis envy? Family feud? Narcissistic?
The use of space conveys idea of alienation of Phyllis from her relationship with family and lover. There is a scene in the grocery store with Walter and Phyllis which exemplifies the noir ideology of women, men and family in American life. When they meet and start talking there is a sign in the background that says “baby food? with some baby food nearby. A woman walks by and grabs a container and remarks “I don’t know why they always put what I want on the top shelf.? This statement seems to imply that Americans are dependent on instant gratification and convenience. Also the processed food and canned food signifies mechanical reproduction thus, superficiality, low quality, and anonymity. I am reminded of Andy Warhol’s first famous lithograph of Campbell’s soup cans in the 1950’s. The irony is the two characters here are not interested in baby food or babies at all. They are lovers, together, but they are narcissistic people. The image seems to be a statement about the changing role of the American family in the 50’s. After this shot, they are then separated by a chin-level aisle where they suddenly have an argument about their common purpose together. The use of space here signifies the schism occurring in the narrative ironically by the daughter gossiping? The two cannot maintain a relationship with one another, much less a family.

Film Noir Reflection

I disagree with the idea that film noir is a genre. A genre is a category of artistic composition that is marked by a distinctive style, form, or content. Film noir has all of these things. The style and form in which the movie is done in is dark, with low-key lighting, set in a bleak urban setting, with corrupt and cynical characters. We can look at a movie with the characteristics and go, that is film noir. We can do that as we can with a horror film, or a comedy. I completely think it is a genre.
The few minority characters that were actually in the film were shown as just extras. They each served white America in some sort of working class position. He referred to his cleaning lady as a colored woman, the person who washed his car was black, and the man working on the train taking luggage was black. All of the minority roles were stuck in some working position, for the oppressive white institution. It shows that black people were being oppressed and forced to work in low wage, undesired jobs. American society pushing blacks into a lower class.
I think that Phyllis was a model of perfection for the idea of femme fatale. She was extremely independent, seductive and ambitious. She played Walter from the moment she met him. She manipulated him into thinking that she an unhappily married woman who had no way out of her marriage. She made Walter believe that she really loved him so she could use him in getting the money from her husband’s death. She had the entire planned worked out, from the beginning to the end. I think that Phyllis is both a negative and positive character for women. She did do some bad things but she also showed that women were capable of being intelligent, dark, manipulating as men and could do better. She showed the strength that is capable of women. She was really the one in power. She acted weak which I think gave her the ultimate power over Walter and the situation.

Grant Flatgard

Double Indemnity & Film Noir - David Belair

In Double Indemnity we see what is generally thought of as the birth of the film noir movie genre. Yes, I do believe it is a genre. According to Websters online dictionary, a genre is "a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content". Film noir meets this definition in every way. They have a particular style/form (dark and dreery urban setting, shadowing and music used to convey the moral transgressions of the main characters), and content (white middle class male who commits a morally objectionable act, likely aided in getting to this point by a scheming and conniving femme fetale, who in the end is caught by the morally conscientious do-gooder). I understand that it is a broad grouping of films, as suggested in the reading from James Naremore, but their are wide groupings of ideas and plot themes in all genre's of films, I don't know why this would preclude film noir from being its own genre. When I see a Hitchcock movie, or Double Indemnity, or LA Cofidential, I think film noir. Just as I think comedy when I see a Monte Python movie, or Slap Shot, or Best of Show.

In Double Indemnity we see some typical film noir trademarks. We see a dark and dreery urban setting, with shadows and music highlighting the moral transgressions of Mr. Neff and Phyllis. The murder is a night, they fake accident is at the end of the train in the shadows, Mr, Neff can't hear his footsteps as he is walking down the street (the sound of a dead man). We see the subservient portrayal of minorities, with the only blacks in the film being the attendent in the garage washing cars, the cleaning crew at the office, and baggage handlers on the train. These minorities are basically cleaning up after white America. We see the classic femme fetale, with the lonely and coniving housewife who wants her husband murdered. In classic femme fetale form Phyllis is sexually uninhibited (it is implied that she sleeps with Mr. Neff), and ruthlessly ambitious (she uses her seduction to get Mr. Neff to help her kill her husband), and manipulative (she tries to make her step-daughters boyfriend so jealous that he will kill her).

In the blog assignment their are questions relating to Phyllis' character. Phyllis uses her seduction and conniving ways to try and manipulate the men in the movie. She seduces Mr. Neff to help plot the murder of her husband. She manipulates her step-daughters boyfriend in hopes that he will kill the girl because it is believed she knows too much. She plays the helpless widow in the scene at the insurance office where she acts appalled when told her husband may have killed himself and that the insurance company would fight her on getting the insurance claim. In Double Indemnity, Phyllis definitely has a position of power over the men of the film. I don't however see how her actions reflect on women in general. She is a character is a negative characterization of people in general. Any man or woman could do these things, but I don't see how her actions would be a characterization of all women. I also don't see how her use of both truth and lies says anyhting about women. Again, anybody is able to mix both truth and lies in order to get an outcome to their liking. How would her actions have any reflection on other women? She was a typical femme fetale, she used seduction, guile, conniving and treachery to manipulate those around her. This doesn't have any bearing on anyone else in the movie or in the outside world.

Overall, I again thought the movie was good. It clearly shows the generational differences in our world. As in the other movies we have watched so far there are scenes that we laugh at now, but I imagine that when watched back in the 1940s the scene was not funny at all. In Double Indemnity the scene's we laugh at today were probably scandelous back in 1941. Its interesting to see how something so innocent today, was so ground breaking back in the day.

Tammy Woehler - Double Indemnity

First, I would like to say that I actually enjoyed this film. Usually I'm not entertained by older films. I'm not quite sure what it is about them, but they seem to have no interest to me, except this one.
Debating whether or not film noir is a genre or not, I have to lean towards a stern no and agree with Schrader when he says, "Film noir is not a genre," but it’s more of a “visual style? (Scruggs p. 677). A genre is something that defines what the movie is, such as a comedy, horror, suspense, etc. Film noir just creates the settings or tones in the movie. There were darker scenes, hardly any light shed or only darker colors used when something "bad" was going to happen. For example, when Phillis and Neff killed the husband and left his body on the train tracks. It was night and at a dark location. Granted, the odds of someone making a movie when the characters dump a dead body in the middle of the day isn't so good, but it could happen. Another example is when Mr. Neff goes to Phillis' house at 11pm. All of the lights are turned off in the house. Later, they both end up shot, but Phillis gets the raw end of the deal because she is the one killed. Film noir gives a dark setting in the flim, usually when something bad is being planned, or is about to happen.
As far as whether film noir showed minorities as being confined to meager and misery-laden roles, it definitely did in Double Indemnity. The first character that I really noticed was the guy in the garage of Mr. Neff. He was a black man, cleaning cars of what I assume to be whites. The man was polite to Mr. Neff in the way that a subordinate would to an officer of some sort. Not polite just because, but polite because he pretty much had to. Another scene shows a black man as the guy on the train helping people to their train car with their luggage. And, again, with that politeness because he had to, not just because he was polite, but not to take away from his true intentions of being polite of course.

Film Noir- Jordan Heighway

1. Film noir as a genre is a very touchy subject among movie critiques. As nice as is it to label movies by there respective genres, it's almost impossible to find a genre that's all encompassing or to find movies that are exclusive to a single genre. Personally, I would classify film noir as a genre. There are several movies that could fit in the genre, especially if you consider the classic film noir period with movies such as Double Indemnity, the Maltese Falcon and others. However, other recent movies show characteristics that could be classified under the film noir genre. Film genres will always be argued because, ironically, there may be a black and white movie, but there is only gray when you try to define a movie under a specific genre.
2. The black and/or dark scenes portray the senseless debauchery and moral ambiguity that so many classic flim noir fims so desperately try to depict, especially considering that film noir grew from the moral ambiguity that resulted from the depression and world Wars. This says alot about the post war America, as most people didn't really know what do define their morals as. Going away and killing people in a war is a life changing experience, and it really makes one question their respective morals and beliefs. As soon as the questioning begins, is when the ambiguity is really seen, because moral decisions are not supposed to blurry.
3. I definitely see minority characters in the Film being confined as second tier. It's hard to blame the flim director (Billy Wilder I believe), because minorities were often considered the problem with America. The struggles of minoriities with drugs and poverty among other things lead to a distrust of their moral institutions. The social forces in America at the time were truly sad. It's hard to believe that WASP's did everything in their power to keep first class status. Even movies like this that don't specifically have racist themes, yet you can tell their is a general distrust of minorities by the actions of the characters and how they are presented.
4. Phyllis is definately the epitomy of a femme fatale. She is so seductive in her means and uses this as her power to be destructive to the men around her. It's classic femme fetale combined with classic film noir. It depends on how the person wants to define women, but it's clear that the role of Phylllis is that of a degradation of women. Women are supposed to exhibit there beauty, yet they are "not allowed" by society to control men through seduction and ruthless ambition. The femme fatale plays the traditional role that destroys the men around them. Phyllis ruthless ambition, senseless debauchery and general lies helped lead to Walter's ultimate demise as a character. Phyllis has the capacity for both truth and lies, something that women were known for at the time. Women were thought of as being weaker, so they would have to expose the truth. Phyllis does this at times but she also manipulates men with lies, which is brought on through the femme fatale mystique. Clearly, seductive women have power of men that Double Indemnity has no problem depicting. Phyllis can use her seductive mystique to gain what she wants or needs.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I rate it behind Citizen Kane and in front of Sahara.

Josh Zaborowski

I believe film noir is a genre and a pretty fascinating way of depicting emotion and different situations within a film. I think the way film noir was used really highlighted the particular mood the writer wanted to portray. The way the darkness falls upon the scene during parts of Double Indemnity to portray to the viewer the character's pessimistic mood or moral transgressions is a very effective way to set the tone for those particular scenes. Double Indemnity used film noir very effectively, especially in many scenes with Walter Neff, to really emphasize his dark, devious, underlying racist actions. Like when Walter Neff plotted to kill Dietrich or when he sort of sets up that janitor. Film noir really influenced how I thought about those scenes and other situations, because the darkness and shadows really cast a negative shadow over the scene and I believe it made the scene more powerful and more effective. I believe that film noir used in this film created a heightened amount of anticipation and suspense throughout the film. As the scenes got darker the more I anticipating something big happening. The darkness and shadowing really made the scenes and situations in the film clearer to me, in some odd way. Usually I am not a huge fan of black and white films, but this movie used film noir really well and really helps me appreciate films in this genre a bit more.

Noir in Black and White - Jacob Dreyer

Film noir's use of light and shadow was one of the defining characteristics of the genre. While its style is arresting and original, the use of lighting in these films also operates on a deeper level. Avila states that the use of shadow to darken people's faces is a tool to link whites and blacks. By covering faces in shadow, the white deviant is literally becoming black. "Throughout He Walked by Night, for example, the face of a violent psychopath, never seen in its totality, is marred by dark shadows, reinforcing the black connotations of white criminality." In Double Indemnity, though, this assertion can be refuted. The shadows used to darken Walter Neff's visage are to show his moral degeneration. In the first instance of the movie where shadows encroach significantly on any of the characters, Neff has just turned down Phyllis in their initial conversation about murder. He is still morally strong, so the blinds in the room only throw a brief darkness on his face. Next, when Phyllis is at Neff's apartment, the plan comes up again in the kitchen. Neff's face here is darkened more as he is mixing drinks. Then, on the couch when they agree to do this vile deed, Neff's face is almost totally obscured by shadow. In none of these instances is Neff surrounded by or linked to or discussing black people in any way. He is only with Phyllis, another white. This clear linkage between the use of shadows and light with the moral stance of the character reveals their actual purpose in the film: to show how the character has lost the path of goodness and light and fallen into degeneracy and shadow.

Candice Dehnbostel: Double Indemnity

The social and political rhetoric of life in America during the ‘40s is exemplified in Double Indemnity. Cold War fears begin to grow as World War II ends, and changes can be found in gender roles, the labor market and social norms. Many of these changes can be found in the film, and more widely in film noirs. For this reason, I believe film noir is a genre. Schrader says (as quoted by Scruggs), that film noir is not a genre, but instead a “visual style? (Scruggs p. 677). While I do agree film noir has a very significant visual style, the themes represented through most, if not all, film noirs constitutes the genre. Dark shadows, the dichotomy of good versus evil, the anti-hero, the violence, voice-over narrative and the femme fatale are solid themes that set film noirs a part from other genres.

The social implications of Double Indemnity revolve around crime, the domestic sphere and morals. Film noir could be argued to have exposed the real inner workings of society during the ‘40s. The perfect world of patriotic Americans overshadowed the inequality of minorities and women. It sought to stop violence and crime from becoming “entertainment? or from being documented as a concern for the everyday person. Double Indemnity puts these issues front and center. A black man is portrayed only as a subservient car washer and maintenance man. A Greek-American is shown as being dumb and sneaky. He tries to get away with burning down his own truck for insurance money, but the smart, clever white man, Keyes, knows what the lowly man is up to. These roles reinforce the racism and stereotypes of the time. Violence and crimes are committed not by big, scary underworld criminals, but regular people, upstanding citizens. The film seems to say that everyone is a sinner, and stereotypical “bad people? are not the only ones to do wrong.

The importance of female subservience and domestic responsibility is a huge part of the film also. The obligatory film noir femme fatale brings home life into question. Bronfen describes the femme fatale as a sexually uninhibited, but independent and ambitious character (p. 106). The femme fatale uses her physical appearance, seductive personality and intelligence to get what she wants from an unsuspecting male victim. Double Indemnity’s Phyllis is definitely a femme fatale. She uses Walter to get a dead husband and his money. Phyllis is never interested or in love with Walter, as she leads him to believe. Women of the time were to be lovingly doting wives, who took care of the home and children. They were to obey their husbands and never think of leaving or divorcing him. The femme fatale in some ways helps and hurts the image and expectations of women. The femme fatale shows women are more than mothers and wives, but also portrays them as evil, dangerous and out of control. She is blamed as the cause of men’s problems in life and the world.

Kendra Elm Double Indemnity

Film noir is seen in this movie through the use of lighting and shadows on the characters. In the first scene when Mr. Neff is in the office he is seen in dark light, and speaks in a low tone of voice. Right from the beginning we know he is going to be a dark character who is unlawful. In the first scenes with Phyllis she is sitting in a chair almost as if she is a queen and can do no wrong. We are lead to believe she is an innocent woman and we hold her in high esteem. Then when we find out she is not loyal to her husband she is seen in a little less light. He face isn't as bright in the camera and as we begin to see her 'dark side' the lighting on her gets darker as well. Then in the final scene when she is telling Mr. Neff she never loved him the lighting on her is very dim. Phyllis's character brings up another aspect of the film, the femme fatale. As discussed in the reading this part of film is when a women uses her sex and physical features to seduce men into getting what she wants. In the film Phyllis uses her pretty features to get close the men she needs to use. Mr. Neff was a man she used to get away with a murder, and her husband was a man she used to get money from. Her seduction of Neff caused him to lose sight of 'real life' and it caused him to fall apart after the murder. This film puts women in a position of power and shows how they are able to manipulate men into doing what ever they choose.

Miles Mendenhall and Double Indemnity

Whenever I watch a good ‘film noir’ I find myself making all these crazy resolutions to speak more quickly and bluntly and make sure to hang around severe lighting, and Double Indemnity was no exception. It usually just boils down to me reciting lines in my darkened bathroom, holding a flashlight above me for some dramatic effect, but Double Indemnity I think does something more. I believe it contains one of the better examples of a “femme fatale? character, as Phyllis Dietrichson’s seductive and conniving qualities are the main source of conflict in the film, urging the plot forward. In context with the time period in which Double Indemnity was made, this aspect of the film and ‘film noir’ in general is most interesting.
In "Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight," the author Eric Avila examines the shift ‘film noir’ attempts to mirror in popular culture of the 1940’s woman reinvention of her image. Growing out of the confines of ‘housewife’ and into a more independent and self sufficient entity is suggested in ‘film noir’ and Double Indemnity by the extreme ability of the femme fatale character to manipulate men to better her situation. However, while such a depiction begins to strip the 1940’s woman of her housewife image, it does not shy away from attaching lying and murderous connotations to femininity. ‘Film Noir’ and its classic use of femme fatale characters proposed a new layer of femininity in the 1940’s, and although progression, might not have been entirely positive.

Matt Hobbs - Blog 3

Matt Hobbs Blog Post #3

To say that Film Noir would not be considered a genre is something that I absolutely disagree with. All film genre, however it is defined, contain movies that have certain qualities to it that are similar throughout other films within that genre. Action movies contain a hero who has to rescue and/or save some person or item. There is usually an attractive female character that will become a love interest in some way and these elements are always there without fail in action movies. There is even lighting and set designs that you see reiterated throughout the genre. Looked at in that light it would be impossible to say that Film Noir wouldn’t be a genre. All Noirs have similar elements, low key lighting, kanted cameras, heavy shadows, femme fatales, and a male protagonist who increasingly releases that he exists in a world that he is not part of. All Noir films have those elements. Noir doesn’t sometimes suggest these themes, there are in all films grouped as Noir. To Kill a Mockingbird, Chinatown, even to the film that started the genre, Detour, they all contain those elements.
Double Indemnity to follows the same progressions. The femme fatale, Phyllis, forces the male, in this case an insurance salesmen, off of his normal path of life, and into a world that he increasingly becomes disillusioned with and realizes he can’t cope with. Even beyond that, that this world has no place for him. This is a common theme in all Film Noirs. Noir is the cinema of obsession and where that obsession can lead you, to push the films into a subset of mystery or suspense does a disservice to the films in giving that attributes that are in those films that they don’t contain.

Double Indemnity - Kim Hanlon

I really enjoyed the film 'Double Indemnity'. The director had an excellent sense of lighting and mood setting by using camera angles and shadowing in the film. I believe that noir is a genre. The definition of genre is "a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content and technique. This film displays all of these characteristics and is a masterpiece of a film noir.
In this film, there are many uses of the black and darkness as metaphors for moral transgressions and their fall from grace. In the beginning, Phyllis is at Walter's place and they begin discussing their plot about the murder and the scam. The light becomes very dim and you, the audience, can barely see the characters faces. Slight shadows can be seen, but the scene gives off the mood of evil. Another example is the narrative that Walter gives about the murder and the scam. The lights are again very dim, shadows can be slightly seen behind him and they cover part of his face. The director also uses these techniques when Phyllis and Walter conjure up the plan at Walter's place, Phyllis on the phone with Walter while she is at the store talking about the train ride that night and the car scene at Phyllis's house while Walter is on the floor in the backseat. These are only a couple of scenes where the director uses these techniques to portray film noir.
The only minority group that I noticed in the film was the African American man that was washing Walter's car at his apartment. This shows the underlining belief of racism and prejudice against minorities in American. That is how the country was at that time and the writers and director chose to portray that way of life in their film as well. This image of minorities being subservient in the movie has influence on society and helps reinforce this idea.
Phyllis portrays an excellent femme fatale. She seduces Walter to kill her husband and all the while 'plays' Walter for this other guy, Nino, and gets him to believe that Lola does not love him. She is the criminal mastermind behind the film and she was amazing in doing so.
I think Phyllis was a very negative characterization of women. It is another example of a women playing the seducer and the 'poor' man falling for her stunning looks and conniving ways. I believe that it just is another reason for men to blame women for their short comings. It never seems to be the man's fault for not being able to live up to his own decisions. Women are not always cunning and deceitful, but they seem to be portrayed as having those characteristics quite often.
Phyllis comes out as the powerful looking one in the film at the beginning, but soon becomes the poor, helpless, in love woman that can not resist the powerful man that is stepping up to her and trying to run from the problem that he was very much involved in. Once again, the woman becomes the subservient, in the end, to the man.

Double Indemnity- Ashley Bergman

Film noir was a major genre (though a partially undefinable one) post-WWII. Many believe it is a movement reacting to the amount of discontent in the US due to all the social changes-- southern blacks moving north, suburban areas developing, and women taking over the workplace while their men were overseas. Elisabeth Bronfen discusses how the anti-hero find himself falling prey to the allures of corruption with death as the only escape. Eric Avila sees the development of the femme fatale manifestation of male insecurity about women moving beyond traditional gender roles, depicting women as connivers out to undermine masculinity through misdeeds. In Double Indemnity, Phyllis undermines the masculinity of two men by using one to aid in a murder and by killing the other.

Film Noir is also famous for its usage of black and white and shadows. Double Indemnity shows each step of Neff's fall from grace through Phyllis' attire as she guides him to corruption. In the scene they first meet she is wearing all white as Neff is still relatively pure. The next time they see each other, the time she brings up the accident insurance and plants the idea of murder in Neff's mind, she is wearing a dress that is half-white and half-black, as though to suggest he is heading down the path of corruption. On the night that Neff murders her husband, Phyllis is wearing all black to match the conclusion of his fall from grace.

So as we can see, Phyllis is the quintessential film noir femme fatale-- undermining men left and right (let's not forget poor Nino) and using classic film noir manipulations of black and white while doing so.

Double Indemnity- Jackie Claypool

This week we watched Double Indemnity. I really enjoyed this film because of the whole idea of using the unusual characteristic of film noir throughout the movie. In class and throughout the readings, the idea of how writers and directors used film noir in order to display the sense of pessimism that many Americans were feeling post World War II was a common topic.
As a result of the war, women were becoming a bigger and more important part of society and as The Whiteness of Film Noir reading said, “Female power is the crime that these women represented.? This characteristic was displayed in Double Indemnity when Walter Neff fell victim to Phyllis’s charm. Phyllis was always shown with shadows across her face to imply the darkness/evilness that she contained. Once Walter Neff fell victim to her charm he was from then on also shown with shadows draped across his face as well. As the Whiteness of Film Noir puts it, “[A] film is noir if it puts into play light and dark in order to exhibit a people who become ‘black’ because of their ‘shady’ moral behavior.?
I thought it was really interesting how this film (and other films that used film noir) combined the white criminality and the black identity. In the Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight reading, they talked about how the “morally corrupt white folks? are almost always viewed alongside some sort of black service worker. In Double Indemnity Walter Neff is no exception; he relies on the black janitor in his apartment to seal his alibi. This is just the writer’s way of displaying their racism toward blacks without actually going right out and saying it (which is a technique that was used a lot throughout movies that are noirs).

Amanda Kennedy on Film Noir

The very idea of film noir has been called a genre, a style, a movement, along with many other terms, giving rise to the argument of what exactly it is. Those that call noir a genre approximate it to occur between 1941 and 1958. As a genre, it explores the darker side of human behavior, including violence and sexual desires. It also eliminates the clear cut between what is right and what is wrong. Though it seems to me and also to Hirsch that “noir never died.? Borde and Chaumeton say that the whole basis of noir is to “disorient the spectator? to go against the conventions of regular film. This doesn’t seem to be limited to movies just of the 1940s and 50s. A movie that seems to fit the style and ideals of what has been called noir is the 2005 movie “Sin City.? It has the elements of drastic lighting, gangsters, the feme fetals of the “red light district? of sin city, and characters that do bad things yet for noble reasons. These people are caught up in the violent corruption of the city, so their actions towards survival and justice aren’t what we would conventionally think as right. Yet this movie isn’t thought of as noir.

If you asked someone to tell you about film noir they would only think of the earlier movies. That’s why I would call noir more of a revolution for movies. It was a way to break loose from the strict censorship guide known as the Hays Code, to try and show how the world is. Yet the earlier movies were still highly censored, so they used innuendos and other subtle ways around them. As time progressed and censorship lightened up a little, the movie industry could be more blunt in showing how things really are, and therefore the noir revolution had done it’s job and was over, giving way to the newly liberated Hollywood.


Double Indemnity: Nicole Carroll

As a not very knowledgeable viewer of Film Noir I thought that Double Indemnity was an excellent film. It not only had a plot that many movies frame today, but it had more than shots of just gray to keep your eyes on the screen. It framed many shadows to set the mood of bad happenings (i.e. murders). A great example of framing was when Phyllis' grim smile on her face was the only object highlighted with whites and grays with a black background. This showed that without sounds of the breaking neck that someone would be able to tell something bad was happening. We identified a scene like this in class as having depressive mood lighting, which includes dark backgrounds or shadows. Another example of this is the scene when Phyllis first visits Mr. Neff at his apartment and falls to shambles with emotional distraught about her husband and the attention he doesn't give her.

This comes to my second part of Phyllis' feminine quality she gave the film. She exhibits the qualities of "smart, pragmatic, independent women" (Scruggs, 676). She had the figure, the blond hair, innocent, but yet still seductive, mysterious look to her. Scruggs explains that in Film Noir these mysterious women appear out of nowhere to disrupt middle-class life. This is exactly what happens, she lured in Mr. Neff by appearing out of nowhere on the balcony of her home when he had visited first about the life insurance policy (to kill Mr. Neff). This is where they got involved and he mistakingly chose to deal with a women that has a past and will continue to have one in the life of many men, until she was stopped.

Double Indemnity- Justin Kaplan

I first want to say that I actually really liked this movie. I don't typically like black and white movies but I found the way they "set moods" with the contrast of the black and white to be very clever. I believe that Double Indemnity is in its own category of genres. It portrays Phyllis as a femme fatale. A femme fatale, of course meaning, an irresistibly attractive woman, esp. one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations. Phyllis is a beautiful woman who is married to an older man that has money, but one whom she is not attracted to nor is in love with. Phyllis is very unhappy with her marriage and when Walter stepped through the door, this was like her scapegoat. Phyllis traps Walter into thinking that she loves him when in reality she is just using him for the money and could care less about him. This is the start of where I believe that this film was in its own genre. They also used the contrast lighting to really set the moods. In this film you could tell when something frightening or bad was about to happen because the scene got a lot darker. For instance when Walter walks into Phyllis's house at the end of the movie and Phyllis turns all the lights off and is sitting in her living room in complete darkness. This is comparable with today in how we use scary music to foreshadow dramatic events. Phyllis portrays both negative and positive aspects of the feminine population. She is a beautiful charming woman, but yet is also evil and puts together a scheme to kill her husband so she can claim the insurance money. Her looks were very important to Phyllis because she was in a time period that highly admired your physical appearance. I think that Phyllis is an overall negative characterization of women. Men are attracted to beauty, but are also looking for someone that they can trust and know will not stab them in the back. This film really shows how women can be very sly and you never know when Phyllis is telling the truth or not. Because Phyllis is a femme fatal character, I believe that it really keeps the viewers wondering throughout the entire movie whom she really is. The femme fatale plays a huge role in determining the outcome of the main plot in this movie. She not only stirs up the plot, but she is what everyone is really interested in. I think in the end, Phyllis gets what she had coming for her because of what she does. Phyllis has to be very reliant on her husband because of the post WWII male dominant society, but in the end, she can no longer take being the inferior person which turns out to bite her in the butt.

Courtney Marlow's Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity happens to be the first and only film noir piece that I’ve ever seen. I definitely disagree with the idea that film noir is a genre. However, this type of film does set a certain mood and makes the viewer feel a certain way. And these feelings are typically negative. As I watched Double Indemnity, I experienced unpleasant feelings- the darkness and shadows especially bothered me. I felt anxious as though something bad was always going to happen. Specifically through cinematography, film noir is able to manipulate the audience’s mood using “the power of blackness,? (Scruggs, 1).
In addition to setting the mood of the film, the darkness and shadows used in film noir also represent the moral disposition of the characters in the film. In Double Indemnity, the scenes are much brighter in the beginning when Walter Neff is still portrayed as a noble salesman. However, as soon as Neff meets Phyllis, the film’s cleverly desperate femme fatale, his character becomes a shadowy and deceitful man. It was particularly interesting that the character’s faces were almost black as they discussed ‘knocking off’ Mr. Deitrichson, and in the actual scenes when the murder took place. And more importantly, the scenes got progressively darker as the film went on, symbolizing the deteriorating moral character of Walter Neff and Phyllis Deitrichson. Blackness and shadows are definitely a metaphor for the moral transgressions in film noir, specifically in Double Indemnity.
Phyllis Deitrichson is undeniably the film’s femme fatale. Her character is clever and cunning, as she appears to be naïve and desperate. Phyllis easily manipulates Neff throughout the movie until the very end. It is obvious that Neff was never confident in their plans to kill Mr. Deitrichson, however, he was blinded by his love for Phyllis, which is why he followed through. The role of femme fatale in Double Indemnity did lead to the ultimate downfall of Walter Neff- his devotion to Phyllis is what allowed his character to do a complete 180.
In conclusion, film noir is not a genre, but a powerful style of film that allows viewers to see the devious side of people, and the dark side of life. With its use of darkness and shadows, film noir is capable of setting a mood not characteristic of typical American cinema. I can’t say that I like film noir, however, it did have a definite impact on me as I watched Double Indemnity.

Double Indemnity & Film Noir - Alec Charais

What I noticed most of all while watching Double Indemnity was how weak Walter was. This goes in line with what Eric Avila describes as film noir's parade of "weak men" that underscore the destabilization of the white male identity. This was evident throught the film where Walter, who was a successfull, respected, record setting salesman become seduced by Phllis, them ulitmate femme fatale!

What made Phyllis so powerful was her ability to play to the weaknesses of her male counterparts, making them feel as if they were the ones in control of the situation when in reality she was. By playing the role of the subservient, traditional women, she was able to lead them to believe as if they were in charge. While this plays well on film, what this depicts during the era of the 1950's is a time when women were in more predominent male roles. The aura surrounding women in movies of the noir genre would change as the social movements of the times changed, and therefore did not play as well to the viewer. The liberal movements such as women's liberation would not have been served well by negative portrayals such as those from the film noir era.

"The role of femme fatale modeled a clear contempt for the traditional role of women", as written by Avila. Therefore, the role of men in society would also have to change, and thus characters such as Walter in Double Indemnity became a part of film in this era, compared to the macho roles such as those played by Bogart in Sahara and Wells in Citizen Kane before.

Dillon Aretz -- Noir

As we discussed in lecture, film noir often represents the repressed stories within society. I think that one of the most subtle examples of this from the movie was with Mr Keyes. Keyes talks about reading case claims as if they were actual living beings as if he were a surgeon to examine them. Likewise, he gets excitement from reading statistics about suicide. These fixations reveal a darker dimension to the characters (even the ones on the 'good' side of the law, like Keyes) that was often ignored or suppressed in media at the time. Moreover, because his job is so commonplace, even dull, he gets excited through the drama of these darker subtexts; while his work may just be filing claims at the office, through his imagination it becomes laced with criminal acts that he wouldn't touch in reality. And this is the true nature of noir: the excitement (both of violence and sex) that one would never dare to experience in their life is brought up, realistically justified, and concluded. In this way, one might argue that --like the modern controversy over violent video games-- experiencing these notions and learning their consequences might prevent people from actually attempting to murder their husband; in the end, the unjust characters die, leaving the audience only with a feeling of remorse for the acts they might have done were it not for the moral in the story.

Double Indemnity--Ariel Ward

Genre is defined as "a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Given that, film noir as a genre can certainly be defended. Film noir tends to use a certain visual style, emphasizing the use of light and dark to examine the main characters. The genre (for it is a genre) usually has a leading man (generally a detective, someone attempting to discover information about another character) and a femme fatale as the main characters.

The femme fatale, Phyllis in this case, epitomizes the qualities of a femme fatale. She is sexually uninhibited, seducing her current husband, her insurance salesman, and her stepdaughter's boyfriend in order to get what she wants. The average woman is not a femme fatale nor does she aspire to be one; Phyllis is a negative characterization of women in general. Many men would do a great deal for a pretty woman, but the woman herself tends to be a good person rather than a Phyllis-type individual.

Femme fatales in film noir are always the catalyst for the male lead's descent into darkness. In this respect, the femme fatale is limited to one role and one purpose: illuminating the male lead's life and presence in the film. However, her power over him leads him to change (and thus be interesting to the viewer) so she has considerable power during the movie.

Double Indemnity- Brenna Munoz

Whether film noir should be considered its own genre or not is something that can be debated back and forth without ever reaching an agreement. Regardless of this, the characteristics and qualities of films such as Double Indemnity definitely set them aside from ordinary films such as the everyday drama or chick flick. While the film Double Indemnity had a huge impact on the film industry as a result of its release, it is still not a movie I would personally be interested in watching again. I at times found myself getting bored with the over exaggerated events and cheesy lines. However, when examined more closely, one is able to see why this film had such an impact on the start of a new era for film noir.
Double Indemnity takes a turn away from the norm of the happily ever after film, which at the time was all anybody was use to seeing on screen. Instead, Double Indemnity ends far from happily every after and presents an odd twist of events where the good gets caught up with the evil. The film also breaks away from the norm by showing an example of the glamorous and wealthy being capable of deceitful acts. What is especially intriguing about this is the new portrayal of woman that was not often seen before.
Instead of the sweet, loving housewife, Phyllis is portrayed as an independent, manipulative, and cheating woman that uses her sexuality and feminine power over men to lure them into her conniving deeds in order to get what she wants. She proves to be quite successful in this and manages to ruin the lives of what many would initially classify as good characters. This opens the viewers’ eyes to a whole new aspect of film showing the darker side of reality that involves murders, affairs, stealing, lying, violence, and death.
In addition to introducing a twist on characters and plot, film noir also introduces the use of darker lighting and various music timing that has an impact on the perception of various scenes and characters.
In totality, all qualities such as those shown in Double Indemnity, were uncommon to its time and introduced viewers to a unique, new, dark, and suspenseful mood which marked the start of a new era for film noir.

Yu Katayama

I thought Double Indemnity was a good film even though the film was in black and white - film noir. The plot, i thought, was good and it had a very unique and a clever style to the film. I would categorize (or genre) this film either into mystery or drama, but not film noir. i believe that film noir is more of a technique or a style of the film rather than a genre. i think it is clever to use the effect of darkness and lightness with no color because it does set the mood and creates that visual effect. When the lighting is very dark, (like the scene towards the end where Phyllis and Walter are at the house) it sets that mood where something bad is going to happen whereas when it is lighter, it was more of the opposite.
The film also incorporates the idea of femme fatale - a woman who has a physical attraction and pretends to be innocent on the outside, but evil in the inside. In this film, Phyllis is the one who represents this idea of femme fatale. I think the Phyllis is a negative characterization of women in general because in the film, Phyllis showed that all she cared about was herself and the money and i dont think that kind of attitude can attract any men, but of course not all the women are like that. In conclusion, i did like the film and the use of the film noir and it was nice to see a black-white film to be that interesting.

Film Noir Jeff Tow Arnett

I believe that film noir is a genre, which captures viewers through its twisted characters and surreal mood. Film noir reverses the order in which Americans are accustomed to seeing movies. Film noir has a continuing theme in their productions such as certain darkness, artistic quality through flashbacks, mysterious lighting and shadow effects, and overall plot that is unusual and twisted. In the article by James Naremore, Borde and Chaumeton are intrigued by the way film noir has "revived the theme of violence". One of the major accomplishments of the series, they observe, is to replace the melodramatic combat of arms between hero and villain (the swordplay at the climax of a swashbuckler, the gun duel at the end of a Western, etc.) with a richly elaborated "ceremony of killing." After watching Double Indemnity and learning about what film noir is, I would agree more with what Borde and Chaumeton said about my film noir is intriguing to audiences. A couple of days after watching Double Indemnity I was trying to put my finger on what about this genre of movie did I find so fascinating. After looking back at the readings another quote from Borde and Chaumeton I highlighted, perfectly put into words why film noir was fascinating to me. According to Borde and Chaumeton “True films of the type, not only take place "inside the criminal milieu," but also represent "the point of view of criminals". Such films are "moral" in an approximately surrealist sense: instead of incorruptible legal agents, they give us shady private eyes, crooked policemen, murderous plainclothes detectives, or lying district attorneys (pg. 19)?. Classic film noir first person narratives and flashbacks along with its surrealist qualities like bizarre, erotic and cruelness make it into its own genre.

Chris Lewis Double Indemnity

I would first like to say that I found this movie to have less light play imagery and cinematography that respresent film nior than the reading had suggest. I found the lighting to be obviously dark in the "bad" times, and obviously light in the innocence phases of the character. Phyllis Dietrichson seemed to be the a character with the most imagery surrounding her. In this film she represents the femme fatale, as is usually presented in film noir. Being the femme fatale she is seemingly strong and independent with a skewed sense of morals. She is her own heroine and relies on nobody. But what I find fascinating about Phyllis is that she seems almost like a golem. She has little real emotion except for the the anger she shows towards the man that keeps her. The only way her ideas can come about is if she uses someone else. Phyllis isn't a person by herself, she needed Walter Neff to succeed in her plot. I was Walter's plan that they used, she just followed orders and pined when appropriate. Also, one of the main objects related to Phyllis is her anklet. This anklet is her ball and chain, making her prisoner to her husband or to whatever man finds her alluring. Phyllis is owned by her husband through this chain, and then is owned by Walter as he finds her chain irresistible and wants to own her. Her death in the end seems only proper due to her inability to "become human" from her golem form. The only way to escape her form is to die. I found this an interesting take on the femme fatale as an object and not as a revolutionary person. She can try and revolutionize the world herself, but in the end the femme fatale would always be subject to those that keep her bound.

Elizabeth Bassett's Double Indemnity Blog

Movies of the twenty-first century often portray the lighthearted and idealistic sides of life as chick flicks flood today’s cinemas. This is in stark contrast with the post World War II movies of film noir which reveal the darkest corners of human hearts. Within film noir, the femme fatale holds the role of leading lady as the plot appears to evolve around her. Although the character of femme fatale has been recognized as far back in history as the Greeks, Phyllis Dietrichson in the movie Double Indemnity carries womanly wiles to an entirely different level.
In thinking of the femme fatale, the first thought that jumps to mind is her physical beauty. Upon sight of her, a man may become ensnared by her lips, eyes, and hair. Her charm and allure can light up a room while at the same time offer a mystery never to be solved. Often, she plays the victim of an unescapable situation waiting for a knight in shining armor to ride to her rescue. Looking at each of these qualities, it is clear that Phyllis Dietrichson exhibits the qualities of femme fatale. Married to a wealthy man, she is caught between a comfortable life and the ideal of true love which she does not feel from her husband.
When thinking of the general characterization of women, Phyllis represents both positive and negative aspects of the feminine population. First, she is both beautiful and alluring, positive traits for which almost every woman strives. Possession of these traits grants Phyllis unique power in a society that highly values physical appearance and attraction. The use of these powers determines either positive or negative outcomes. If Phyllis were to use her powers to help society and instill change, it would be considered a positive characterization of women. In Double Indemnity, however, Phyllis utilizes these womanly wiles for her own selfish gain which eventually leads to the downfall of her husband, lover, step-daughter, and ultimately herself.
In thinking specifically of Walter’s downfall, Phyllis’s role and responsibility are clear. Walter is a lonely man searching for an adventure amidst his rather dull life as an insurance salesman. Phyllis preys on his weakness by offering the excitement and beauty he longs for. As Walter wishes to be the hero, Phyllis presents her need to be rescued from a hopeless situation of being caught with a man she doesn’t love and a fortune she will do anything to acquire. From their initial interaction, Walter immediately starts down the slippery slope as his inhibitions diminish with each following reunion the two share. Eventually, she drives him to the point of obsession which leaves him no choice but to follow through with their plot to kill her husband and be together. Had the two never met, Walter would have most likely continued with his life in the world of insurance and lived to a ripe old age.
With this, Phyllis’s capacity for both truth and lies is revealed. As a female, Phyllis is caught between good and bad as she struggles to differentiate between the two. In her mind, there is a little truth in every lie as she may truly love Walter, but views him foremost as scapegoat. With the difficulty of supporting herself as a single female, she is left with no choice but to marry for practical reasons. Many women may have lied in expressing their happiness but realized their true need for love and adventure deep inside of themselves.
Overall, the femme fatale holds great power in manipulating the plot of the story. Her life is a double-edged sword as she seduces both her husband and lovers and knows how to get what she wants. At the same time, the society of the time demands that she rely on the man for survival in post World War II male dominated society. There are few jobs for women after the war and the positions that are available provide inadequate income to support oneself. In this, she has ultimate power, only to find herself powerless in the end.

Double Idemnity reflection

I didn't really like double idemnity very much. It is just so lacking in the strenghs that the other dark films possess. The focus of film noir is usually on the tragically "weak male" and the role of Walter Neff is very badly written into the story, which is killer for a main character(the story is supposed to revolve around him). Even with the dictaphone (Poor plot device) confession I was still wondering why he did it and why I should care. MacMurrary's performance worsened this by making the house innudeno dialouge seem creepy, vauge, and even comically hilarious at times all delivered by a character that I wasn't able to connect with.
With other film noir I found myself able to identify better with the classic miserable detective character that survives off of greasy food, nicotine, and cheap scotch. I guess I empathize much better with the character who is basically good but his weaknesses are how he goes to excess to compensate for the drudgery of living in a desolate, cold cityscape. That, I believe is film noir.

Derek Peltier

In class last week we talked a lot about genre, particularly and the idea of femme fatale. The femme fatale is the idea of a woman who is innocent and beautiful on the outside, but underneath as an evil person. In this case, Double Indemnity portrayed a character named Fillis who was a femme fatale. She was a woman who was married to a very wealthy man and was not happy at all with the relationship that they had. This led her to be an evil deviant who wanted him dead along with some of his money. To help her get the job done she manipulated Walter the insurance man by her beauty and good looks. She led him to believe that she was in love with him and he fell for it hard.
I feel that this movie was the start of a new genre, not only with portraying a beautiful woman as someone evil, but also in the contrast lighting of the filming. The lighting set the tone and mood for the audience which was usually dark and evil. This, to me, is how the new genre got started. The idea of darkness and violence paired with wealth and perceived happiness was unheard of at that time. For writers and film makers to cross that line started something that is still used today in films.
I really enjoyed watching this movie and learned a lot from it. One thing that I found really interesting and ironic was throughout the movie Walter was always lighting his boss’s cigarettes and than at the end of the movie it was Keyes, the boss, lighting Walters cigarette. It seemed as if the whole movie Walter was kind of catering to Keyes and at the end it was Keyes catering to Walter after everything happened.

Double Indemnity-Craig Smith

In the film "Double Indemnity" we are introduced to Phyllis, the beautiful and seductive wife of the rich businessman, Mr. Dietrichson. We first meet her at her home, when insurance salesman Walter Neff visits the Dietrichson household to renew their car insurance policy. Neff is immediately smitten by Phyllis, which she knows will allow her the ability to manipulate him in the near future. Their first conversation is ambiguous, filled with double meaning and innuendos, ending with Phyllis appearing to remain loyal to her husband despite Neff's advances. What follows is a perfect manipulation of Neff. Phyllis takes advantage of his attraction and infatuation with her in order to get him to kill her husband, whom she claims is mean and controlling of her. Their attempt to make the murder look like an accident in order to collect a huge insurance payoff from his policy is almost a success, but proves fatal for them.

Phyllis plays the role of the femme fatale perfectly, in my opinion. She is beautiful and sexy, which allows for her to be dangerously manipulative to even the most strong-willed of men. She definitely portrays women in a negative way: money hungry, scheming, untrustworthy, and ruthless. She is a woman who only thinks of herself, and will get what she wants by any means necessary. We are made aware of two such incidences where she stoops to murder in order to get what she wants. She first murders to get rid of Mr. Dietrichson's first wife to get to his money. When she discovers that his money will never be hers, she murders him as well, but in the end nobody gets what they are looking for.

Film Noir by Allison Veire

In the article by Erica Avila, film noir is defined as “a genre, a mood, a sensibility, and a movement.? When comparing the characteristics of film noir I’m not entirely convinced that it can be considered its own genre. Despite this thinking, film noir in my mind embodies the other three descriptions of a mood, a sensibility, and a movement. Applying this description of film noir to the movie Double Indemnity, we see the mood is present in the distinctive atmosphere in which the movie is shot. The environment is an “erotic portrait of an urban wasteland,? in which the darkness seems to creep into the characters lives throughout the movie, and eventually is shown through their toxic behavior. We also see how the movie portrays sensibility in the way that MacMurray’s character responds to the “femme fatale.? He quickly realizes her intentions in killing her husband, but because of her seductive nature he conforms to her wants. Stanwyck’s character realizes from the start that by using her manipulative personality she can control his better judgment and gain knowledge through his ideas in attempt to kill her husband. The most apparent description of film noir is the portrayal of a movement. Avila says in her article that one of the defining characteristics of film noir is “its use of the modern city as a setting and subject, unlike the gleaming spires of the wizard of Oz, however, the noir city exposed the seedy side of urban life.? That reality of suburbanization of the white population and the blackening of urban areas birthed a new attitude toward film making. This use of darkness and shadows made the characters “more black? in a sense, and this technique seemed to be used primarily when the characters were acting particularly devious. This technique only enforces the thought of the character of African American people; their deceitful tendencies were portrayed as and connected with the color of their skin.
Although it is arguable I don’t believe film noir is its own genre primarily because it seems to be made of other existing genres instead of being its own unique one. For example, it could be categorized as being a mystery or thriller genre. I believe this type of film making is most described by a type of movement. The concept of film noir has many unique characteristics such as the shadowed faces, dark streets, and character psychology, but not necessarily enough to construct its own genre.

Rob Skogen

Good and evil, male and female, white and black, rich and poor, forward and backward, urban and suburban, us and them. The discourse of duality is one that is as old as time, and one theme that is an undercurrent in all of our readings regarding where the true “essence? of film noir might lie.

Dan Flory’s epistemological approach is a great starting point for our exploration. We could focus our energies arguing the definitions, themes or film techniques that could constitute the “genre?, but all of that is ultimately superficial when we consider film noir in the larger context of American culture and politics. The search for knowledge can lead us to find that there is meaning hidden below the surface, which makes it imperative to change the ways in which we look at the world.

In searching for meaning in WWII propaganda films, we were presented a one-sided, idealistic view of the American way of life. In searching for understanding in the noir movement, we are presented with an ambiguous “other side?, or more realistic representation of how things were at the same time. In this dichotomy, Double Indemnity would be the counterpoint to Sahara’s point. The title alone screams to us to search for a hidden meaning within.

Just as Walter Neff’s relationship with Phyllis would never be the same after the murder, regardless of how hard he tried to cover their tracks, the war impacted American culture in a significant way. Millions of soldiers went over seas for years to fulfill their patriotic duty. This left a void in the social spaces that turned race, class and gender lines upside down forever. These soldiers would return to a different country, one that was going to move forward with or without them, no matter how hard they tried to maintain a sense of status-quo. From the often ignored perspectives of race, class and gender, it is this American struggle to adjust to a new reality that the other articles from this week’s readings attempt to address.

Although these concepts have been hidden in the subconscious of our nation’s history, they are the pulse or rhythm of our existence and provide a framework for furthering our discourse on the American experience. Urban and suburban, forward and backward, rich and poor, white and black, male and female.

Femme Fatale as Fatal to Feminism

Phyllis, the femme fatale, and Lola, the naïve stepdaughter, demonstrate interesting conflicts for feminist film observers to resolve. Both are complex characters that make it difficult to conclude the film’s message about women. Fundamentally, however I conclude that the film portrays women as evil or powerless, neither of which promotes a positive view.
Phyllis is portrayed as calculating, cruel and a murderer—hardly positive adjectives. Her evil side is complemented by her beauty, sexual prowess and what Naremore describes as “adept with firearms? (19). While her character does upset traditional stereotypes of ugly equating with evil and beauty equating with good, it places women in an entirely negative category—either they are ugly and evil or beautiful and evil. Her manipulative wiles might speak well toward empowerment and agency, but her character is fundamentally criticized and ultimately killed for using her womanly empowerment in socially unacceptable arenas. We might even be able to shrug her off as “too in love to realize that she was wrong? except that Lola’s description of her repeat murdering tendency indicate that Phyllis is at her core corrupted.
Lola contrasts Phyllis’s evil with moral goodness, but even she does not portray femininity positively. Instead of being evil, Lola is uninformed and naïve. Even when she acknowledges her stepmother’s evil ways, she only cries and doesn’t actively combat them but rather turns to a man for help. Her inability to act even when she notices evil displays her as weak.

Film Noir as a genre? (Jeff Batts)

I really don't feel film noir should be considered a 'genre' of film, and think it should be considered a mixture of genres. I definitely agree with the Naremore article when it says that film noir could be viewed as one of many things: a style, a genre, or a 'phenomenon'. However, if you held a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I would say that film noir is a style of cinema. Watching the movie, I saw many different genres being blended together - mystery, comedy, romance, and drama. It's the way that it's all blended together that makes it film noir. Anthony had the quote in lecture that said that the essence of film noir is the dialogue. All the conversations are quick and tense. There never seems to be a moment in the film where anyone is relaxed. Even when Walter and Phyllis are supposedly in love, you couldn't tell from the way they talked. It's tense, full of ambiguity, and sharp. It's definitely not done like that in films today. There are almost never any quick back and forth barbs being launched at each other for the length of the film. The relationship stays static throughout.

The black and white film really allows for the shadow play used throughout. It helps to provide a starker contrast between light and dark. That's not something we see commonly used in film today, and it's something that I feel is harder to pull off with color film. That's another reason why I don't view film noir as a genre - it is pulled off best in black and white.

So, in summary, until I see a 'film noir' section at Blockbuster, I won't view it as a genre, only a style.

Reflections on Double Indemnity

In last week’s class discussion, Professor Arrigo explained many aspects about the origins of film noir and about the times in which film noir was developed as a form of cinematography. One aspect of film noir, which was of great interest to me, was the use of lighting as a way of influencing the audience’s mood toward a particular character. We discussed the use of darkened shadows as a method of exuding demoralized, villainous, violent and taboo images about upper-class, white-privileged members of society. However, we discussed in particular, the notion of the femme fatale as being a blonde-haired, angelic-faced, seemingly innocent woman, who was truly a malicious sexual deviant with killer instincts. The femme fatale in Double Indemnity was Phyllis; she seemed innocent and well intentioned, but was in fact a disturbed individual with a serious dark side.

In the beginning of the film, when Walter arrived to Phyllis’s home to meet with her husband about discussing car insurance, Phyllis was seen standing at the top of the stairs with nothing but a towel draped around her. She had an aura of light illuminating from her face, as though she was an angel; however, this was before we knew anything about her character. She innocently explained to Walter that she wanted to get “accident insurance? for her husband, without his knowledge, because she was worried about something happening to him at work. Walter saw through her seeming concern for what it truly was – her wanting to kill her husband to gain insurance money. When feelings between Phyllis and Walter were reciprocated, they shared a kiss for the first time in his apartment. There were dark, contrasting shadows that fell over them as they kissed, giving the audience a sense of the taboo, adulterous act they were participating in. Phyllis took advantage of Walter’s love for her and played the victim as she explained that her husband abused her and did not love her. Walter, believing that he would gain money and Phyllis’s love, falls in her trap and decides to help her kill her husband and make it look like an accidental death. The moment that Walter killed Phyllis’s husband, her face was emotionless, with dark shadows cast over her. After the entire charade of faking her husband’s death from a moving train is over, Phyllis shed no tears, showed no emotions, just as though she was a stone-cold killer. In fact, I think I saw a smirk on her face throughout the entire incident.

Phyllis killed Lola’s father in cold blood, just as she had killed her mother, and the use of lighting and shadows throughout her evil acts made this very clear. Walter had unfortunately fallen for her act and believed that she indeed loved him, however in the end, he realized who she truly was and killed her. Phyllis’s damsel in distress act didn’t fool me for one minute; she was cold and calculating from the very beginning!

- Hasti Fashandi

Style or Dialogue_Double Indeminity_Chris Remy

Post war America incorporates a reality of social and political reconcile. Can Hollywood try and show the world how are society can redeem itself? Charles Scruggs believes that can been seen thru what he calls “pragmatic, sexy, smart and independent- this dark lady – imprisoned by Hollywood’s conventions, that in turn reflect society at large.? It’s this vehicle of reconciliation that some believe to be called Film Noir.

Problematic is how film noir remains. Caught in a scattered abyss of critics, this so called genre takes grass roots in narratives that reveal and explore the darker side of human behavior, the social conditions, and the criminal activities. These issues are raised in a notable 1944 film based on a James M. Cain novel “Double Indemnity.? It’s this film that takes the so called femme fatale of film noir to new heights.

According to Eric Lott, “the ruthless women in noir exemplify and perform the dark deeds that signify the underside of the self that upstanding men must refuse in the interest of self preservation.? He goes on to talk of “Double Indemnity? and its femme fatale, when Walter, a character in the movie falls into the prey of a woman. It is here that the reconciliation really began. When women began to realize the power they had or thru the use of dialogue they could persuade a man to even kill for her. It is this exploitation of power that makes film noir an area of great awakening in Hollywood at the time of its arrival. Even today women in charge is still raises heightened awareness.

Melissa Colbert-Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity definitely challenged what was considered to be acceptable for film in its time, and I feel that it and other film noir movies fall in a category all their own. The majority of them shared a similar cold, dangerous locale filled with uncertainty and deceit, a dangerous femme fatale, dramatic flashbacks, and racy dialogue filled with suggestion. Also, according to Eric Avila, writer of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Film Noir, Disneyland, and the Cold War (Sub)Urban Imaginary, film noir exposed, “….a cycle of American filmmaking roughly spanning the ten years following the end of World War II. Defined as a genre, a mood, a sensibility, and a movement…a diverse array of crime dramas ranging from individual case studies of murder and criminal deviance to more general treatments of gangsters and organized crime? (p.6). Double Indemnity, in particular, is the classic film noir starting from the conniving leading lady to the racy love story turned homicide. Phyllis’ (Mrs. Dietrichson) character was considered the classic femme-fatale, using her sexuality to entice Neff (Walter) and driving him to kill her husband. I feel that for her time, Phyllis represented strength for women because she used what little “power? she was allowed to have to help her get the freedom from men that she wanted. Women had very little say in what went on in relationships and even in cases of supposed abuse and unhappiness (like the story Phyllis told Neff about her marriage), they were not allowed to even file for divorce without the consent of the husband. With time has come great advancement, and today women have more power and freedom to live the life they want instead of lying and cheating for it. During this time in history, the suburbs drew out many middle class whites, while leaving lower class and minorities in the dark city which was seen as dangerous and full of crime. As far as the representation of minorities in the movie, they were seen in a subservient role such as a maid. Also, besides the use of Neff’s African American garage attendant as his alibi, they were also portrayed as less intelligent and also untrustworthy. For example, when Mr. Lopez was attempting to collect insurance money from a car that “blew up?, he was called a liar and then while exiting the room he had to be told how to turn a doorknob. In short, I enjoyed the twists and turns of Double Indemnity and feel that it certainly gives us a glimpse into American culture at that time.

Double Indemnity-Sukhpal Dhillon

Film noir of the 1940’s and the 1950’s had a variety of traits that distinguished it from other films. Lighting, cinematography, femme fatale, low key black and white, fatalism/oppressive environment, taboo themes, sexual innuendos and racial tension. Being a person of color I was quite interested when Instructor Arrigo had commented that racial tension was quite prevalent during that time. Throughout the entire movie no minorities seemed to be servers of white society. I didn’t see any minorities at the supermarket that Mr. Neff and Phyllis constantly visited or the insurance firm that Mr. Neff worked at. There were four scenes where minorities were present or mentioned. The first was in the beginning when three African Americans were cleaning the building at night. Another was when Mr. Neff explains to Phyllis that a “colored? woman cleans his apartment. The third incident was when Mr. Neff hands his car over to an African American man to get it cleaned. The last and most obvious was when Mr. Neff was boarding the train. All the attendants and loaders were African Americans. No minorities held high paying jobs and were in more “service? jobs. It was evident that director Billy Wilder purposely put minorities in the background, to emphasize that white culture and society is not deemed as perfect as they come off as. By placing minorities in “meager and misery-laden roles? serving white America portrays the time in a more realistic fashion while making a subtle political statement at the same time. Though racial tension is a trait of film noir, I did not see a hint of it whatsoever within Double Indemnity. All the minorities within the film were either very polite or were ready to be told what to do. Overall though if one were to look at the role of minorities within the film it is quite evident that they lived in what could be deemed an oppressive environment.

February 9, 2008

Katherine Rivard

Many would argue that film noir is not a genre at all, but rather a ubiquitous classification based on its discourse and dialect. I feel that film noir is a genre, which captures people through its twisted characters and surreal mood. Naremore provides several components that would classify film noir as a genre: “They often employed a first person narration and flashbacks,? and are comprised of surrealist qualities such as, “bizarre, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel? (17, 19).
Double Indemnity certainly captures all of these qualities particularly through the film’s femme fatale, Phyllis, in her cruel actions, erotic violence, and seductive discourse, which leads to an overall theme of the film centered on death. This is a continuing theme in other film noir productions: a certain dark, artistic quality through flashbacks, mysterious lighting and shadow effects, and overall plot that, for its time, is unusual and twisted.

Sydney Liles

It is easy to see why Double Indemnity would have been rejected by several studios in this time peroid. It breaks a lot of the censorship laws and goes against any tradtions. The fact that the people who were doing wrong in this film, ended up meeting their death seems to be why this film was finally accpeted. Also the fact that it was so well recieved by the audience at the time, could be the fact the social deviance meet its fate.
As far as applying film noir to this film on aspect is " Immobility, to be sure, grounds the cruel theatre of noir." according to Conley. This in Double Indemnity is shown with Neff telling this enitre story of murder and money while not moving. It is then revealed at the end why he was unable to move and why he was coming clean. Being wounded Walter Neff was forced where he was and when he was trying to make is break to Mexico and could not even make it to the elevator.
Also, looking at Film Noir and its cliches that Conley mentions, this film shows the cliche of penalties for social deviance. The two main characters cheat an instantly fall in love. Then he will do anything for her and helps kill her husband and claim her insurance money. Both of them are shot, by each other, and meet the only fate they can. Had they gotten away with it and lived happily every after, it would have upset the social norms of this time period.

Jess Doll's Reaction to Double Indemnity

After WWII film noir, which can be described as a style, theme, and discourse, hit Hollywood. Unlike other "genres" before it, film noir was known for its dark and immoral themes, describing American for the first time as a dystopia. Although film noir was known for focusing on the darker side of life, not all of what it depicted was dreadful. For example, film noir highlighted woman in a new light after WWII. It recognized the women who moved out of the house and into the workforce during the war. With icons like Rosie the Riveter to look up to, woman went from being traditional housewives to the femme fatale in Hollywood.

Eric Avila, author of "Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight," also recognizes that film noir takes the woman's shift from the home to the workforce as opportunity to reshape their image in the 1940's, describing the femme fatale as the following ". . . [An] alluring yet disturbing portrait of a new breed of public woman---sassy, conniving, and out to undermine masculine authority through her many misdeeds." The movie Double Indemnity, categorized under film noir, depicts a "sassy and conniving" femme fatale as described above. Phyllis Deakerson was her name; she was the movies seductress and was able to string multiple men along during the film, using her looks and sexual energy to get just what she wanted. Although film noir recognizes woman as more than a housewife, femme fatales being murders, liars, cheaters, and lawbreakers are not exactly depicted positively. Thus, in the 1940's, women seem as though they have a long way to go in order to be represented as respectable, genuine, hardworking, citizens.

February 8, 2008

Double Indemnity- Amanda Ruffalo

I really enjoyed Double Indemnity. To be honest I have never heard of "film noir" before, but once I read articles explaining what it meant, I got a better understanding and do believe that "film noir" is a specific genre in itself. I support the thought that Hirsch makes saying, "film noir' is characterized by a fractured narrative, it's characters caught in a downward spiral, its sense of a mysterious past that cannot be explained....." (677). I think that all these aspects, and others, such as the plot, lighting, moods, camera angles, movements, all make up a specific genre of "film noir" that in return make for a fantastic suspense movie. Double Indemnity can be classified in the "film noir" genre for many reasons. To begin, the lighting in the movie was very dark and mysterious, which made for a terrific crime movie. As mentioned in lecture, "film noir" emphasizes the characters light skin against dark shadows which insinuate corruptness, which was very apparent in Double Indemnity after Walter committed the crime. Another aspect of "film noir" is the idea of a female character as a "femme fatale". A femme fatale, as mentioned in lecture, is a woman who is sexually uninhibited, unabashedly independent, and ruthlessly ambitious in using her seductive and intellectual charms to manipulate men for her own ends. This portrays Phyllis exactly. She used her sexuality, beauty, and her charm to seduce and manipulate Walter to do things she wanted. Phyllis definitely had the power in this movie. Whatever Phyllis wanted, she eventually got, no matter what it took. She also plays the card of a helpless woman in need of a strong man to rescue her, which in return leads to the man's downfall, as well as her own. The mood of the movie was very mysterious and suspenseful. You just knew that eventually the criminals would get caught, the only question was when. The crime seemed to work out perfectly at first until piece after piece began to fall apart and the characters would start to panic until eventually they would get caught or give up. Another characteristic of "film noir. Overall, this movie was enjoyable to watch. It kept me interested the whole way through and it made for an ideal "film noir" film.

Double Indemnity- Liz Eisler

According to Dan Flory, “film noir is best understood not as a genre, mood, movement, or visual style, but rather as a discourse.? Through this perspective, film noir describes films as engaging and defying society. Double Indemnity is definitely a classical best-liked film of film noir, including metaphors such as black and darkness, minorities playing meager roles, a victim of fate, and a femme fatale.
Barbara Stanwyck plays a memorable performance as Phyllis Dietrichson, a cold and callous manipulator. Playing the role of an innocent victim, Phyllis was able to ruin the lives of many men and women within society in order to get what she wants. With her sexual prowess, seductiveness, and intellectual charms Phyllis was convinced she would be able to benefit greatly after the death of her husband however her road to success lead to deep devastation (the death of her husband and herself). Throughout the film Phyllis portrays a women with an immense amount of power, convincing Walter that she is nothing more than a mere victim of her husband’s drinking problem and physical abuse. Through Phyllis’ manipulation, Walter not only found himself with his life in ruins, but he ended up dead.
Another concept of film noir which I took a notice to was the use of minorities throughout the movie. I only saw or heard mention of a few, such as the maid of the Dietrichson house, Walter’s reference to his cleaning lady as, “the colored woman comes in,? and Charlie, the black man washing cars in Walter’s garage. While these minority figures all seemed to play meager roles, I found it quite interesting that Walter wanted Charlie to be apart of his alibi. Although the social forces working in American society at the time still largely discriminated against minorities, Walter seemed to give Charlie an important role.

Double Indemnity Mikhail Karpich

In this weeks film "Double Indemnity," which is considered a genre of noir or noir films, shows minorities, mostly blacks, as being confined to performing inadequate, subservient, low-end, and non-prestigious jobs and tasks in serving the white American's. In the article "Popular Culture in the age of White Flight" by E. Avila, the author brings up the fact that World War 2 caused waves of racial violence. In this weeks movie the clash between the races was not explicitly shown but, i believe it implied the superiority of the white race over blacks by representing the blacks in subservient roles. In the noir film the morally wrong whites were represented among the black service workers. This was probably done to bring the corrupt whites down to the level of the blacks worth during that era. In the "Double Indemnity' the blacks were represented in the film performing car cleaning/washing jobs, janitorial services, baggage carrying, and house cleaning services. All their tasks in the movie were performed in service to the white Americans. In the article by E. Avila, the author also mentions Disneyland and Aunt Jemima serving the whites, which is an accurate representation of the subordinate positions of the black people in the society of that time. The roles of blacks and whites in the film represents segregation of social forces in American society. The blacks occupying the low end servicing jobs, involving much physical labor, while the whites held the prestigious "White collar" jobs in the society. In the article "The Whiteness of Film Noir" by E. Lott, reads the following,"The film noir if it is put into play white and dark in order to exhibit a people to become 'black' because of their 'shady' moral behavior." This says a lot about how the blacks were portrayed in society at that time and why they held the low end jobs. After all they were considered immoral and shady.

Femme Fatale in Double Indemnity - Sarah Osborne

Although Double Indemnity is full of interesting things to discuss, I am most intrigued by the amazing character Phyllis Dietrichson. Barbara Stanwyck was perfect for this role as she conveyed the sexy, devious femme fatale character flawlessly. She gave coy looks and innocently asked leading questions to make her schemes happen. It even seemed that instead of listening to what Walter had to say she controlled the conversation by plotting out what she was going to say or do next to help her get ahead.

I thought it was interesting that they had such a strong female character in Double Indemnity given the time period it came out in. As we discussed in class, World War II gave women a new role in the United States as they took over the abandoned jobs left by the soldiers. Then post-WWII the men returned and all of a sudden there was a challenge for dominance coming from women and minorities. In the movie Phyllis’ character exhibits this strength as she manipulates men to get what she wants. Yet, in the end her plot is foiled by Walter, and she pays for it with her life. It’s almost like this movie reflected a message to the women who thought they were now an equal part of society that this was a false sense of strength, and they are not capable of being in power.

Double Indemnity reminded me a lot of the 2002 film, Chicago. Although it’s a musical, it is filmed in a similar matter as Double Indemnity. I’m not sure if it’s considered a “film noir?, but as we discussed this may be more of a style than a genre, in which case I think Chicago would fall in this category. Not only was it filmed very dark, using a lot of shadows and black, but the characters Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart very strongly demonstrate the concept of femme fatale. Both go to jail for killing their husbands basically in vain. They use the media attention to become famous, but eventually experience a downfall as the next woman criminal takes the spotlight and they are forgotten. I just thought it as interesting how this type of film is still popular, as Chicago the movie came out not too long ago.

Film Noir - Eric Nelson

Film noir is less of a genre and more of a dialogue. It defies classification and is more of an idea, or rather many ideas. These ideas include censorship versus the reality of society, racial diversity, film techniques, the use of lighting to foreshadow the type of events to come, and the femme fatale.

The only minority I can recall from the movie was the guy washing the car. This shows that minorities didn’t get star roles and paints a pretty good picture of the type of jobs they held.

Phyllis’s character portrays the femme fatale to perfection. She is cunning and seductive. This lady knows what she wants and how to get it. She is a first-rate liar and an expert in the art of manipulation. She acts subservient, but is really in control at all times. One could argue against this and say that she is in a subservient position because she can’t get anything without the use of men and she has to serve men in order to get what she wants. However, I think as the femme fatale she is really not doing anything she doesn’t want to because if she didn’t want to do something, then she wouldn’t do it. All of these characteristics make her a great femme fatale, but they also leave a negative impression of women. It makes women look like lying, self-serving, deviants.

Jackie Robak

I would have to say that I think that film noir is its own genre. But I would maybe say it’s a sub-genre. I guess I would categorize Double Indemnity as an action/horror, so that would be the genre that I would categorize it in. However, it still was a film noir. Almost every scene in the movie was dark, and had shadows. I can only think of one part that was actually bright and happy. It was when Walter met Phyllis for the first time.
There were only a couple minorities shown in this film, but when they were on camera they were placed a status below all of the other characters. Not much has changed since before the war. One thing I remember that bothered me was they guy that washed cars talked; he talked like he was from the south and had a “hillbilly? type accent. They were in LA or somewhere close, people from California do not talk like that. But again it was just showing the “stereotype? of minorities.
Another character that they did a good job with was the femme fatale. Phyllis did a really good job of playing this role. At the end of the movie we find out that she didn’t even love Walter, she just used him to get rid of her husband and then was going to kill him so she could collect all of the insurance money. Even though she did commit adultery that fact that she loved Walter sort of justified it. But then when she shoots him, she really is portraying the femme fatale archetype.
I think that this movie can be compared to the zoot suit. This movie was different than most movies in that time period. Because of the strict regulations, movies could only be patriotic and show good morals. Probably a little boring and no room for creativity. But the producers fought, as much as they could, to get it passed. While the zoot suits were also different then what most people were wearing. Both the movie and the suits sent a message to “stick it to the man.? The movie was showing not only murder, but adultery. Two things that the American public could never see on the big screen. Even after the war we were still in this mind set that we were a good country that would never commit those acts. And the zoot suits, were unnecessarily long and over done just because they could.
I think that the movie was a foreshadowing of what was to come in the movie business as well as what the media could talk about. It probably also influenced the culture of that time. Some irony that made me laugh was that this movie fought hard to get out, the production code was not having it. Finally when it went through it made millions of dollars! That in itself is sticking it to the man.

On a side note… I’m pretty sure Walter says that he’s single. But he’s wearing a wedding ring in the movie. Did anyone else notice this?

Film Noir

I wonder if this was supposed to take place in that mystical time when America was perfect that I keep hearing about? The good old days when you could buy a beer at a drive through and people smoked everywhere they went. It was mentioned in the class that Noir wasn't a genre but that doesn't seem right. If the genre is the general theme and style of the movie then by all means Noir is a genre. It's a different filming style, the whole movie is a narrated story as told by the main character, and nearly all the lines are metaphors and double entendre thanks in no small part to the regulations placed upon movie studios at the time. So in a way I guess the constricting regulations they made to suppress movies really gave identity to film Noir. I can't really think of any color films that are Noir though, the most recent movie I can't think of that would even be considered Noir is Sin City. Again the movie was filmed in black and white with the shades used to define characters, the story was narrated in the past tense with heavy use of metaphors and entendres, and it showcases the dark underbelly of life both realistic and unrealistic. Because I can set forth criteria like that for the movie doesn't that mean that Noir is a genre?

-Thomas Kuppe

Reflection on Double Indemnity. By Thanh Diep Truong

In the movie, there clearly is a character who qualifies to be a femme fatale. As it is said, "the typical femme fatale is sexually uninhibited, unabashedly independent, and ruthlessly ambitious in using her seductive and intellctual charms to manipulate men for her own ends". Phyllis surely exhibits all of these qualities. She is a seductive woman, who uses her beauty to ensnare Walter intelligently. She has her act together right on the first time they met. She made him drawn to her and couldn't stop thinking of her. She really made him work for her own benefits. Walter gradually loses himself since he's met her. He is not the man he was before. Phyllis, the attractive woman with the charming gold anklet, is always on his mind. He would do anything to be would her. He ends up risking his career, his life, to be her lover and to give her what she wanted. At the end, it is she who wants him to die, and willings to do that herself. It is the femme fatale that cause Walter's downfall. In my opinion, Phyllis is a negative characterization of women that the movie is trying to portray. She's smart, clever, strong, determined, independent, but only a femme fatale, a "bad woman" after all. She's not the "good wife" who's royal to her husband, and caress to the daughter. Through Phyllis, I think the movie tries to claim some statements about women. Women are not always naive, weak , nor trustful. They could be dangerous, strong, and betrayal. They do posses out!

February 7, 2008

Double Indemnity - Colleen May

Femme Fatale
Phyllis Diedrichson of Double Indemnity seems to be the quintessential femme fatale. She embodied sensuality, independence, and cold, calculating manipulation. Upon discovering her true, violent, manipulating history, the audience is relieved of all sympathy for her, and all the evils of the dark plot can rest with her. This dark portrayal of an independent, urban woman as “sassy, conniving, and out to undermine masculine authority? reflects the “animosity toward women who abandoned traditional social roles? Avila, 2004). Walter is able to gain even more sympathy, as his actions are completely manipulated by the evil female. Femme fatales such as Phyllis portrayed women as untrustworthy and manipulative, especially when out of their traditional roles. The portrayal suggests that it is dangerous to put women in positions of power; deadly to allow oneself to be influenced by a woman.

Double Indemnity and Film Noir for Katie Kunik

“I love you, Walter,? Phyllis Deitrichson whispers seductively as she hangs up the phone and ends her conversation with Walter Neff. In today’s society, let alone the 1940’s, it is still uncommon for a woman to be the first to tell a man that she loves him. This is one example of how Phyllis, in Double Indemnity, is a femme fatale in gaining power over the men in her life. She uses her provocative for the time clothing, body positioning, and most importantly her eyes to bring about the qualities of a femme fatale. In one of the first scenes in the movie Walter first meets Phyllis. She is only wearing a towel upon his arrival, and changes into a dress which shows her legs, something very risqué for the time period. It’s the anklet worn on Phyllis’ ankle that draws Walter back to her. This shows how she uses her body to gain control just upon meeting Walter. In this same scene, Phyllis positions herself in a “come and get me? kind of manner, which I think, also draws Walter to her. In many of the scenes she gets very close to him physically to try and show Walter her emotional attachment to him. This makes it very easy for him to bring about their first kiss, which is followed by what the movie alludes to as sex by the cinematography’s work of a flash forward. The most important thing Phyllis uses in being a femme fatale is her eyes. She uses them to show her seductiveness by looking up at Walter with big eyes letting him know that she wants him. She also uses her eyes to show her fearlessness. After Walter and Phyllis commit the murder of Mr. Deitrichson, Walter says about Phyllis that she had “no tears, not even a blink of the eye?. This is showing how she had control over her husband because it does not even faze her that he is dead. Later, in the market when Walter tries to explain to Phyllis that Keyes is on to their murder, Phyllis enters the scene wearing sunglasses. Then, she removes them to show Walter the anger in her eyes as she yells at him and tells him firmly that if she goes down, he is going down with her. Her sternness here shows that she does not like to be passive, and that she will do anything in her power to bring down others if she is going down. I think with the changing roles of women in the time of Double Indemnity as far as them taking over the factory jobs of the WWII soldiers, the femme fatale role of Phyllis could be much more widely accepted by the female audience. Naremore also claims in his article, “American Film Noir: The History of an Idea?, that American film noir could have given rise to later feminism. I agree with this because I think Phyllis’ actions in Double Indemnity could have given support later on to women during the women’s movement of the 1960s.

Christina Johnston

Double Indemnity came about during a period in American history when morale and the economy were relatively low compared to pre-WWII America. The civil rights movement was surging following the continuing inequalities that awaited African American soldiers upon their return home from service. The NAACP and workers unions were formed, causing a tense environment in America in the 1940’s. Similarly, the role of women following the war was dramatically different. As the men were away fighting, the women were out participating in the workforce and establishing independence. This created a new generation of empowered women, which men were often unprepared for upon their return. Film Noir reflected all of these changes with its suggestive material, femme fatale characters, and violence.
Double Indemnity was certainly pushing the envelope regarding content. As a result of production regulations, a witty, indirect, and suggestive dialogue takes place and keeps the viewers constantly figuring out the true meaning of many innuendos. Phyllis is the definition of a femme fatale. Her beauty, cunning whit, manipulative personality, and devious schemes were highly apparent. An excellent example of her manipulation was when she mentioned that her husband struck her, in order to make the insurance agent run to her rescue and do her dirty work. Walter knows full well that Phyllis simply wants her husband’s money, but is willing to look past it because she has convinced him that they are in love mutually, which we later discover to be untrue as she has seduced her step-daughter’s boyfriend all the while.
The sudle aspects of racism in this movie were almost comical in their ridiculousness. For example, when Phyllis called for the maid to bring in a beverage, and then realizes that it’s the maid’s day off, and doesn’t get it herself. Also, almost all of the service workers in this movie were predominantly African American or Hispanic, and various financial remarks are made towards them. For example, when the Hispanic man lit his truck on fire to collect on insurance, and a comment is made to the effect of “who would give a man like this a policy.?

All in all, I thought this movie was an affective characterization of film noir. The constant smoky, shadow-filled, and mysterious setting, the femme fatale (Phyllis), and the restrained violence made it a successful, enjoyable, and equally dark film.

Double Indemnity - Patrick Fryberger

I had wanted to see Double Indemnity for some time now after seeing frequent clips in classes such as the beginning we watched in class, and I was not disappointed. Specifically, I had heard how it had been the cornerstone of Film Noir and it definitely lived up to its title--the film contained all the definitive elements of the genre, from 'prison bar' blinds, to German expressionist lighting, to a hardboiled antihero protagonist and complimentary femme fatale, to voiceover narration, and so on. I had also been impartial to Billy Wilder as a director, but his handling of Cain's novella seemed flawless--a great production through and through. In terms of censorship, the skirting-around-the-subject dialogue wasn't even too cheesy by modern standards, and worked well in what it wished to accomplish. I feel that from the perspective of the Hays Production Code, the most controversial scene would be where Walter shoots Phyllis at close range. The quick and brutal nature of it was definitely unsettling, but that being said, it was also the highlight of the movie. I also felt that the end may have been changed (I haven't read the novel or any of the screenplay drafts), because it seemed that Walter being Walter would've let Zachetti walk into the trap and then try to get away (which he fruitlessly tries at the very end). Even though he somewhat tries to redeem himself through the tell-all story and with helping Zachetti, in the end Walter is still a scumbag, and the exact character the Production wouldn't have wanted marketed to a mass audience. Phyllis is obviously the same way, and characters like Mr. Dietrichson and Zachetti have their flaws as well--all potentially negative representations of common Americans. With this in mind, it just goes to show how Film Noir really did go against the grain of the time even though it may be hard to comprehend from a modern perspective. And what's more, the down and dirty pulp nature of Film Noir is exactly what appealed to the public eye, whether for the shock entertainment of it all, or for a more real, down-to-earth approach to cinema. Double Indemnity fits this description.

February 6, 2008

Double Indemnity/ Kyle Cross

There was something about this film that made me uncomfortable the whole time I was watching it, but I couldn't put a finger on it, until I looked back at the reading by Tom Conley. Conley mentioned the immobility present in Film Noir and I realized why I was so uncomfortable because the characters were trapped. When Neff wasn't caught in Phyllis' trap, they both were trapped in their own plot to murder Phyllis' husband, a plot entrenched with lies, betrayal and multiple murders. It seemed that the two of them were trapped in this "darker side of human behavior" that is represented in Film noir and couldn't break free from it the entire film. They never deviated from it, not even till the end. I saw minority roles throughout the film starting with Phyllis' maid, the baggage handler on the train and ending with the car washer at Neff's apartment. Eric Avila's piece connected the division in the film to the division in society after WW2. Avila writes, "The postwar suburban bloom created a space, literally and figuratively. A space to return to normalcy...restore traditional divisions between sexes and races." I felt that space in the film and I think it clearly reflected the segregation in society at the time. I thought Phyllis was a negative characterization of women in general, but also empowering in a weird way. She didn't exhibit the qualities of a femme fatale until I realized that she may have had something to do with her husband's wife's death. I just thought that she was an abused and ignored wife that wanted revenge, until I learned about all of her troubling past and present agendas. She was capable of a lot and wasn't satisfied with being a housewife and did something about it, so I think that empowered her because many other woman did nothing about their role of returning to domestic duties after the war. The way she went about it was why I thought she represented women in a negative characterization.