Double Indemnity and Film Noir for Katie Kunik
â€śI love you, Walter,â€? Phyllis Deitrichson whispers seductively as she hangs up the phone and ends her conversation with Walter Neff. In todayâ€™s society, let alone the 1940â€™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 risquĂ© for the time period. Itâ€™s the anklet worn on Phyllisâ€™ 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 â€ścome and get meâ€? 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 cinematographyâ€™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 â€śno tears, not even a blink of the eyeâ€?. 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, â€śAmerican Film Noir: The History of an Ideaâ€?, that American film noir could have given rise to later feminism. I agree with this because I think Phyllisâ€™ actions in Double Indemnity could have given support later on to women during the womenâ€™s movement of the 1960s.