Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
ON SITE: $25 for members, $35 for non-members
REMOTE CLASSROOM: $15 for members, $20 for non-members
Instructor: Lisa DeNight, Discussion Moderator, BMFI
During and after World War II, a literal and figurative darkness crept into Hollywood by way of directors, screenwriters, and cinematographers channeling American disillusionment, fear, and anxiety into a distinct cycle of crime pictures that would come to be known as film noir. Many filmmakers who contributed to this movement were European expats, and among them was the legendary Billy Wilder, who left the Continent for Hollywood following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
One of the most influential and enduring works of Wilder’s celebrated filmography as a co-writer/director is Double Indemnity (1944), adapted from a novel by James M. Cain (Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice). The story of an insurance agent seduced into a murder plot first made the Hollywood rounds in the mid-1930s, but its “general low tone and sordid flavor” rendered it unfilmable, according to the industry’s top censor. When it finally got to Wilder, he worked with hardboiled author Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) to produce a screenplay that—with some key changes—a studio could actually make.
In so doing, Wilder created a seminal noir masterwork. Double Indemnity was not the first noir, but it is perhaps the most noir, codifying the style’s recurring visual and thematic traits, as well as its stock characters. Fred MacMurray, playing the corruptible everyman Walter Neff, and Barbara Stanwyck, as the femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson, are the ne plus ultras of their respective types. Join us to explore the indelible noir attributes of this iconic film.
Just want to see the movie? Additional screening dates and showtimes will be announced on Tuesday, August 3.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those who attend the seminar on site at BMFI receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink.
Please note: There are two ways to attend in this seminar:
Please email BMFI education coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.