Analysis Assignment #1 – Scene from Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity is a film that brings its own irony and drama while at the same time attempts to show message about society and the world at large. One very touching, yet concerning scene in the film is where Walter Neff and Lola Dietrichson meet one night to try and relax a little in light of the horrible events that have occurred. Mostly this scene appears to have been done in straight-angle with some very dramatic close-ups as well almost as if with the intent to reveal the depth of tension and revelation in a very honest and more direct to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The 1st shot of the scene shows a long take of them walking in a forest-like spot nearby what appears to be a play or musical taking place, then they sit on the ground. Walter is in the foreground smoking a cigarette, while Lola is in the background with her head turn looking at the play. Her distance from the camera and the way her head’s turned lets you know without even looking at or in her face that there’s something obviously bothering her and that she feels powerless to do anything about it. Then you for sure when Walter asks her “Why are you crying?” Then Lola not only reveals that she fears her boyfriend Nino Zachetti, who she has seen paying visits to Phyllis “night after night” was involved in the plot with to kill her father, then the scene cuts to Walter who shows concern and curiosity in his eyes. Then Lola also reveals she believes Phyllis is not only responsible for playing a part in her father’s murder, but also her mother. She mentions the day she died, Phyllis gave a menacing look and gave the same look the night her father was killed. During their conversation, a series of cuts and long takes occur to show the dramatic intensity of the scene along with the ominous tone of music in the background as well as the tone of the characters expressions and dialogue.

The close-up of Walter in this scene shows worry and concern, plus curiosity as to Nino’s purpose on his face and you can tell by looking at his reaction that the wheels in his head were turning. This is probably used to help us understand and even sympathize with not just Lola Dietrichson, but also with Walter Neff, not so much to condone the murder he committed, but  to show us he also has his caring side, especially to Lola, who also suspects and is concerned about what Phyllis is capable of. Then the next morning, he checks his colleague Barton Keye’s Dictaphone reports and finds his fears have been justified and that Nino and Phyllis are involved with each other. And again, a close-up of Walter reveals his true feelings, now of anger and betrayal by the woman he loved and thought really loved him. Then he calls Phyllis and says he’ll meet her at 11 p.m. After he gets off the phone with her, there’s a feeling of uncertainty and mystery as to what he’s going to do, that and he no idea of what awaits him as to what Phyllis’ intentions are, but what we do know is somehow some way, he’ll confront her and also try to make sure she and Nino take the fall for the crime.

This scene probably one of the most powerful scenes in the film because it helps the characters and the audience better understand the big picture of Phyllis’ actions and purpose. She’s basically a prostitute out to cheat and steal from any man she comes across, especially if they’re rich and succeeds at deceiving nearly everyone in her path, except Lola and Barton.

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6 thoughts on “Analysis Assignment #1 – Scene from Double Indemnity

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  5. Your observations here are keen, but you are jumping ahead to the analysis before you set down a detailed, shot-by-shot analysis. Please make sure you go through the instructions carefully– there is time to revise this still, and I really do need to see a list and description of every shot (you can pick a portion of this scene to make it more manageable). Looking forward to seeing more!

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