Thursday, September 07, 2006

Double Indemnity - Doubly Disappointed

The release a couple weeks ago of the Universal “Legacy” Series double DVD of 1944’s Double Indemnity had me very excited when I saw it at Streetlight Music and DVD in Noe Valley last week. I had no problem plopping down $25 for this reissue since it was previously available for at least that much for a stripped down single disc release. And that one has become increasingly scarce or obscenely overpriced.

At last this great film will get the lush treatment it is due I thought as I opened the classily assembled box. Well, though the transfer of the film is great, and the feature itself has only grown stronger with time, I was greatly disappointed by the packet itself. This is no Criterion edition of a landmark film. There is a forgettable intro from Turner Classic Movies by Robert Osborne that, regrettably is imbedded into the feature itself instead of as a throwaway extra. There are two ho-hum commentaries by Richard Schickel and Lemm Dobbs and Nick Redman. A lame little featurette called Shadows of Suspense might hold the attention of someone who just arrived from Cameroon and knew nothing of the genre. But for anyone with even a slight knowledge of the era, it is insulting and boring.

One worthy insight in the featurette is that Billy Wilder commented after seeing a 1973 TV remake of the film “They got it wrong.” That’s really about all you need to know about that version, but by gum, the less 90-minute flick take up the entire space on disc two. I made it through the first five minutes but then fast forwarded and will likely never view it again. Why not a documentary or two on the careers of Stanwyck and MacMurray or Robinson? Or a piece on southern California in the 1940s. Or a couple chronicling the lives and careers of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler.

I don’t regret buying the discs, but I still feel the definitive version has yet to be made. The elements for one are all out there, and I have a couple pieces on the career of Stanwyck and film noir that I might eventually compile into my own boxed set. DIY is increasingly becoming my mode for home entertainment, and there is satisfaction in pulling out a DVD and being able to say “I made that!”



At 10:00 AM, Blogger WAT said...

Shit, I forget. Have I seen this movie yet? I can't remember. I have to check my Netflix list. But I will get it if I haven't.

I love me some good ole' black and white movies.


Post a Comment

<< Home