A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The antihero is a once-honest man turned murderer, whose whole confession frames the movie. Even though he faces the consequences for his actions, he seems almost fatalistic, not apologetic, about his actions. But in the end he does prevent another murder. Phyllis is quite the "wicked stepmother" type, in addition to her other faults.
Violence & Scariness
One man murders another with his bare hands, offscreen. Two people are shot at close range.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Phyllis seen briefly, clad demurely in a towel. Otherwise her seductive affair with Walter Neff is all talk, mood, and innuendo.
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Products & Purchases
The tie-in novel by James M. Cain.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Quite a bit of smoking, cigarettes, and cigars.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a grim, downbeat "film noir" narrative. Evil doesn't triumph, but the main character makes bad choices and is pretty much doomed from the inception. He falls for another man's wife and tries to help her kill her husband (the woman also turns out to embody the worst sort of wicked-stepmother image, late in the story). There is nothing explicitly sensual in this narrative, even as much later "steamy erotic thrillers" copied the vibe and used it as an excuse for graphic sex and nudity. This one would merit just a PG today. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
DOUBLE INDEMNITY has all the hallmarks of film noir – it's a moody, pessimistic crime story with strong overtones of spiritual bankruptcy and moral cynicism. The best of film noir sizzles with crackling, sardonic dialogue, veiled lust, terrific black-and-white photography, and overtones of impending doom. This is one of the best, all right, even if, like Casablanca, it's practically all talk.
Even today, these characters' jaded attitudes toward taking a life is bracingly sinister; as if right and wrong don't matter in this milieu, only getting caught or getting away with it. Add to this lack of remorse themes of obsession and betrayal and the power of great film noir is revealed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.