Double Indemnity (TVM) (1973)    0 Stars


Double Indemnity (TVM) (1973)
Double Indemnity (TVM) (1973)


Director: Jack Smight

Cast: Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Webber

Synopsis: A scheming wife lures an insurance investigator into helping murder her husband and then declare it an accident.







Who could resist checking this one out? a cheap, brief TV movie update of an acknowledged Noir classic? What were they thinking? Well, actually, I sort of admire their ambition – even if the makers’ skills (or budget) preclude the TV version of Double Indemnity from ever getting anywhere close to the quality of the original.

Richard Crenna (Made in Paris) takes on the Fred MacMurray role, and he’s not bad. He brought a little class to most of his projects, and interestingly enough, appeared in Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat, a 1981 neo-Noir that was heavily influenced by the original Double Indemnity. Did Kasdan saw this version before casting his movie? Almost certainly, I imagine. Anyway, Crenna’s good, and Lee J. Cobb (On the Waterfront, 12 Angry Men), while not a patch on Edward G., delivers a believable performance as Crenna’s boss.

What’s missing is any kind of chemistry between Crenna’s insurance investigator and Samantha Eggar’s dissatisfied wife of one of his clients. She’s pretty enough, but she doesn’t deliver enough to have us believing that Crenna would risk his comfortable life for her. The way Crenna plays him, Neff would see through her in an instant. There’s no real atmosphere, either – despite the framing device, there’s none of the foreshadowing of doom that hangs over every scene of the original.

Despite this, the TV version of Double Indemnity isn’t as bad as you’d expect, suffering more from the reputation of the original rather than direct comparison. Of course, if you’ve seen the original you won’t be able to watch it without comparing every scene – something that’s not helped by the fact that this is almost a scene-for-scene remake (despite the brief running time).

(Reviewed 27th February 2012)

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