Tag Archives: Double Indemnity

SIX OF THE BEST #31 – FILMS INVOLVING ADMINISTRATION!

SIX OF THE BEST #31 – FILMS INVOLVING ADMINISTRATION!

Having worked in administrative roles most of my working life I thought it would be fun to consider six films which incorporate paperwork, or at least some element of office life, within their cinematic fabric. I’ve worked in industrial, corporate, retail, financial, legal, media and customer service environments. Moreover, I have also had some brilliant, some boring and some frankly awful jobs. Thus, it always pleases me when I can identify with characters and narrative elements that utilise office drudge and tasks. Thus, here are six of the best that do. If you can think of anymore please let me know.


That Moment In Brazil when Sam Lowry's air conditioning fails | by Louie  Hsiao | Medium

ARGO (2012)

The Oscar winning thriller is very exciting, even though much of the action takes place in U.S. Embassy, C.I.A. and Hollywood backlot offices. A great script and cast are wonderfully helmed by Ben Affleck, plus there are some expertly suspenseful scenes throughout. My favourite is the sequence where the Iranians piece together shredded paper to find out the identities of the Americans they are chasing. It’s painstaking work, but somehow extremely suspenseful too.


Argo – Ben Affleck's gripping CIA thriller sends reality into a tailspin |  Ben Affleck | The Guardian

DARK WATERS (2019)

Todd Haynes superior legal thriller unveils a tragic series of events relating to environmental, chemical, legal and human corruption by the DuPont corporation. Mark Ruffalo’s dogged lawyer never gives up in the face of corporate greed and community murder and a load of paperwork. When he gets delivered boxes and boxes of files from DuPont’s army of lawyers I really wanted to dive into the screen and help him!


Dark Waters review: Mark Ruffalo takes up weary arms against a malicious  multinational | Sight & Sound | BFI

DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)

Double Indemnity was adapted from James M. Cain’s devious noir novella and found Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck plotting to kill her husband for the insurance money. As MacMurray’s desperate voiceover reveals the events of the story, we are pulled into a web of deceit and murder which shows human nature as greedy, vicious and unforgiving. Billy Wilder’s films often featured weak men in difficult situations and here I just love that the insurance industry is featured rather than the standard cops and private detectives in other film noirs.


FILM NOIR OF THE WEEK: Double Indemnity (1944) | Dostoyevsky Reimagined:  Blogs

OFFICE SPACE (1999)

Mike Judge’s under-rated black comedy is arguably the best film ever about working in an office. It features so many great scenes and loopy characters as Ron Livingston’s lowly software administrator just decides to stop trying! Rather than get sacked the management team see him as a free-thinker and he actually gets promoted. Perfectly catching the repetitious nature, absurdity and tedium of corporate life, one of the many hilarious moments involves the violent destruction of a printer by fed up workers.


17 Things to Look for the Next Time You Watch Office Space | Mental Floss

THE REPORT (2019)

Based on true events, the film forensically documents a period of U.S. history where Adam Driver portrays, Daniel J. Jones, a U.S. Senate staffer investigating the 2005 destruction of interrogation videotapes. He begins the work in 2009 and is faced with six million pages of CIA materials to work through. It soon, unsurprisingly, becomes an obsessive and ordered job for Jones and it takes him years to ultimately finish the report. Often C.I.A thrillers have car chases and shootouts, but this is an extensively researched drama set in enclosed offices, in meetings, in Senate hearings, at desks and computer screens; all with flashes of interspersing torture.



THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

Patience is a virtue they say, and Andy Dufresne shows it in spades; tiny little digging spades he uses to chip away at a tunnel over many, many years. This prison film benefits from a gem of a Stephen King story, plus Frank Darabont’s brilliant writing. Everyman Dufresne could be battered into submission by the rape, beatings, and incarceration he endures but his stubborn survival instinct pays off in a wonderful pay-off at the story’s end. I also loved how he used his skills as an accountant to get the guards on his side, utilising his bookkeeping abilities as part of his escape plan.


The Shawshank Redemption - Film | Park Circus

SIX OF THE BEST #15 – BILLY WILDER

SIX OF THE BEST #15 – BILLY WILDER

Samuel “Billy” Wilder is arguably one of the finest screenwriters that ever put fingers to typewriter; and certainly one of the best writer-directors of all time. Indeed, until Woody Allen surpassed him he was nominated for best screenwriter at the Academy Awards TWELVE times! Overall, he would win six Oscars plus a special Academy Award.

Wilder was born in 1906 in Austria Hungary; in an area which is now part of Poland. Having moved to Berlin in his twenties, Wilder served an apprenticeship as a writer on a newspaper. However, he soon got work as a screenwriter in the German film industry and a star was born. The rise of the Nazis caused Wilder to move again, to Paris and then latterly to Hollywood. There he would have an incredible career in movie-making spanning over thirty years, writing, producing and directing over thirty-odd films, many of the classics of cinema.

So, in keeping with the remit of this occasional series I have decided to pick out six of Wilder’s best films and explain why they are just brilliant. To be honest I could probably pick out twenty of the best where Wilder is concerned, but will stick to six!

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**


Double Indemnity (1944)

For any screenwriters out there Wilder’s work is often a technical and intricate joy. Character, dialogue, plot and twists are all combined to create an incredibly deep texture within the work. Double Indemnity was adapted from James M. Cain’s devious noir novella and found Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck plotting to kill her husband for the insurance money. Wilder worked on the screenplay with Raymond Chandler and while the two didn’t hit it off their collaboration produced one of the classic film noirs of the period. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and confirmed the star status of both Stanwyck and MacMurray. As MacMurray’s desperate voiceover reveals the events of the story we are pulled into a web on deceit and murder which show human nature as greedy, vicious and unforgiving.


The Lost Weekend (1945)

It is worth noting that Wilder’s success would perhaps not been as successful if not for his partnership with producer and writer Charles Brackett. They worked on many successful films together and The Lost Weekend was one such triumph. Based on Charles Jackson’ novel about an alcoholic writer teetering on the edge of self-destruction, Ray Milland’s character found himself awash in an existential and drunken haze. Wilder’s work as a screenwriter is again brilliant as he takes a very unsympathetic character and makes him both human and empathetic. This is down to both Milland’s fine performance and Wilder’s key direction; both would win Academy Awards. Overall, it’s a tragic struggle which reflects those individuals who constantly battle against the booze. Many see alcohol as a friend but it can quickly turn into an enemy without warning or notice.


Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Working from an original story Wilder and Brackett turned the eyes and ears inward toward the Hollywood machine; asking the question: what happens to the Hollywood legends after their star has crashed and burned. The answer was the character of Norma Desmond, a silent movie star craving a comeback and refusing to accept her career is over. Gloria Swanson is absolutely terrifying as the ageing screen goddess, as she spits out famous lines such as: “I am big; it’s the pictures that got small!” Meanwhile, William Holden is also superb as the cynical writer beaten down by his own world weariness within the Hollywood system. The classic opening scene of his limp dead body lying face down in a swimming pool as he recounts how he came to be there is one of the most iconic images in all cinema.


Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

I probably could have gone for a number of Wilder’s movies including: Ace in the Hole (1951), Stalag 17 (1953), Sabrina (1954) or The Fortune Cookie (1966), which was the first film to place Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon on screen together; however, I’m a sucker for a good Agatha Christie story. Witness for the Prosecution features two stunning acting turns from Marlene Dietrich as the wife of the murder suspect, and Charles Laughton as the barrister charged with defending him. In his final film Tyrone Power plays the accused Leonard Vole, who is on trial for murdering a wealthy widow. Laughton’s eccentric barrister defends him but he has help on the way from an unexpected source. Wilder directs his cast with wit and suspense, making the most of Agatha Christie’s dynamite plot which has two grand and unexpected twists at the end.


Some Like It Hot (1959)

Arguably the best film comedy ever and also one of the best films of all time, Some Like It Hot, on paper, shouldn’t really work. Two male musicians dress up as women to go on the run from the mob is as silly an idea as you could get. However, with Billy Wilder and I.A.L Diamond’s intricate script, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon so good in the leads, plus an effervescent Marilyn Monroe at the height of her star power you get all-round cinematic gold. Combining gangster, comedy, musical and romance elements the film fizzes with style, humour and song, as the complex plot involves hilarious identity and gender switches. At one point Curtis’ Joe has split himself into three parts. Ultimately, Wilder and his collaborators have created almost a perfect movie featuring one of the finest end lines in cinema history.


The Apartment (1960)

While Some Like It Hot veered toward comedic farce, The Apartment is a somewhat more mature and darker-themed comedy. Once again starring Jack Lemmon, he portrays C.C. Baxter, a downtrodden office worker whose apartment is used by executives for their extra-marital dalliances. While these liaisons see him gain promotion he begins to doubt his actions and his conscience gets the better of him. The guilt is especially heightened when he begins to fall for Shirley MacLaine’s elevator operator, Fran. Fighting back against the corporate bosses does him no favours but it does bring him closer to Fran. Both a satire against odious men and their sexist practices, plus a touching romance, Jack Lemmon illuminates the screen all hang-dog expressions and nagging angst. MacLaine too shines in a sympathetic role as a woman treated like a perpetual door-mat. The film won five Oscars and once again proved the genius of Billy Wilder.