Tuesday, June 09, 2009
To return to more important matters - thanks, Frank, for this, a scene from Double Indemnity in which Raymond Chandler appears. It is fifty years since Chandler died and sixty-five years since this great film - script by Chandler from a James M.Cain novel, directed by Billy Wilder - was released. I have watched this movie dozens of time. The sheer perfection is overpowering and addictive. It has everything - the sickly evil of Stanwyck's Phyllis, the easy opportunism of MacMurray's Walter Neff and the gutsy honour of Robinson's Keyes. The passion and pace of the direction - Wilder was always good, but this was his masterpiece - make it impossible to stop watching. Seeing that clip made me want to see it again. Now. It is all about America, of course, about plucking civilisation from the wilderness and mire of fallen humanity. Keyes gets it right in the end but at the cost of his friend. The closing exchange is devastating - ironic, offhand, suffused with male inhibition and momentously sad.
'Neff: Know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes?. 'Cause the guy you were looking for was too close. Right across the desk from ya.
Keyes: Closer than that, Walter.
Neff: I love you too.'
With stuff like that to think about, I really don't know why I've been torturing myself with trivia these last few days.
PS I just realised those closing lines remind me of the last two lines of Dylan's Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight.
'Tomorrow is never what it's supposed to be
And I need you, yeah.'
Ironic, offhand and endlessly sad.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:51 am