Monday, December 18, 2006

Beware of the Blonde

"Double Indemnity" was on Turner Classic Movies yesterday, and I turned it on for a few minutes -- just for the classic scene with Barbara Stanwyck's anklet -- and stayed for the whole thing because on average every third scene is a classic scene.

The best is the last one. Fred McMurray with Barbara Stanwyck's bullet in him, tries for the elevator -- and Mexico and freedom. Edward G. Robinson doesn't try to stop him or help him either. "You won't make it to the elevator," Robinson says, and throughout the film Robinson knows all and sees all.

Except he didn't know that his friend, his protege, his substitute son, is a killer. (Or maybe he knows but refuses to know. You could make the case.)

But he knows McMurray won't make the elevator.

McMurray collapses. The cops are on the way. McMurray pulls out a cigarette, a symbolic last smoke, and Robinson strikes a match with his fingernail, the way McMurray has been lighting cigars for "Keyes" the entire movie, the conceit being that Robinson has no matches.

The TCM host said that Billy Wilder, the director, shot a gas chamber final scene but had the good sense not to use it. The tragedy is not McMurray's death. It's his betrayal of his friend.

A very good movie for the holiday season, don't you think?


B. Wieder said...

Key Largo!
Key Largo!
Key Largo!
Key Largo!
Key Largo!
Don't make me go on...

....J.Michael Robertson said...

As Rocco (Rico? I think that's another movie) said: "I've had a wonderful life."