11. Double Indemnity, 1944. Once again, a Barbara Stanwyck performance that is nothing less than perfection. This time Stanwyck plays bad blond Phyllis Dietrichson, a hard-boiled tramp—her gold anklet speaks volumes—who wants her husband dead. Fred MacMurray is the cynical insurance salesman who steps libido-first into Dietrichson’s web of deceit. This is the movie that sets the standard for Film Noir, that most influential genre.
Several months ago I started a list of my picks for the Greatest Movies ever made. I began with silent films, made my way through the 30’s, then started the 40’s but got sidetracked by, um, laziness.
I’m going to continue with my list of the 20 films that I feel are the best of the 40’s. My picks are deeply personal and will enrage many film school types who will wonder why Citizen Kane is absent. Answer: it’s boring, pretentious and I have no idea what the film is about. Just try watching the movie with an audience of actual normal human beings instead of film geeks.
As you can see, the list is heavy on screwball comedies because anyone who knows anything about film knows that comedy is the hardest genre to master.
There is one foreign film on my list, Day of Wrath, directed by Carl Dreyer, a true masterpiece that never fails to reveal unexpected depths.
There are omissions, films that I love, but hey, this list is not written in stone and next year I can always come up with another list of the Greatest Movies—entirely revised.
All the films are available on DVD to which I link and many, if not all, on Netflix.