Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck star in this film noir that keeps pulling the characters deeper into trouble. He’s an insurance salesman. She’s a soon-to-be-widow, if she can work out all the details. Her only problem is that she needs the helpful participation of the insurance salesman. Edward G. Robinson plays Mr. Keyes, the one person they have to look out for.
Stanwyk’s brilliant acting made the femme fatale believable. One almost feels sorry for the poor insurance salesman, except for the fact that, in his greed, he’s lost all sight of common sense and morality. The darkness of theme and imagery is what makes this such a great example of film noir. The use of dramatic shadows made each scene more suspenseful.
Billy Wilder directed this black and white classic about hiding the truth. Wilder and Raymond Chandler adapted their screenplay from the novel by James M. Cain. Cain based his novel on the true story of a 1920s murder trial. Costumes were designed by Edith Head.