REVIEWS: A Queer Review of Double Indemnity | Ball State Daily | Ball State Daily
Double Indemnity is a noir film involving an insurance tone, but it does suggest a playful relationship between the two that has gone on for a long time. In the middle of the movie, Neff's recalls Keyes helping him with a. Double Indemnity has been called “a film without a single trace of pity or love. into helping her gain what she wanted, freedom fro her marriage and the Close to the end of the movie, Neff listens to a recording that Keyes. Insurance salesman Walter Neff and his boss Barton Keyes, played by Edward G. He'll help her get her husband to sign the double indemnity insurance papers. Even before the "accident" we begin to feel that their relationship is cooling.
There are numerous visual representations of character traits, relationships, and masculine subtleties in the film.
This relationship is visually represented by lighting matches for one another, the physical space that each man encompasses throughout the film, and the final scene of the Double Indemnity.
In the historical context of the film, gentlemen always lit matches for ladies, as it was a part if the dynamic of the man being in control of the relationship.
This would mean that strong, and presumably masculine men would never allow another man to light their matches for them, as it would be a perceived as a more feminine trait that would reflect on their relationship. In Double Indemnity Keyes constantly tries and fails, to light matches for himself.
The first point that this action suggests is that Keyes is not man enough to light his own cigarettes, putting him in the position of a woman. The second point that this suggests is that when Keyes cannot light his match,Water perpetually lights them for him. This directly visualizes the level of dependance that Keyes has for Walter as it leads to the assumption that were Walter not there Keyes would be unable to light his own cigarettes.
The second thing that the matches suggest is that Walter is the more masculine of the two males in this film.
This visually demonstrates that Keyes adds a distinctively more feminine dynamic to the relationship. It must be taken into consideration that it is always Walter that lights the matches and never Keyes, until the final scene in which the dynamic is altered, because it reinforces that lighting matches is not something that male friends do for one another.
DOUBLE INDEMNITY: The Self-Destruction of Walter Neff | Film: History, Culture, and Change
Walter always situates himself in the foreground of the frame, while Keyes stands constantly in the background. This visually portrays that Walter stands in a more important and larger position than Keyes.
Walter also takes up more of the frame, which shows that physically he is once again more important than Keyes. Another unavoidable visual representation of the relationship between these two men is the Walter is of a considerably more substantial height than Keyes. Walter being larger and shot closer to the camera portrays immediately, and almost urgently, that Walter is of more importance not only to the story but also in the way in which he interacts with Keyes.
The dynamic of these two men is completely reversed in the final scene of the film. This shift really begins in the opening scene of the film, which chronologically occurs at the end of the narrative. Walter walks to his office with blood on his shirt, hunched over, walking with a slight limp. This is a direct reference to the loss of his masculinity, where once he used to walk tall, he now is diminished in stature. Once he arrives at his office he sits in his chair with poor posture, and sits low and small in the frame.
There are subtle hints throughout the movie that imply the relationship between these two men is more than what it seems at first glance. Couldn't the co-writer, Raymond Chandler a rumored repressed homosexual, have used different words? The two men act familiar with each other, much differently than what we would expect in the s. In their scenes together, there is always a moment when Keyes cannot light his cigarette, so Neff lights it for him.
This feels very intimate considering Neff is lighting a cigarette in Keyes's mouth. Even in the final scene where Neff is dying, Keyes returns the favor of lighting Neff's cigarette.
REVIEWS: A Queer Review of Double Indemnity
By lighting the other's cigarette, this is a casual expression of their love for each other. At a point in the film Keyes offers a job to Neff, which involves Neff becoming his assistant instead of being a salesman. Keyes believes the job to be much more respectable than Neff's current position.
He can't believe that Neff would turn it down, and he even looks insulted. The job itself doesn't seem like that great of an offer; there's a fifty dollar cut in pay and he's stuck at a desk all day shuffling papers.
However, to Keyes it means Neff will always be by his side and he won't be seeing other people anymore. This is probably the closest to a marriage proposal Keyes or the film can get to. The two have a very close relationship that Phyllis drives a wedge between by having an affair with Neff.
The similarities between Phyllis and Keyes in the movie are what ties this interpretation together. Phyllis and Keyes are the two closest to Neff.