Double Indemnity: The Implicit Cut

Updated
 
10.0
 
10.0 (2)
1097 1 1
doubleimplicit_front
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1944
Original Running Time:
107 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
92 minutes
Subtitles Available:
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
For my next act of film blasphemy, noir classic Double Indemnity is stripped of its iconic narration and given a linear chronology. This is not intended as a fan-fix per se, but as an experiment in seeing how the film functions when its main storytelling device is removed and limited to an implicit visual narrative, rather than an explicit voice-over. In addition, moving the opening scene to the end allows for a little more mystery as to exactly how things play out.
Intention:
Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Double Indemnity. While I recognise its role in developing the genre, I still consider it a touch overrated both as noir and as part of Wilder's filmography. Nevertheless, fixing it isn't something that ever occurred to me. After a recent rewatch I noticed that my copy came with an isolated score track and thought that it was a good opportunity to create an alternate option with fewer headaches than normal. I have always been interested in the use of overdubbed narration in film and how often it is actually needed. Double Indemnity is a film that I believe benefits from it stylistically, but narratively it only plays a small role, largely delivering redundant information to the viewer. While this isn't necessarily intended as a replacement (Chandler writes some wonderful lines for the narration), I think this version does provide a brisker pace and a little more mystery. Regardless, I will be interested to hear what people think.

Since my preferences for "fixing" moments are fairly light, I don't think I'll ever do another cut beyond this one. Therefore, I've taken the opportunity to incorporate a couple of personal tweaks.
Other Sources:
Freesound.org
Special Thanks:
Extra special thanks to SeaCom for previewing my workprint and providing feedback on changes. The edit is all the better for it. Thanks also to my friend Joebby for proofing the final version with subtitles.
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
The isolated score proved very useful in smoothing certain transitions but foley was still needed. The sound was rebuilt for some scenes using a mix of sound effects from freesound.org, various samples I've collected over time, and some re-used extracts from the film itself.
Cuts and Additions:
The Gist:

- Trimmed opening of film and moved to end for a chronological telling.
- Removed all narration and cut all interludes with Neff confessing
- Tweaks to score here and there, to avoid repetition of the main theme and sometimes to aid transitions
- A handful of personal tweaks.


This is a near-complete cutlist. I don't always remember to note everything down:

- 0:00 - added source warning
- 0:13 - Added FE and scribbling man titles
- 0:22 - Paramount logo is now unscored (for consistency and in order to aid new opening)
- 0:24 - minor trim to first shot of opening credits. Ending cue is changed for the sake of providing a more appropriate lead into the new opening scene.
- 1:22 - Original traffic opening cut. Office scene moved to end of film. We now go straight to the past/start of story. Narration has been scrubbed from walk to house and foley added. Shot trimmed.
- 2:50 - narration scrubbed
- 3:07 - cut shot of Neff walking around while he narrates. instead we cut straight to Phyliss walking down the steps.
- 3:11 - added shot of Neff watching her. This normally comes at the end of the narration followed by her walking down the stairs, but this intercutting allowed for better pacing and visual continuity after cuts
- 6:06 - cut shot of Neff driving while he narrates. Foley for office establishing shot
- 9:16 - main theme swapped for love theme so as to lead better into next scene. This also works nicely for Neff and Keyes' friendship (especially as Neff says "I love you too"). Foley to accommodate.
- 9:23 - cut Neff walking to his office and subsequent scene where he receives the note to come in the afternoon instead of the evening. Without the narration this scene doesn't give the viewer any new information, and Phyliss immediately repeats this info to the audience in the following scene.
- 14:22 - Different musical cue and it starts earlier to aid transition and cover narration. Foley to accommodate.
- 14:28 - cut Neff walking to his car and subsequent narration montage (drinking, bowling etc.). We fade straight to him driving home in the evening. Foley.
- 14:34 - shot slowed for a better-paced transition.
- 14:36 - trimmed Neff pacing while he narrates. Narration scrubbed. Foley.
- 16:42 - cut "I'm crazy about you, baby" and "I'm crazy about you too, Walter". There's no getting around the melodrama, but this was an easy moment to tone down and I think the scene comes across better without it.
- 17:57 - Neff says "woman" instead of "coloured woman" when referring to his housekeeper
- 20:20 - different musical cue and it comes in sooner to aid scrubbing of narration.
- 20:32 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession
- 21:17 - cut "you're hurting me, Walter"
- 22:22 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession
- 28:42 - different musical cue. narration scrubbed
- 28:44 - shorter shot of Neff driving
- 28:50 - narration scrubbed. Foley
- 28:54 - trimmed walking around supermarket. narration scrubbed
- 30:52 - tweaked musical cue. Comes in sooner. Narration scrubbed.
- 30:58 - trimmed Neff looking at notes. Narration scrubbed.
- 35:21 - narration scrubbed. Music tweaked. Added foley. This sequence is normally quite long, with Neff wandering around his office. Crossfades added to imply a passage of time as he thinks and preps his alibi
- 35:34 - narration scrubbed as car pulls up. Foley.
- 35:48 - this transition is exactly as it is in the original but the narration doesn't come in. The montage is trimmed to elements that are visually informative.
- 36:06 - lowered music volume and added foley. Narration is scrubbed. Shots trimmed.
- 36:21 - we now intercut between Phyliss and her husband walking to the car and Neff hiding. This allowed me to have less dawdling from Neff (since it normally has narration over the top) and also provide a little extra tension. These events normally follow one after the other instead of happening simultaneously.
- 36:26 - foley
- 38:38 - shot trimmed
- 42:43 - Neff is quicker to run to the car
- 42:44 - Phyliss is quicker to get out of the car
- 43:07 - trimmed Phyliss faffing around on the tracks.
- 43:21 - one shot of them running to the car instead of two
- 43:25 - the car doesn't stall. Foley to accommodate
- 43:36 - cut driving montage and overdub narration. Foley to accommodate transition
- 44:04 - trimmed end of prior shot
- 44:09 - cut montage of Neff returning home and checking phones as well as narration overdub
- 44:21 - trimmed Neff walking and removed narration.
- 44:30 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession. Fade in from black to next scene instead of crossfade
- 52:14 - Different musical cue. Cut walking between offices and accompanying narration. Crossfade to Neff at his apartment. All new foley until 52:28.
- 52:44 - trimmed pause in conversation
- 1:01:01 - cut narration and montage of Neff taking Lola out. Fade to black instead. This is the biggest narrative sacrifice in the edit IMO. It's a shame to lose it but the information is given to us again later and we are also shown him taking her out again later. The sequence comes across a bit awkward without the accompanying narration, I felt.
- 1:01:03 - trimmed Neff walking from his office, removed narration. Fade in from black.
- 1:06:32 - small trim to dialling phone
- 1:09:30 - different musical cue
- 1:09:37 - added fade in and out from Lola's face to better establish context for following scene. It's a while before she turns her head so, without the narration, it's not clear who Neff is with. Many thanks to Seacom for this suggestion. A scene with Neff confessing is also cut, and the walk up the hill trimmed (narration removed).
- 1:11:19 - cut narration. Fade into Keyes early.
- 1:12:18 - cut Neff riding the elevator and accompanying narration
- 1:15:17 - Narration scrubbed.
- 1:15:20 - Crossfade to Phyllis sooner
- 1:20:21 - fixed hiccup in original audio
- 1:23:43 - Neff confessing moved to later. Fade to car pulling up to office from start of film. Foley and score tweak to aid transition. The original beginning sequence of the film plays out untouched for a while.
- 1:27:40 - Score cue added to help ease into next scene
- 1:27:46 - Trimmed Neff's dialogue so that we don't hear too much of what we already know. Crossfade into ending sequence of Neff finishing his confession. Rest of film plays out untouched.
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1944
Original Running Time:
107 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
92 minutes
Subtitles Available:
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
For my next act of film blasphemy, noir classic Double Indemnity is stripped of its iconic narration and given a linear chronology. This is not intended as a fan-fix per se, but as an experiment in seeing how the film functions when its main storytelling device is removed and limited to an implicit visual narrative, rather than an explicit voice-over. In addition, moving the opening scene to the end allows for a little more mystery as to exactly how things play out.
Intention:
Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Double Indemnity. While I recognise its role in developing the genre, I still consider it a touch overrated both as noir and as part of Wilder's filmography. Nevertheless, fixing it isn't something that ever occurred to me. After a recent rewatch I noticed that my copy came with an isolated score track and thought that it was a good opportunity to create an alternate option with fewer headaches than normal. I have always been interested in the use of overdubbed narration in film and how often it is actually needed. Double Indemnity is a film that I believe benefits from it stylistically, but narratively it only plays a small role, largely delivering redundant information to the viewer. While this isn't necessarily intended as a replacement (Chandler writes some wonderful lines for the narration), I think this version does provide a brisker pace and a little more mystery. Regardless, I will be interested to hear what people think.

Since my preferences for "fixing" moments are fairly light, I don't think I'll ever do another cut beyond this one. Therefore, I've taken the opportunity to incorporate a couple of personal tweaks.
Other Sources:
Freesound.org
Special Thanks:
Extra special thanks to SeaCom for previewing my workprint and providing feedback on changes. The edit is all the better for it. Thanks also to my friend Joebby for proofing the final version with subtitles.
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
The isolated score proved very useful in smoothing certain transitions but foley was still needed. The sound was rebuilt for some scenes using a mix of sound effects from freesound.org, various samples I've collected over time, and some re-used extracts from the film itself.
Cuts and Additions:
The Gist:

- Trimmed opening of film and moved to end for a chronological telling.
- Removed all narration and cut all interludes with Neff confessing
- Tweaks to score here and there, to avoid repetition of the main theme and sometimes to aid transitions
- A handful of personal tweaks.


This is a near-complete cutlist. I don't always remember to note everything down:

- 0:00 - added source warning
- 0:13 - Added FE and scribbling man titles
- 0:22 - Paramount logo is now unscored (for consistency and in order to aid new opening)
- 0:24 - minor trim to first shot of opening credits. Ending cue is changed for the sake of providing a more appropriate lead into the new opening scene.
- 1:22 - Original traffic opening cut. Office scene moved to end of film. We now go straight to the past/start of story. Narration has been scrubbed from walk to house and foley added. Shot trimmed.
- 2:50 - narration scrubbed
- 3:07 - cut shot of Neff walking around while he narrates. instead we cut straight to Phyliss walking down the steps.
- 3:11 - added shot of Neff watching her. This normally comes at the end of the narration followed by her walking down the stairs, but this intercutting allowed for better pacing and visual continuity after cuts
- 6:06 - cut shot of Neff driving while he narrates. Foley for office establishing shot
- 9:16 - main theme swapped for love theme so as to lead better into next scene. This also works nicely for Neff and Keyes' friendship (especially as Neff says "I love you too"). Foley to accommodate.
- 9:23 - cut Neff walking to his office and subsequent scene where he receives the note to come in the afternoon instead of the evening. Without the narration this scene doesn't give the viewer any new information, and Phyliss immediately repeats this info to the audience in the following scene.
- 14:22 - Different musical cue and it starts earlier to aid transition and cover narration. Foley to accommodate.
- 14:28 - cut Neff walking to his car and subsequent narration montage (drinking, bowling etc.). We fade straight to him driving home in the evening. Foley.
- 14:34 - shot slowed for a better-paced transition.
- 14:36 - trimmed Neff pacing while he narrates. Narration scrubbed. Foley.
- 16:42 - cut "I'm crazy about you, baby" and "I'm crazy about you too, Walter". There's no getting around the melodrama, but this was an easy moment to tone down and I think the scene comes across better without it.
- 17:57 - Neff says "woman" instead of "coloured woman" when referring to his housekeeper
- 20:20 - different musical cue and it comes in sooner to aid scrubbing of narration.
- 20:32 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession
- 21:17 - cut "you're hurting me, Walter"
- 22:22 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession
- 28:42 - different musical cue. narration scrubbed
- 28:44 - shorter shot of Neff driving
- 28:50 - narration scrubbed. Foley
- 28:54 - trimmed walking around supermarket. narration scrubbed
- 30:52 - tweaked musical cue. Comes in sooner. Narration scrubbed.
- 30:58 - trimmed Neff looking at notes. Narration scrubbed.
- 35:21 - narration scrubbed. Music tweaked. Added foley. This sequence is normally quite long, with Neff wandering around his office. Crossfades added to imply a passage of time as he thinks and preps his alibi
- 35:34 - narration scrubbed as car pulls up. Foley.
- 35:48 - this transition is exactly as it is in the original but the narration doesn't come in. The montage is trimmed to elements that are visually informative.
- 36:06 - lowered music volume and added foley. Narration is scrubbed. Shots trimmed.
- 36:21 - we now intercut between Phyliss and her husband walking to the car and Neff hiding. This allowed me to have less dawdling from Neff (since it normally has narration over the top) and also provide a little extra tension. These events normally follow one after the other instead of happening simultaneously.
- 36:26 - foley
- 38:38 - shot trimmed
- 42:43 - Neff is quicker to run to the car
- 42:44 - Phyliss is quicker to get out of the car
- 43:07 - trimmed Phyliss faffing around on the tracks.
- 43:21 - one shot of them running to the car instead of two
- 43:25 - the car doesn't stall. Foley to accommodate
- 43:36 - cut driving montage and overdub narration. Foley to accommodate transition
- 44:04 - trimmed end of prior shot
- 44:09 - cut montage of Neff returning home and checking phones as well as narration overdub
- 44:21 - trimmed Neff walking and removed narration.
- 44:30 - cut scene of Neff recording his confession. Fade in from black to next scene instead of crossfade
- 52:14 - Different musical cue. Cut walking between offices and accompanying narration. Crossfade to Neff at his apartment. All new foley until 52:28.
- 52:44 - trimmed pause in conversation
- 1:01:01 - cut narration and montage of Neff taking Lola out. Fade to black instead. This is the biggest narrative sacrifice in the edit IMO. It's a shame to lose it but the information is given to us again later and we are also shown him taking her out again later. The sequence comes across a bit awkward without the accompanying narration, I felt.
- 1:01:03 - trimmed Neff walking from his office, removed narration. Fade in from black.
- 1:06:32 - small trim to dialling phone
- 1:09:30 - different musical cue
- 1:09:37 - added fade in and out from Lola's face to better establish context for following scene. It's a while before she turns her head so, without the narration, it's not clear who Neff is with. Many thanks to Seacom for this suggestion. A scene with Neff confessing is also cut, and the walk up the hill trimmed (narration removed).
- 1:11:19 - cut narration. Fade into Keyes early.
- 1:12:18 - cut Neff riding the elevator and accompanying narration
- 1:15:17 - Narration scrubbed.
- 1:15:20 - Crossfade to Phyllis sooner
- 1:20:21 - fixed hiccup in original audio
- 1:23:43 - Neff confessing moved to later. Fade to car pulling up to office from start of film. Foley and score tweak to aid transition. The original beginning sequence of the film plays out untouched for a while.
- 1:27:40 - Score cue added to help ease into next scene
- 1:27:46 - Trimmed Neff's dialogue so that we don't hear too much of what we already know. Crossfade into ending sequence of Neff finishing his confession. Rest of film plays out untouched.

Trusted Reviewer review

1 review
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Double Indemnity is arguably the greatest film noir ever made. For a lot of people at least, including myself. And those who disagree will likely consider it's up there anyway. So, how well would it work if stripped off one of its most iconic elements, the voiceover narration? Which admittedly is not really necesary for the narrative, but it's beautifully written, classic Chandler, and adds a layer of tragic fate upon the story, being for me the uber-example of a voiceover narration that actually enhances the story instead of feeling like a cheap, lazy way out.

And the answer provided by this Implicit Cut, which might just as easily have been called "the James M. Cain cut" since the confession angle is not in the book even though Cain himself loved the addition, is: it actually works remarkably well for the most part. I can only find two drawbacks: one is that the new opening, with Neff arriving to the Dietrichson house, has sort of an "in media res" feel, not the usual presentation of a main character. If this had been the theatrical opening, as per the classic film style it would most likely have featured a closeup insert of Neff stopping the car or stepping off it before approaching the hose. A "take a good look at this guy" moment. Phyllis gets it, Keyes gets it, even Mr. Jackson on the train gets it. In contrast, Neff gets the introduction of an unimportant character. The other thing is, the voiceover does add an "unreliable narrator" angle that is now gone: there's no doubt in both versions that the story he's telling is true, but since the narration has everything filtered through his point of view, it helps understand why he's so very confident around Phyllis from the start, basically behaving like James Bond the whole time, while it might be that he was actually not that suave, he only perceives himself to have been.

But once we get past that, everything works wonderfully, and I quickly forgot that there originally was a voiceover there. Now the story is less one of fatality and doom from the start, and more of a straight mystery thriller: the Columbo approach, with Keyes in place of the Lieutenant. Of course it is a Production Code era so we all know the culprit will be caught and punished, but still not the exact outcome. Also, it adds a few guessing spots: for instance, without the flashback structure we don't know if Keyes will make it to the end, so for all we know the very suspenseful apartment scene with Phyllis behind the door might easily result in Keyes getting killed. Along the way, pacing is speeded up but well maintained, and I admit at least one of the minor changes has unambiguously been for the better: gone is Neff referring to the woman that cleans his apartment specifically as "colored", which deep down is casually dehumanizing. Fortunately we've come a long way since that.

As usual in Scrib's releases, the editing and technical aspects are perfection. Nothing, other than maybe the comparatively underwhelming start style-wise, would indicate this has been tinkered with. Not a replacement for me since I consider than the original nailed it, but an enjoyable alternate approach, and any way you look at it this is still a great film. Not to mention that I'll always welcome more edits of classic movies!
Owner's reply April 23, 2023

Thank you, Mr Fry! I appreciate the detailed review and that's a very fair observation on the opening. I'm glad you enjoyed the experience :)

Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 0

User reviews

2 reviews
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(2)
Audio Editing
 
10.0(2)
Visual Editing
 
10.0(2)
Narrative
 
10.0(2)
Enjoyment
 
10.0(2)
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Bravo to The Scribbling Man for taking a stab at this. I've never quite understood this movie's all-time classic status, though I appreciate the film for what it is. Does it need the VO from the main character? I didn't think that was up for debate, but The Scribbling Man has made a strong case against it here. His edit works surprisingly well without it. It's a different take, mainly because you don't know the fate of the main character from the start now. On a technical level, audio and visual editing are really well done. I'd be really curious to hear from someone who watched this version first and then saw the original.

Maybe not The Scribbling Man's most essential edit, but a really interesting experiment with surprisingly satisfying results. Anyone who's a fan of the original should give this a watch.

User Review

Format Watched
Digital
Owner's reply June 04, 2023

Thanks for taking the time to review, seacom. Really appreciate it :)

Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 0
Overall rating
 
10.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Seemed too quiet at first - but I got used to it soon. I love the new beginning, the movie unfolds naturally and you have no clue where it’s going. Also I found myself caring more for the protagonist- without hearing his voice over he seems more like a small timer getting caught up.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 1 0