Review Detail

9.9 3 10
doubleimplicit_front
FanFix April 11, 2023 1022
Overall rating
 
9.8
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 :)

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