September 8, 1944 [Double Indemnity]

--> Fred MacMurray walks into the spotlight—and it lies like shining sweat on his face, making him blink, his suit rumpling even as he stands there soaked with middle-class venality, a guy who thinks he's got a bead on things, with an almost-new sedan and an adding machine and the urge to lie down with Barbara Stanwyck and run his weak mouth over every inch of her bland and curving housewife.

James M. Cain is a deeply committed pornographer of submission, so much so that it stops feeling like smut and assumes a reality—our own, the next half of the American Century* marked by precise actuarial projections of cotton-headed lust and yearning, followed by apologetic smiles all around, with a widening stain in the general vicinity of the heart. You know you're in trouble when Edward G. Robinson is the only one waiting to catch you.


*The Diarist is probably referring to a now-familiar phrase coined by Time magazine publisher Henry Luce, who in a 1941 Life magazine editorial urged the U.S. to become a global power for "the triumphal purpose of freedom," adding, "It is in this spirit that all of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American Century."


  1. What a movie it was...Billy always gives you your money's worth..the details have fuzzed, the aftertaste lingers...

  2. Barbra had a bland and curving housewife?..whom Fred wanted to run his mouth over? Whoa!

  3. "Barbra had a bland and curving housewife?" No; it's a convention of acting to refer to an actor's character in the possessive: "Lawrence Olivier was a versatile actor. His gold-hungry Nazi in 'Marathon Man,' etc." You silly thing!

  4. Hummm. I must educate myself...Hahaha


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