Acting

Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity – Movie Monologue Monday

This week we’re going to look at Fred MacMurray’s murder confession in Double Indemnity.

The interesting thing about this speech is that, despite the fact it feels like a movie ending, it actually comes at the beginning of the movie. Walter Neff (MacMurray) is an insurance salesman who kills a woman’s husband for the insurance money.

This scene is a classic example of economy of movement. Watch the monologue and notice how little he moves (maybe an inch?) through the entire piece. It’s also delivered top to tail in one locked down take.

Class Exercise

Watch the video and discuss these questions. Don’t worry about whether or not everyone has seen the whole movie. Fill in the missing details using what you see, hear, and imagine.

  • Do you think the next scene takes place in the future or the past? Why?
  • The actor barely moves at all. Why do you think that is?
  • How many cuts/edits are there in the scene? Why do you think the director made that choice? Do you think it made it easier or harder on the actor?
  • One of the biggest moves the actor makes during his monologue happens when he looks away on the line “No visible scars… until a while ago, that is.” Why did he choose that line to move?
  • At the beginning of the monologue he speaks in long sentences but by the end he is speaking in very short phrases. Why did the writer write the monologue that way?
  • Do you think the character is telling the truth? Why or why not?

About the author

Craig Mason