Classic Noir: Double Indemnity X Body Heat

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Classic Noir: Double Indemnity X Body Heat

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Watching Body Heat, I could already tell some similarities to Double Indemnity. One of the main similarity would be the character types. Both, Double Indemnity and Body Heat have a male protagonist who is bewitched by the femme fatale’s beauty.

Both weak male protagonists were under the spell of Matty and Phyllis. From the first moment when Walter meets Phyllis and Ned meets Matty, they were deeply enchanted by their beauty. One night at a concert Ned met Matty. He was standing in the back and Matty got up to walk out and have a cigarrete. As Matty walked out the windblown and her white dress blown up revealing her legs. Later when Matty was getting out of the car, the camera did a zoom on her legs. This pretty much happened when Walter met Phyllis, she was only wearing a towel revealing much of her body and the next scene was a zoom of her legs coming down the stairs. I Believe the camera showing their legs was a nice way to show the simplest part of their body and making them sexy without being vulgar.

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Another similarity was that both male characters jobs were something to do with the law. Walter From Double Indemnity dealt with accident insurance and Ned from Body Heat was an attorney. Walter and Ned had the knowledge from their jobs to figure out how to do what they need to do. Both Characters believed that they could kill the man because they knew how to get around the laws.

Classic noir films emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. The protagonist is an anti-hero, usually a private eye, a hapless grafter, a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime. He is usually a man alienated from society, suffering an existential crisis, often lead astray by a femme fatale. He is a serious person facing morally ambiguous decisions. He is constantly fighting with the world around him that seems to be out to get him.

The female characters: Matty Walker from Body Heat and Phyllis Dietcirhson from Double Indemnity. Both women were beautiful and blond and had rich husbands that were not around much. Both women wanted their husband’s dead. They knew about their husband’s testament and will and wanted to alter them. Matty’s husband had a niece that he would leave some of his possessions to. Phyllis’s husband had a daughter from a previous marriage that he wanted to leave his possessions to. Phyllis and Matty got the male protagonist to fell in love with them and had them killing their husband. In both cases the wives were there when the man killed their husband. But the men were the one’s doing the dirty work. The men did it because they believed that the femme fatale was in love with them and wanted to be with them.

Neo-noir films often incorporated modern circumstances and technology, which were typically absent or unimportant in the classic film noir. In the noir films, audiences followed the protagonist, building up a relationship with him and understanding how and why he does what he does. However, the neo-noir films employ unconventional camera movements and plot progression that constantly remind the audiences that they are merely watching the film and are not part of the story.

The difference between the two movies, was that in the end of Double Indemnity both characters die. In Body Heat the characters both live. Ned was in jail going crazy trying to find out about Matty Walker and meanwhile Matty Walker was Maryann who was on an island living her dream.

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