Analysis Project #1 Shot by Shot Breakdown of a Scene (Double Indemnity)

Double Indemnity (1944) 

Scene
This scene is from Double Indemnity.
In this scene Keyes is telling Walter that having two people
commit a murder is ten times twice as dangerous,
and are stuck together no matter what (1 minute long, 8 shots).

Shot 1 (2 Seconds)

Framing:  Medium Shot

Camera Placement: Low Angle Shot

Composition: Keyes is standing in front of the door,
on the left side of the shot. A coat rack with a jacket
and hat on it, is on the right side of the shot. Keyes
throws his hands up in the air and is also holding a cigar.
In addition on the door there are two names
which are clear, and visible.

Lighting: Shadow of the coat rack on the wall.
Also able to see Keyes clearly.

Depth of Field: Deep 

Camera Movement: None

Sound: Dietetic sound; Keyes talking. 

Straight Cut 

Shot 2 (11 Seconds)
Framing: Two Shot

Camera Placement: Straight on

Composition: Walter is in the foreground,
Keyes is in the background of the shot.
We see Keyes full body. Walter at first has
his back to Keyes, then turns around to
look at him while Keyes is speaking.
Walter sits down on the desk, and
Keyes walks towards Walter while speaking to him.

Lighting: Shadows on Walters back, and the back of his head.
Also shadows from the window shades forming on Keyes. 

Depth of Field: Deep

Camera Movement: Shows the back of Walter while
Keyes is speaking, until Keyes says someone else
(Walter) is involved in the murder.

Sound: Dietetic sound; Keyes talking.

Straight Cut 

Shot 3 (7 seconds)
Framing:  Medium Close Up

Camera Placement: Straight on

Composition: Camera is placed on
Walter chewing a match. All the focus is on walter as the
stuff in the background are hard to make out.

Lighting: Shadows from the window shade on the
wall, but no real shadows on Walter other then the
shadow of his own hand on his jacket. No real shadows
on Walter because Keyes is on to him.

Depth of Field: Shallow

Camera Movement: Focusing on Walter as Keyes
 is talking about who he think did the
murder in the Dietrichson case.

Sound: Dietetic sound; Keyes speaking.

Straight Cut 

Shot 4 (20 seconds)
Framing: Medium-Close up

Camera Placement: Straight on

Composition: Keyes is telling Walter that it is
impossible to get away with murder, especially
when two people are involved, because they have to
stick together, you can’t just jump off like a trolley ride,
and the last stop is the cemetery. 

Lighting: Less shadows in this shot. Names in the door
are barely legible. 

Depth of Field: Shallow

Camera Movement: None 

Sound: Dietetic sound; Keyes speaking.

Straight Cut 

Shot 5 (6 seconds)
Framing: Medium Shot  

Camera Placement: Over the Shoulder

Composition: Keyes lifts up the insurance claim
and says he will “throw it right back at her“.
Walters back is to the shot. Keyes grabs his
cigar looking for a match.

Lighting: Two names on the door are legible again.
No shadows on the walls. Shadow of window
shade on Keyes.  

Depth of Field: Deep

Camera Movement: Keyes checks his pocket
for a match.

Sound: Dietetic sound; Keyes speaking.

Straight Cut 

Shot 6 (5 Seconds)
Framing: Medium Close Up

Camera Placement: Straight on

Composition: Walter taking the match out of his
mouth to light a match for Keyes cigar.

Lighting: Walter is in deep focus, while the
stuff behind him is covered in shadows.  

Depth of Field: Shallow

Camera Movement: None 

Sound: Dietetic Sound; Keyes talking

Straight Cut 

Shot 7 (10 Seconds)
Framing: Medium Close Up

Camera Placement: Straight on

Composition: Keyes lighting his own cigar. He also
points to Walter when he says “And that someone else“.

Lighting: One dark shadow over the wall and door
 behind Keyes, which makes the names on the
door illegible once again.  

Depth of Field: Shallow

Camera Movement: Keyes moved from the
right of the shot to the left.

Sound: Dietetic Sound; Keyes talking,
and the lighting of the match.

Dissolve to the next scene

The reason i chose this scene from Double Indemnity is i believe even though it is only 1 minute in length, and Keyes is the lone speaker here, it is none the less packed with loads of information and stylistic decisions that relate to the entire film. One thing i enjoyed was throughout the film including in this scene, Walter was always there to light Keyes cigar. Being able to light your own cigar is viewed as a manly characteristic and Keyes was always relying on Walter to do it for him. In the begining of the film, Walter lights it for him completely, but as time goes on in the film and as Keyes starts to uncover the murder and whose behind it, he slowly begins to be able to do it himself. Finally it culminates at the end when Keyes lights Walters final smoke.

Another major theme in Double Indemnity was the idea of two of everything (happens in pairs). Which in this scene was brought to the forefront. Keyes was discussing how whenever two people are involved in something it always comes out “Sooner rather then later”. Some examples of the pattern of “Two’s” in the film was the two names on the door in this scene, or how the “accident” they construct happens between the two rails of a train station. Some other examples of this symbolism, is the fact that Phyllis Dietrichson was part of two murders, and Walter was involved and persuaded by two women throughout the course of the film (Lola and Phyllis). Keyes also discusses how the two murders are on a straight path/line, and can not jump off like a trolley car, there is only one stop and that’s to the cemetery. The straight line aspect was always very intriguing to me as Wilder used that throughout the film. For example when Walter went bowling, he rolled the pins straight down an alley to relax. But in the end there was nothing straight or easy for Walter as he was battling two sides.

Something i thought Wilder did beautifully was his use of lighting. Whenever he did caste a shadow upon someone or something it was done for a purpose and a meaning. In this scene when Keyes was talking and uncovering the murder, the shadow was no longer on Walter because Keyes was on to him. My favorite touch to the scene was in the final shot when Keyes was lighting his own cigar, and saying how he wants her to sue them,  he said “she’ll be digging her own grave” for her and the person she did it with while pointing and looking at Walter.

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