Monday, September 21, 2009

#2. barbara stanwyck in double indemnity

the only actor with two entries on this list, barbara stanwyck's performance as phyllis dietrichson, arguably one of cinema's greatest femme fatales, is absolutely perfect. ravishing and beautiful, with a steamy and sexy, smoky voice, phyllis traps a travelling insurance salesman (fred macmurray) in her web, seducing him in an effort to kill her husband and cash in on his life insurance policy, which includes a double indemnity clause. meaning: if her husband's death is ruled an accident, the bereaved widow receives twice the normal amount. phyllis' powers of manipulation lead her dumbstruck lover to commit the deed, which ensures her financial expectations, leaving him "holding the gun." when the web is unraveled, walter realizes that phyllis' actions were not out of genuine love for him, simply another obstacle in the way of her pure, unadulterated greed. stanwyck is as beautiful as ever in this role. she never won an oscar in her entire career, despite four nominations. she was given an honorary award in 1982. she died in 1990.

*nominated for 1945 best actress oscar
lost to ingrid bergman in gaslight

greatest moment: see below

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