Analysis Project #1: Double Indemnity

This shot-by-shot breakdown will be on the scene in Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) where Walter Neff first meets Mrs. Dietrichson. 23 shots.

– LS, slight high angle, straight on. Pan right to follow a car coming up the road to pull into a driveway. Narration and non-diegetic music in the background. Walter gets out of the car, camera pans and tilts up to follow him up the walkway. Dissolves into next shot.

– MS, straight on. Walter rings the door bell and a woman answers the door (the maid), entering the frame from the right. Walter lets himself in and the camera cuts to inside the house. Non-diegetic music continues, but lowers in volume.

– MS, straight on. Walter is inside the house talking to the maid. We hear an offscreen voice and the camera cuts to move in position from behind Walter as an over-the-shoulder shot.

– VLS, low angle. Mrs. Dietrichson is standing on the balcony upstairs. Walter and the maid are in the immediate foreground, still in focus.

– MCU, high angle. Shot of Walter as he responds to Mrs. Dietrichson.

– LS, low angle. Mrs. D responds to Walter. Walter answers, but offscreen as the camera stays on Mrs. D.

– MCU, high angle. Walter answers direct question.

– MS, low angle. Camera keeps getting closer to Mrs. D as she continues to answer Walter. She eventually leaves the frame, walking into a doorway in the background.

– AS, straight on. Shot of Walter and the maid. Camera pans left to follow Walter into the living room.

– LS, reverse shot of Walter walking into the living room. The maid crosses the frame from the left in the background. Camera pans slowly as he examines the living room. Narration in the background as well as non-diegetic music.

– MCU, slight high angle, reverse shot behind Walter, over the shoulder as he examines some pictures.

– LS, reverse shot. Walter continues to examine living room. Camera doesn’t move. Narration/non-diegetic music continues.

– CU, straight on, low placement. Camera cuts to Mrs. D walking down the stairs. We only see her feet as Walter continues to narrate. The camera follows her feet as she continues down the stairs. Camera pulls back to a medium shot as she reaches the bottom of the stairs. Camera tracks backward as she walks towards us, then pans left to follow her into the living room. She walks up to a mirror where we see her reflection, as well as Walter’s over her shoulder. Walter enters the actual frame from the right. Camera stays on Mrs. D.

– LS, straight on. Mrs. D sits in a chair to the right of the frame, Walter enters from the left. Camera stays on them while they talk. Mrs. D gets up and the camera pans right to follow her in a medium shot. She paces back and forth and the camera pans left and right to follow. Walter speaking from offscreen.

– MS, slight high angle. Walter sitting on the arm of the couch, speaking. Mrs. D answers from outside the frame.

– MS, straight on. Camera on Mrs. D pans left to follow until we see Walter on the left side of the frame and they are both visible.

– CU, straight on of Walter as he speaks.

– CU, reverse shot straight on of Mrs. D.

– CU, straight on of Walter.

– MLS, straight on. Walter and Mrs. D are both in the frame. Mrs. D gets up and camera pans left and zooms in to follow them as they walk slowly away from the camera. They face each other and we are behind Mrs. D, over the shoulder.

– MCU, slight side angle, facing Mrs. D.

– MS, reverse shot, slight low angle of Walter as they converse. Cuts back to facing Mrs. D.

– MS, straight on, pans left as Walter turns around to get his hat. Pans right as he walks back across the living room. Mrs. D comes back into the frame and we follow them both as they walk towards the door. They exchange good byes, Walter opens the door and leaves the house and frame.

This scene uses a substantial amount of cuts as Walter and Mrs. Dietrichson are introduced to each other. There is plenty of flirtation taking place as they playfully make use of metaphors and innuendos. There a good number of shadows throughout the house despite it being daytime. It is almost a stark contrast from the outside world. Objects aren’t greatly emphasized as the focus is primarily on the conversation and facial expressions/reactions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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