Although I had heard of this film I never realized it heavily satirized the classic Noir thriller Double Indemnity. What we get here is insurance agent Alan Arkin taken in by sultry blonde Beverly D’Angelo who is looking to make some big insurance money by removing her husband Peter Falk via the double indemnity clause on a life insurance policy. Arkin is ripe for the taking as he needs a way to fund his triplet sons into Yale this fall.

big trouble

Acting/directing great John Cassavetes was behind the camera for this comedy which does justice to the sub genre of screwball comedy. Taking the main plot line of the 1944 classic, this film sends us off the tracks in it’s own funny direction when Falk turns up as the grieving widows lawyer. No surprise that Arkin does a wonderful job in this as the patsy who has no idea where Falk will be leading him next as he plots to get the insurance settlement paid out to D’Angelo. In the Edward G. Robinson role of the suspicious investigator we get a lively performance out of Charles Durning who along with Arkin works for company president Robert Stack. The plot moves along at a zany pace and aside from a somewhat confusing coincidence towards the end that makes me think something may have been left on the cutting room floor the film is funny and worth a look.

Cassavetes and Falk had a long history together co starring in films from Machine Gun McCain to Mikey and Nickey. Cassavetes also directed Falk in some of his personal projects and even appeared on an episode of Columbo. Reuniting Falk with Alan Arkin must have seemed like a good idea as they had previously been paired in the hit comedy The In-Laws. Seeing D’Angelo in this reminded me of just how attractive she can be when not playing the bumbling wife of Chevy Chase. Charles Durning once again loses his temper which is par for the course of which I never tire and although Robert Stack doesn’t do too much it’s always nice to hear his authoritative voice.

All in all, a pleasant surprise.