Film analysis project #2

       Billy Wilder’s  1944 film double indemnity is a prime example of the “the male gaze”. The fact that is also a film Noir film makes it a good example as well. Phyliss’s character depends on the “male gaze” for the simple fact that she is a spider woman. To be a spider woman you must be able to trap men into a web of lies which most of the time involves sexual exploitation of the woman.  The camera angles for the introduction scene when Walter met Phyliss are clearly from a male perspective. The female character is being looking at as a sexual symbol and she knows it and is using it to further build her character and the motive of the character.

       The scene starts off with a low shot from Walter’s point of view from the bottom looking up to the staircase. Phyliss is walking to the staircase  and stops in the door way of the hall way in just a towel. The shot turns to a medium shot as she walks slowly to the staircase balcony as Walter identifies himself. She asks him “anything I can do” in a suggestive manner, and the camera cuts to a close up reaction of Walter smiling.  He is looking at her as a object and the spider woman she is, chooses to dance with the idea. Walter mentions the fact that she is not covered and if she wants to get covered, the camera cuts to a low angle medium shot of her with a slight smile on her face. There then is a close up low angle of Phyliss as she reveals that she is sun bathing and states “if your wait until I put something on i’ll be right down”. There were many references to the fact that she does not have cloths on, which plays on the females sexuality and the male eyes being perception of the view.

       There is also another woman in the scene which is the maid Nettie.  They are both females but completely opposite which makes the sexually so much more powerful for Phyliss. The maid being un glamorous, having such an agressive personality,a bit of attitude all brings more attention to Phyliss’s exterior.  The camera barely shows the maid for this scene while Phyliss is there because we are looking out of Walters gaze and its 100% on Phyliss’s physical appearance. You also see Walter’s reaction to Phyliss statements, again with no view of the maid. This shows that Walter is using  getting webbed in and that she knows it so her focus is on the man to retain him.

       As Phyliss is getting dressed Walter says  that he is thinking of that “dame” upstairs and how she looked at him . He also states how he wants to see her again withi out the silly staircase in between them. This goes to show how he just sees her as a object of viewing pleasure just by the way he referred to her. His statement also lets it be known that he is aware that she is accepting of the male gaze because of the way she looked at him in return. As Walter is speaking of her the camera cuts to a close up of Phyliss’s legs through the railing as she comes down the steps. You notice she has a ankle bracelet on, and when she reaches the bottom the camera travels up the rest of her body as if a man was looking at her. When the camera stops at her upper half you notice she is still buttoning up her dress. Phyliss then proceeds to put lip stick on in the mirror in front of Walter. these are all things she could have done upstairs but she chose not to and is aware of the femaleness behind it. These small little parts are bringing attention to different parts of her body.

       When both characters enter the living room, our spider woman sits on the couch in which the camera is framed around her. The legs are being shown in a crossed position exposing the ankle bracelet more. When Walter compliments the bracelet she uncrosses her legs. Phyliss then next gets up walks around asking insurance questions and when she sits again with the legs crossed which causes Walter to comment on the bracelet again.  The camera is framed as if we are looking from Walters perspective because all we see is his back as he’s seated mainly. 

        I found the ending of this scene to be very interesting because of the blatant flirting between the two. Walter is there for her husband which he forgets and Phyliss is toying with Walter because he has capabilities she wants for her web.   When Walter is flirting she tells him the speed limit is 45 and he’s doing 90. Walter’s response was for her to get off her motorcycle and give him a ticket which she states she’ll give him a warning. Walter proceeds to say suppose the warning doesn’t take in which she responds then she’ll wack him. His answer to that was suppose he cries and lays his head on her shoulder, she responded with how bout me husbands shoulder.  The scene ends with Walter saying ” same chair same anklet”  Phyliss answers ” I wonder if I know what you mean” which leads to him saying ” I wonder if you wonder”. This scene shows Phyliss using her sexuality  or femaleness as power. She is teasing Walter and Walter is taking the bait  with a smile upon his face.

       The point being made is that woman is a threatening sexual being who in the end in the result of it will be punished. She is a spider woman who is building a web which soon will be the death of her. Being that the camera is attentive to her from a male’s point of view, when she ends up being punished the audience shoudln’t feel bad because they feel deceived like the man. The “male gaze’ was evident in this scene but it was also evident that the female was fully aware of it and used it to her advantage.

Movie: DOUBLE INDEMNITY , SCENE: Phyliss & Walter get Mr Dieder to sign insurance papers inside the home (living room 13 shots discussed)

      . Medium shot opening with Lola playing a board game; the camera zooms out slowly which then shows Phyliss at the table aswell whom is smoking & playing aswell. (Blinds are behind the couch) the camera continue to zoom out of the shot, revealing Mr Dieder laying on the couch then Walter in the left corner. The camera stays still when it’s capturing all characters. During this first shot Walter is speaking entire time although he was last to be seen

    .Close up on Mr.Dieder as he lays on the couch explaining Phyliss’s spending habits as he plays with his glasses.

    .Close up on Walter explaining “accident” cheap insurance, next shot shows mr Dieder not compelling then starts to sit up right on the couch and beginns to drink.

     .Close up  to Walter getting automobile renewal papers and cuts to Lola and      Phyliss whom’s bored with the game .

      LS as Lola walks to her father asking if she can go out, every one is framed in the shot.  Phyliss brings up Nino’s name, camera cuts & CU to Mr Dieder  his reaction the the name sparks anger & starts to scold Lola if shes going to meet him. CU  reverse shot on Lola telling her father she is going to go ice skating with her famale friends. As She speaks the lighting of the lamp is reflected on her hair and back. Her face is very stern and authoritive until she seems to catch her self and gives an expression of startledness. After she gets permission to go LS of Lola as she leaves the room into the hall way showing the staircase. Shadows of the staircase prominently reflected on wall to symbolize leaving the scene.

      Phyliss now comes closer to the area of the men, the couch in which Lola was sitting on is still in the shot , as if center of the frame. Deep focus showing the funiture and objects on the table such as bottles, glass cups, ash trays and tea cups. CU on Phyliss explaining Mr.Dieder going to San francisco for a class reunion (key point in plan to get husband murdered). MS cut to Mr. Dieder gettin renewal papers hes now putting on his glasses, behind him you can see blinds (re-ocurring pattern within film). The tone is now becoming suspensful within the scene as Mr.Dieder signs the papers, LS on Phyliss perfectly framed between him and Walter. Shallow depth of field here for the men in which there is sharp focus on Phyliss to show her pleased reaction.

      CU , reverse shot on Walters face to Phyliss(as if a unspoken word between him & Phyliss). Walters face is very stoic but yet serious at the same time. Non-diegetic music now beginns to play which is very  omnimous and dark. CU reverse shot on Phyliss (blinds behind her) in which she looks slightly concerned. CU reverse shot of walter watching Mr.Dieder sign papers, Walter beginns to look anxious and suspicious.

      The scene then proceeds with a LS long take of them all leaving the room. Mr Dieder leaves the living room first with Phyliss & Walter following (blinds in the back ground showing good focus). LS shot then of Mr.Dieder going upstairs with the stair case railings again being shadowed on the wall. You can tell this are is dim lim due to the stair case shadows & lamp shadows, the lighting is very dim. Ending the scene with the MS of Phyliss & Walter watching MR.Dieder go upstairs completely until he cant be seen to discuss the plan.

       The tone of this Scene starts off as a normal family night displaying the games and evryone joined in the living room. There are a lot of objects in the living room showing a good depth of field to include the objects and the characters. As the scene progress you can see the shift of reaction between Walter & Phyliss and Mr Dieder. Mr Dieder is home & comfortable and was even laying down at one point, he signs what he thinks is renewly papers feels at ease goes to pour a drink. Walter & phyliss on the other hand have these reverse shot exchanges showing their suspenseful reactions. Shortly after Lola leaves the scene that is when the non-diegetic music plays and carries out cynically for the rest of the scene. The Framing of the scene needed the focus in order to show the blinds which occurs in multiple scenes throughout this film.