Life, death, and insurance in film noir

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By Daniel D. Skwire | 01 May 2008

Connoisseurs of film noir have long recognized Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) as one of the first and most important examples of the genre. The film’s striking visual style, flashback narrative, and dangerous and desirable femme fatale became defining elements of film noir.

If Double Indemnity is of such importance to film scholars, however, it’s surely of equal interest to insurance enthusiasts. The film was the first to explore the subject in all its complexity, and its influential treatment of insurance as a motivating force for both good and evil led to a particularly prominent role for insurance in film noir.

This article appeared in the May/June 2008 issue of Contingencies, a bimonthly magazine published by the American Academy of Actuaries.

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