My Masters of Cinema Region 2 Bluray of Double Indemnity arrived yesterday afternoon. I popped it in and immediately noticed that it looked pretty good and very much like “film”, which is fine, but not what anyone or his brother or cousin would call dazzling. It looked as good as it could, I suppose, but not that much better than it did on DVD six or even fourteen years ago. I went right to my favorite scene:
PHYLLIS: You’re a smart insurance man, aren’t you, Mr. Neff?
NEFF: I’ve had eleven years of it. That and the extermination business.
NEFF: Neff’s Digital Mosquito Removal. Started it a couple of years ago.
PHYLLIS: Doesn’t insurance keep you pretty busy?
NEFF: Yeah, but there’s a need for both, and I’m good at both. Everybody needs insurance and…well, look around us right now, right here in this living room. You and I are covered under billions of digital mosquitoes. I love that anklet, Mrs. Dietrichson, and I love that towel you were wearing a few minutes ago, but I also like clean air. I like to see things plain. I don’t think it’s all that attractive to live in the middle of an Egyptian mosquito swarm 24/7. And I don’t like that weird feeling of mosquitoes in my lungs every time I take a breath. How ’bout yourself?
PHYLLIS: You’re saying I have a choice?
NEFF: You bet you have a choice.
PHYLLIS: You can get rid of them entirely?
NEFF: No, not entirely. Mosquitoes are the basic molecules of grain, and grain is what we’re made of. It’s what keeps us together, gives us unity and cohesion. But it has to be kept in check. I’m not talking about killing all the mosquitoes but a significant percentage of them. So they wouldn’t feel so oppressive. So we could clear the air a bit.
PHYLLIS: How would it work?
NEFF: Three visits, $25 a shot. We come in here with our special vacuum cleaners and suck up the mosquitoes. And then two more times to make sure they’re gone. Or all but gone, I should say.
PHYLLIS: So $75 then?
NEFF: Except you’d get a discount, of course.
PHYLLIS: A discount?
NEFF: That’s right. (Two beats.) You know what I mean.
PHYLLIS: Then I’d say we have something to talk about, Mr. Neff.
She sits down again, in the same position as before.
NEFF: I wish you’d tell me what’s engraved on that anklet.
PHYLLIS: Just my name.
NEFF: As for instance?
NEFF: Phyllis. I think I like that.
PHYLLIS: But you’re not sure?
NEFF: I’d have to drive it around the block a couple of times.
PHYLLIS: (Standing again) Mr. Neff, why don’t you drop by tomorrow evening about eight- thirty. He’ll be in then.
PHYLLIS: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren’t you?
NEFF: Sure, only I’m getting over it a little. If you know what I mean.
PHYLLIS: There’s a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.
NEFF: How fast was I going, officer?
PHYLLIS: I’d say about ninety.
NEFF: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
PHYLLIS: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time?
NEFF: Suppose it doesn’t take?
PHYLLIS: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles?
NEFF: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder?
PHYLLIS: Suppose you try putting it on my husband’s shoulder?
NEFF: That tears it.