324 - Recommended Reading: Double Indemnity



John Young (Standard British accent)

A book recommendation: the second crime novel by James M. Cain. His first was The Postman Always Rings Twice, one of the great names in crime fiction and film noir, and he followed that up… it’s a remarkable… you’d think that was a hard act to follow, but he followed it with Double Indemnity, which is equally a masterpiece of the genre to read, with a highly accessible, straightforward style, a fascinating but clear and linear narrative, which makes it accessible for the non-native speaker as a… as a book to read and enjoy, and in just the same way as his first novel, it was turned into a classic film, perhaps even a greater film adaptation, one by Billy Wilder, starring Fred McMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. And the film adaptation enables you to enjoy the book first and then perhaps go on and perhaps even study the dialogue that you see that gets transferred into the movie, whether the plot works in exactly same way, and I think it’s a… almost without noticing, you’ll find yourself actually enjoying studying English from the point of view of how it works in the book, and then how it works in the… in the film, and the whole exercise will be thoroughly useful and enjoyable.

(John Young was talking to Mark Worden)

James M. Cain, Double Indemnity

This novella was first published in 1943 (it had previously been serialized in Liberty magazine). The following year director Billy Wilder made the film version (another thriller writer, Raymond Chandler, wrote the screenplay), which starred Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson. It's a classic film noir, and you can decide whether to watch the movie before reading the book, or vice-versa.