Double Agent 73 [DVD] [1970]

Released as part of Universal Home Entertainment's "Universal Legacy Series" (amusing, since it was produced and released by Paramount), this two-disc deluxe release of Billy Wilder"s Double Indemnity gives one of Hollywood"s most memorable examples of film noir an uncommonly glitzy presentation. Double Indemnity has been given a new transfer to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1; while the image lacks the digitally over-processed sheen of some recent releases of vintage titles (most notably Citizen Kane), the image captures the shadowy gravity of John Seitz's camerawork while retaining a look that still has the feel of film, and it's a first-class piece of work. The original monophonic audio track has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, and it sounds quite good considering the vintage without suggesting that any unnecessary work as been done on it. Along with the original English language soundtrack, viewers can access a dubbed Spanish soundtrack as well as optional subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Two commentary tracks have been included with this release -- one from critic and historian Richard Schickel, who offers a lively analysis of the film, and another featuring writer Lem Dobbs and historian Nick Redman, whose chat is more anecdotal though no less interesting. Other bonus materials are Double Indemnity's original theatrical trailer, an introduction from Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, and Shadows of Suspense, a short documentary on film noir and how James M. Cain's novella was brought to the screen. In Shadows of Suspense, a friend of Barbara Stanwyck recalls watching a 1973 made-for-TV remake of Double Indemnity with her, and after the broadcast Billy Wilder called her and said simply, "Missy, they didn't get it right." The accuracy of Wilder's assessment is borne out on the set's second disc, which features the little seen "Movie of the Week" adaptation; transferred in it's original full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio and with monophonic audio mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, it looks and sounds as good as any cut-rate TV movie of the era is likely to, and optional English and French subtitles have been added for good measure, though it's still a pale shadow of the classic original. Still, fans of Double Indemnity will get a chuckle out of it, and it certainly adds to the thoroughness of this splendid package.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Original theatrical trailers for "Double Agent 73" and "Deadly Weapons"
  • Archival short subject: Tempest Storm's bosom gets plastered in "The Big, Big Bust"
  • Doris Wishman gallery of exploitation art

Synopsis

Double Agent 73
The phrase "booby trapped" gains a whole new meaning in this bizarre blend of sexploitation and espionage, starring the freakishly proportioned Chesty Morgan and written and directed by Doris Wishman. Jane (Chesty Morgan) is a spy working with American intelligence who is ordered to cut short her vacation for a special assignment. An international drug cartel has been smuggling massive amounts of cheap heroin into the United States, and Jane's superiors want the dope men out of commission. Jane is given a list of culprits who are to be tracked down and killed; however, the agency needs evidence that the drug ring has been shut down, so they have devised an unusual plan. A new type of spy camera has been surgically installed in Jane's left breast, which is possible given her remarkable 73-inch bust measurement. After each member of the drug gang has been dispatched, Jane is to take a picture of him using the special camera. However, Jane is working under a rather severe deadline -- if she doesn't finish the job and return to the base within a week, a bomb planted inside the camera will explode, killing Jane and those around her. Double Agent 73 was the second and final collaboration between Chesty Morgan and Doris Wishman; Morgan would shoot a small role in Il Casanova di Fellini before dropping out of movies, while Wishman would remain active in filmmaking up until her death in 2002. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Chesty Morgan
  • Image coming soon
    Saul Meth
  • Image coming soon
    Bill Harris
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.