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FlirtationsRhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction$
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Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Barbara Natalie Nagel, and Lauren Shizuko Stone

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264896

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.001.0001

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Barely Covered Banter

Barely Covered Banter

Flirtation In Double Indemnity

(p.13) Interlude: Barely Covered Banter

Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on Billy Wilder's classic noir film Double Indemnity (1944). The protagonist, Walter Neff, is an insurance salesman who makes a routine stop at a client's home in the hope of persuading him to renew his lapsed auto insurance. The client, Mr. Diedrichsen, was not home, but just before the maid can succeed in turning Neff away, Mrs. Diedrichsen (Phyllis) appears and rather boldly takes over the conversation. Double Indemnity introduces different filmic techniques of flirtation that are embraced by highly erotic double entendres. It shows that conversation, indeed language itself, comes to look (or sound) rather different when grasped from the perspective of flirtation instead of that of marriage. It presents an extreme instance of flirtation: consummated not in sex but in death, the eventual murder of Mr. Diedrichsen committed jointly by Neff and Phyllis.

Keywords:   Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity, double entendres, flirtation, language, marriage

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