Writers in Hollywood: Cain, Chandler, Wilder & Double Indemnity

Saturday 20 November, 2pm



One of Hollywood’s enduring features has been the importance of screenwriters who in the 1940s were salaried generously and housed in writers’ rooms in the studios. Most successful films were based on a proven ‘property’ such as a hit novel, a newspaper headline or the life of an historical figure etc. – but a script still had to be written.

We’ll explore what this meant in practice in a case study of a classic film, Double Indemnity (US 1944). Paramount hired Raymond Chandler, who was beginning to be celebrated for his novels The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, to work with Billy Wilder in adapting James M. Cain’s notorious novella Double Indemnity. But director Wilder was an experienced screenwriter himself, why did he need Chandler? What was ‘wrong’ with Cain’s writing?

Our Zoom Event will focus on the adaptation process and study the narrative structure, the characterisation and, crucially, the dialogue of the film.

Detailed notes and a short video presentation on ‘Raymond Chandler in Hollywood’ will be available as preparation for the event on Saturday 20 November at 2 pm.

Double Indemnity is available to stream or download rent/buy from Amazon, Apple, Sky and many other streamers. Check out justwatch.com