Double Indemnity (1944) Script

[Traffic light dings]

[Truck honking]

[Tires screeching]



Why, hello there, Mr. Neff.

Working pretty late, aren't you, Mr. Neff? Late enough. Let's ride.

You look kind of all in, at that. I'm fine.

How is the insurance business, Mr. Neff? Okay.

They wouldn't ever sell me any.

They said I have something loose in my heart.


I say it's rheumatism. Yeah?





[Buzzing stops]

Office memorandum.

Walter Neff to Barton Keyes, Claims Manager.

Los Angeles, July 16, 1938.

Dear Keyes...

I suppose you'll call this a confession when you hear it.

Well, I don't like the word confession.

I just want to set you right about something you couldn't see... because it was smack up against your nose.

You think you're such a hot potato as a Claims Manager... such a wolf on a phony claim.

Maybe you are, but let's take a look at that Dietrichson claim.

Accident and double indemnity.

You were pretty good in there for a while, Keyes.

You said it wasn't an accident. Check.

You said it wasn't suicide. Check.

You said it was murder. Check.

You thought you had it cold, didn't you?

All wrapped up in tissue paper, with pink ribbons around it.

It was perfect.

Except it wasn't, because you made one mistake... just one little mistake.

When it came to picking the killer, you picked the wrong guy.

You want to know who killed Dietrichson?

Hold tight to that cheap cigar of yours, Keyes.

I killed Dietrichson.

Me, Walter Neff, insurance salesman.

35 years old, unmarried, no visible scars...

until a while ago, that is.

Yes, I killed him.

I killed him for money... and for a woman.

And I didn't get the money and I didn't get the woman.

Pretty, isn't it?


[Buzzing stops]

It all began last May.

Around the end of May, it was.

I'd been out to Glendale to deliver a policy on some dairy trucks.

On the way back I remembered this auto renewal near Los Feliz Boulevard.

So I drove over there.

It was one of those California Spanish houses... everyone was nuts about 10 or 15 years ago.

This one must've cost somebody about $30,000.

That is, if he ever finished paying for it.

[Doorbell ringing]

Is Mr. Dietrichson in?

Who wants to see him? My name is Neff. Walter Neff.

If you're selling something... Look, it's Mr. Dietrichson I want to talk to... and it's not magazine subscriptions.

Listen, Mr. Dietrichson is not in. How soon do you expect him?

He'll be home when he gets here, if that's any help to you.

(Phyllis) What is it, Nettie? Who is it?

It's for Mr. Dietrichson.

I'm Mrs. Dietrichson. What is it?

How do you do, Mrs. Dietrichson?

I'm Walter Neff, Pacific All Risk.

Pacific all what? The Pacific All Risk Insurance Company.

It's about some renewals on the automobiles.

I've been trying to contact your husband for the past two weeks... but he's never in his office. Is there anything I can do?

The insurance ran out on the 15th.

I'd hate to think of your having a smashed fender... or something while you're not... fully covered.

Perhaps I know what you mean, Mr. Neff.

I've just been taking a sunbath. No pigeons around, I hope.

About those policies, Mrs. Dietrichson, I hate to take up your time, but...

Oh, that's all right.

If you'll wait till I put something on, I'll be right down.

Nettie, show Mr. Neff into the living room.

Where would the living room be?

In there, but they keep the liquor locked up.

It's all right. I always carry my own keys.

(Walter) The living room was still stuffy... from last night's cigars.

The windows were closed... and the sunshine coming in through the venetian blinds... showed up the dust in the air.

On the piano, in a couple of fancy frames, were Mr. Dietrichson and Lola... his daughter by his first wife.

They had a bowl of those little red goldfish... on the table behind the big davenport.

But to tell you the truth, Keyes...

I wasn't a whole lot interested in goldfish right then.

Or in auto renewals, or in Mr. Dietrichson and his daughter Lola.

I was thinking about that dame upstairs, and the way she had looked at me... and I wanted to see her again, close... without that silly staircase between us.

I wasn't long, was I? (Walter) Not at all, Mrs. Dietrichson.

Hope I've got my face on straight. It's perfect, for my money.

Neff is the name, isn't it? Yeah.

With two "F's," like in Philadelphia, if you know the story.

What story? The Philadelphia Story.

Suppose we sit down and you tell me about the insurance.

My husband never tells me anything.

Well, it's on your two cars, the LaSalle and the Plymouth.

We've been handling this insurance for Mr. Dietrichson for three years... and we'd hate to see the policies lapse.

That's a honey of an anklet you're wearing, Mrs. Dietrichson.

As I was saying, we'd hate to see the policies lapse.

Of course, we give them 30 days. That's all we're allowed to give.

I guess he's been too busy down at Long Beach in the oil fields.

Couldn't I catch him at home some evening for a few minutes?

I suppose so. But he's never home much before 8:00.

That's fine with me.

You're not connected with the Automobile Club, are you?

No, the All Risk, Mrs. Dietrichson. Why?

Somebody from the Automobile Club has been trying to get him.

Do they have a better rate? If your husband's a member.

No, he isn't.

Well, then he'd have to join the club and pay the membership fee to start with.

I never knock the other fellow's merchandise, Mrs. Dietrichson.

The Automobile Club's fine. I can do just as well for you, though.

I have a very attractive policy here.

It wouldn't take me two minutes to put it in front of your husband.

For instance, we're writing a new kind of 50% retention feature... in the collision coverage.

You're a smart insurance man, aren't you, Mr. Neff?

Well, I've been at it 11 years. Doing pretty well?

It's a living.

You handle just automobile insurance, or all kinds?

All kinds. Fire, earthquake, theft, public liability, group insurance... industrial stuff and so on, right down the line.

Accident insurance?

Accident insurance? Sure, Mrs. Dietrichson.


Wish you'd tell me what's engraved on that anklet.

Just my name. As, for instance?

Phyllis. Phyllis, huh?

I think I like that. But you're not sure?

I'd have to drive it around the block a couple of times.

Mr. Neff, why don't you drop by tomorrow evening around 8:30?

He'll be in then. Who?

My husband. You were anxious to talk to him, weren't you?

Yeah, I was, but I'm sort of getting over the idea... if you know what I mean.

There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. 45 miles an hour.

How fast was I going, officer? I'd say around 90.

Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.

Suppose it doesn't take.

Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.

Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.

Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.

That tears it.

8:30 tomorrow evening then. That's what I suggested.

Will you be here, too? I guess so, I usually am.

Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?

I wonder if I know what you mean.

I wonder if you wonder.

(Walter) It was a hot afternoon and I can still remember... the smell of honeysuckle all along that street.

How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?

Maybe you would have known, Keyes... the minute she mentioned accident insurance, but I didn't.

I felt like a million.

I went back to the office to see if I had any mail.

It was the day you had that truck driver from Inglewood on the carpet.

Remember, Keyes?

Mr. Neff, Mr. Keyes wants to see you.

He's been yelling for you all afternoon.

Is he sore, or just frothing at the mouth a little?

Park this for me, will you, sweetheart?

Hello, Walter. Hi, George.

Come on. Come on, Garlopis.

You're not kidding anybody with that line of bull.

You're in a jam and you know it. Says you.

All I want is my money. Says you.

All you're gonna get is the cops. Hello, Walter.

This is Sam Garlopis from Inglewood. Sure, I know Mr. Garlopis.

Wrote a policy on his truck. How are you, Mr. Garlopis?

I ain't so good. My truck burned down. Yeah. Now look, Garlopis.

Every month hundreds of claims come to this desk.

Some of them are phonies, and I know which ones.

How do I know? Because my little man tells me.

What little man? The little man in here.

Every time one of these phonies comes along, it ties knots in my stomach.

I can't eat.

Yours is one of them, Garlopis. That's how I knew your claim was crooked.

So what did I do?

I sent a tow car over to your garage this afternoon... and they jacked up that burned-out truck of yours.

And what did they find?

They found what was left of a neat pile of shavings.

What shavings?

The ones you soaked with kerosene and dropped a match on.

Look, Mister, I'm just a poor guy. Maybe I made a mistake.

That's one way of putting it.

I ain't feeling so good, Mr. Keyes.

Here. Just a minute. Sign this and you'll feel fine.

Sign what? It's a waiver on your claim. Right here.

Here? Here.

Now you're an honest man again. Goodbye, Garlopis.

But I ain't got no more truck.

$2,600 is lot of dough where I live.

What's the matter, Garlopis, don't you know how to open the door?

Just put your hand on the knob, turn it to the left.

Now pull it toward you.

That's the boy. Thank you, Mr. Keyes.

What kind of an outfit is this, anyway?

Are we an insurance company, or just a bunch of dimwitted amateurs... to write a policy on a mug like that?

Now, wait a minute, Keyes. I don't rate this beef.

I clipped a note to that Garlopis application... to have him thoroughly investigated... before we accepted the risk. I know you did, Walter.

I'm not beefing at you. It's the company. It's the way they do things.

The way they don't do things!

The way they'll write anything just to get it down on the sales sheet.

And I'm the guy that has to sit here up to my neck in phony claims... so they won't throw more money out the window than they take in at the door.

Okay, turn the record over, let's hear the other side.

Well, I get darn sick of trying to pick up after a gang of fast-talking salesmen... dumb enough to sell life insurance to a guy... who sleeps in the same bed with four rattlesnakes.

Walter, I've had 26 years of this and let me tell you, I'm getting...

Yeah, and you've loved every minute of it, Keyes.

You love it, only you worry about it too darn much, you and your little man.

You're so darn conscientious, you're driving yourself crazy.

You wouldn't even say today is Tuesday unless you looked at the calendar.

Then you'd check to see if it was this year's or last year's calendar.

Then you'd find out who printed the calendar... and find out if their calendar checked with the World Almanac's calendar.

Now, that's enough from you, Walter.

Now, get out of here before I throw my desk at you.

[Flicking match]

I love you, too.

(Walter) I really did, too, you old crab... always yelling your head off, always sore at everybody.

But you never fooled me with your song and dance. Not for a second.

I kind of always knew that behind the cigar ashes on your vest... you had a heart as big as a house.

Back in my office there was a phone message from Mrs. Dietrichson... about the renewals.

She didn't want me to come tomorrow evening.

She wanted me to come Thursday afternoon at 3:30 instead.

I had a lot of stuff lined up for that Thursday afternoon... including a trip down to Santa Monica... to see a couple of live prospects about some group insurance.

But I kept thinking about Phyllis Dietrichson... and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg.

Hello, Mr. Neff. Aren't you coming in?

I'm considering it.

I hope you didn't mind my changing the appointment.

Last night wasn't so convenient. That's all right.

I was working on my stamp collection anyway.

I was just fixing some iced tea. Would you like a glass?

Yeah, unless you've got a bottle of beer that's not working.

There may be some. I never know what's in the icebox.


About those renewals, Mr. Neff. I talked to my husband about it.

Oh, you did? Yes. He'll renew with you, he told me so.

As a matter of fact, I thought he'd be here this afternoon.

But he's not? No.


That's terrible.


Oh, I forgot, today's the maid's day off.

Never mind the beer. Iced tea will be fine.

Lemon? Sugar? Fix it your way.

As long as it's the maid's day off, maybe there's something I can do for you.

Like running the vacuum cleaner. Fresh.

I used to peddle vacuum cleaners.

Not much money, but you learn a lot about life.

I didn't think you'd learned it from a correspondence course.

Where'd you pick up this tea drinking?

You're not English, are you? No. Californian.

Born right here in Los Angeles.

They say all native Californians come from Iowa.

Mr. Neff, I... Make it Walter, huh?

Walter. That's right.

Tell me, Walter, on this insurance, how much commission do you make?

Twenty percent. Why?

I thought perhaps I could throw a little more business your way.

I can always use it. I was thinking about my husband.

I worry a lot about him down in those oil fields.

It's very dangerous. Not for an executive, is it?

He doesn't just sit behind a desk.

He's right down there with those drilling crews.

It's got me worried sick.

You mean, some dark night a crown block might fall on him?

Please don't talk like that. But that's the idea.

The other day a casing line snapped and caught the foreman.

He's in the hospital with a broken back. That's bad.

It's got me jittery just thinking about it.

Suppose something like that happened to my husband.

It could. Well... don't you think he ought to have accident insurance? Mmm-hmm.

What kind of insurance could he have?

Enough to cover doctors and hospital bills.

Say $125 a week cash benefit.

And he'd rate around $50,000 capital sum.

Capital sum? What's that? In case he gets killed.

Maybe I shouldn't have said that.

I suppose you have to think of everything in your business.

Well, your husband would understand.

I'm sure I could sell him on the idea of some accident protection.

Why don't I talk to him about it?

You could try, but he's pretty tough-going.

They're all tough at first.

He has a lot on his mind.

He doesn't seem to want to listen to anything... except maybe a baseball game on the radio.

Sometimes we sit here all evening and never say a word to each other.

(Walter) Sounds pretty dull. So, I just sit and knit.

Is that what you married him for?

Maybe I like the way his thumbs hold up the wool.

Anytime his thumbs get tired...

Only, with me around, you wouldn't have to knit.

Wouldn't I? You bet your life, you wouldn't.

Wonder if a little rum would get this up on its feet.

I want to ask you something, Walter.

Could I get an accident policy for him without bothering him at all?

How's that, again?

It would make it easier for you, too. You wouldn't even have to talk to him.

I have a little allowance of my own.

I could pay for it and he needn't know anything about it.

Why shouldn't he know?

Because he doesn't want accident insurance.

He's superstitious about it. A lot of people are. That's funny, isn't it?

If there was a way to get it like that, all the worry would be over.

See what I mean, Walter? Sure. I got good eyesight.

You mean you want him to have the policy without him knowing it.

And that means without the insurance company knowing that he doesn't know it.

That's the setup, isn't it? Is there anything wrong with it?

No, I think it's lovely.

Then, if some dark, wet night, that crown block did fall on him...

What crown block?

Only sometimes it can't quite make it on its own, it has to have a little help.

I don't know what you're talking about.

Of course, it doesn't have to be a crown block.

It can be a car backing over him, or he could fall out of the upstairs window.

Any little thing like that, just so it's a morgue job.

Are you crazy? Not that crazy.

Goodbye, Mrs. Dietrichson. What's the matter?

Look, baby, you can't get away with it.

You want to knock him off, don't you?

That's a horrible thing to say.

What'd you think I was, anyway?

A guy that walks into a good looking dame's front parlor and says:

"Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands.

"You got one that's been around too long?

"One you'd like to turn into a little hard cash?

"Just give me a smile and I'll help you collect. "

Boy, what a dope you must think I am. I think you're rotten.

I think you're swell, so long as I'm not your husband.

Get out of here. You bet I'll get out of here, baby.

I'll get out of here, but quick.

(Walter) So I let her have it straight between the eyes.

She didn't fool me for a minute, not this time.

I knew I had hold of a red-hot poker... and the time to drop it was before it burned my hand off.

I stopped at a drive-in for a bottle of beer, the one I had wanted all along... only I wanted it worse now, to get rid of the sour taste of her iced tea... and everything that went with it.

I didn't want to go back to the office so I dropped by a bowling alley... at Third and Western and rolled a few lines... to get my mind thinking about something else for a while.

I didn't feel like eating dinner when I left, and I didn't feel like a show.

So, I drove home, put the car away and went up to my apartment.

It had begun to rain outside and I watched it get dark... and didn't even turn on the light.

That didn't help me either.

I was all twisted up inside... and I was still holding on to that red-hot poker.

And right then it came over me that I hadn't walked out on anything at all.

That the hook was too strong... that this wasn't the end between her and me.

It was only the beginning.

[Doorbell ringing]

So at 8:00 the bell would ring and I'd know who it was without even having to think.

As if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Hello. You forgot your hat this afternoon.

Did I? Don't you want me to bring it in?


Put it on the chair.

How'd you know where I live? It's in the phone book.

It's raining. Yeah.

Peel off your coat and sit down.

Your husband out?

Yes. Long Beach. They're spudding in a new well.

He phoned he'd be late. About 9:30.

It's about time you said you were glad to see me.

I knew you wouldn't leave it like that.

Like what? Like it was this afternoon.

I must have said something that gave you a terribly wrong impression.

You must never think anything like that about me, Walter.

Okay. No, it's not okay.

Not if you don't believe me. What do you want me to do?

I want you to be nice to me.

Like the first time you came to the house.

It can't be like the first time.

Something's happened. I know it has.

It's happened to us.

I feel as if he was watching me. Not that he cares. Not anymore.

He keeps me on a leash so tight I can't breathe.

He's in Long Beach, isn't he? Relax.

Maybe I oughtn't to have come.

Maybe you oughtn't. You want me to go?

If you want to. Right now?

Sure, right now.

[Walter sighing]

I'm crazy about you, baby. I'm crazy about you, Walter.

That perfume on your hair. What's the name of it?

I don't know. I bought it in Ensenada.

You ought to have some of that pink wine to go with it.

The kind that bubbles. All I got is bourbon.

Bourbon is fine, Walter.

Get a couple of glasses, will you?

Club soda? Plain water, please.

You know, about six months ago a guy slipped on a cake of soap in his bathtub... and knocked himself cold and was drowned.

Only he had accident insurance.

So they had an autopsy and she didn't get away with it.

Who didn't? His wife.

Then there was a case of a guy who was found shot.

His wife said he was cleaning a gun and his stomach got in the way.

All she collected was a three-to-ten stretch in Tehachapi.

Perhaps it was worth it to her.

See if you can carry that as far as the living room.

It's nice here, Walter. Who takes care of it for you?

A colored woman comes in a couple of times a week.

Cook your own breakfast? Squeeze a grapefruit once in a while.

Get the rest down at the corner drugstore. Sounds wonderful.

Just strangers beside you.

You don't know them and you don't hate them.

You don't have to sit across the table... and smile at him and that daughter of his every morning of your life.

What daughter? You mean the little girl on the piano?

Lola. She lives with us.

He thinks a lot more of her than he does of me.

You ever think of a divorce? He wouldn't give me a divorce.

I suppose because it'd cost him too much money.

He hasn't got any money. Not since he went into the oil business.

But he had when you married him?

Yes, he had. And I wanted a home. Why not?

But that's not the only reason. I was his wife's nurse.

She was sick a long time. When she died, he was terribly broken up.

I pitied him so. And now you hate him.

Yes, Walter. He's so mean to me.

Every time I buy a dress or a pair of shoes he yells his head off.

He never lets me go anywhere. He keeps me shut up.

He's always been mean to me.

Even his life insurance all goes to that daughter of his.

That Lola. Nothing for you at all?

No. And nothing is just what I'm worth to him.

So you lie awake in the dark and listen to him snore and get ideas.

Walter, I don't want to kill him. I never did.

Not even when he gets drunk and slaps my face.

Only sometimes you wish he was dead. Perhaps I do.

Then you wish it was an accident, and you had that policy for $50,000.

Is that it? Perhaps that, too.

The other night we drove home from a party. He was drunk again.

When we drove into the garage, he just sat there with his head on the steering wheel... and the motor still running.

And I thought what it would be like if I didn't switch it off... just closed the garage doors and left him there.

I'll tell you what it'd be like.

If you had that accident policy and tried to pull a monoxide job...

We've got a guy in our office named Keyes.

For him a setup like that'd be just like a slice of rare roast beef.

In three minutes he'd know it wasn't an accident.

In 10 minutes you'd be sitting under the hot lights.

In a half-hour you'd be signing your name to a confession.

But, Walter, I didn't do it and I'm not going to do it.

Not if there's an insurance company in the picture, baby.

They know more tricks than a carload of monkeys.

And if there's a death mixed up in it, you haven't got a prayer.

They'll hang you just as sure as ten dimes will buy a dollar.

And I don't want you to hang, baby.

Stop thinking about it, will you?

(Walter) So we just sat there.

She started crying softly, like the rain on the window, and we didn't say anything.

Maybe she had stopped thinking about it, but I hadn't.

I couldn't.

Because it all tied up with something I'd been thinking about for years.

Since long before I ever ran into Phyllis Dietrichson.

Because you know how it is, Keyes.

In this business you can't sleep... for trying to figure out all the tricks they could pull on you.

You're like the guy behind the roulette wheel... watching the customers to make sure they don't crook the house.

And then one night, you get to thinking how you could crook the house yourself.

And do it smart.

Because you've got that wheel right under your hands.

You know every notch in it by heart.

And you figure all you need is a plant out front.

A shill to put down the bet.

And suddenly the doorbell rings... and the whole setup is right there in the room with you.

Look, Keyes, I'm not trying to whitewash myself.

I fought it, only I guess I didn't fight it hard enough.

The stakes were $50,000, but they were the life of a man, too.

A man who'd never done me any dirt, except... he was married to a woman he didn't care anything about.

And I did.

Will you phone me? Walter?

I hate him. I loathe going back to him.

You believe me, don't you, Walter? Sure I believe you.

I can't stand it anymore. What if they did hang me?

They're not going to hang you, baby.

It's better than going on this way.

They're not gonna hang you because... you're gonna do it and I'm gonna help you.

Do you know what you're saying? Sure, I know what I'm saying.

We're gonna do it and we're gonna do it right.

And I'm the guy that knows how. Walter, you're hurting me.

There's not going to be any slip-up. Nothing sloppy. Nothing weak.

It's got to be perfect.

Call me tomorrow. But not from your house. From a booth.

And watch your step every single minute.

This has got to be perfect, you understand? Straight down the line.

Straight down the line.

[Rain pattering]

[Car engine starts]

[Car driving away]

(Walter) That was it, Keyes.

The machinery had started to move and nothing could stop it.

The first thing we had to do was fix him up with that accident policy.

I knew he wouldn't buy, but all I wanted was his signature on an application.

So I had to get him to sign without his knowing what he was signing.

And I wanted another witness besides Phyllis to hear me give him a sales talk.

I was trying to think with your brains, Keyes... because I wanted all the answers ready... for all the questions you were gonna spring as soon as Dietrichson was dead.

A couple of nights later I went to the house.

Everything looked fine, except I didn't like the witness Phyllis had brought in.

It was Dietrichson's daughter, Lola.

And it made me feel a little queer in the belly... to have her sitting right there in the room, playing Chinese checkers... as if nothing were going to happen.

(Walter) I suppose you realize, Mr. Dietrichson... that, not being an employee... you are not covered by the State Compensation Insurance Act.

The only way you can protect yourself is by having a personal policy of your own.

Yeah, I know all about that.

The next thing you'll tell me I need... earthquake insurance and lightning insurance and hail insurance.

If we bought all the insurance they can think up... we'd stay broke paying for it, wouldn't we, honey?

What keeps us broke is you going out and buying five hats at a crack.

Who needs a hat in California?

Dollar for dollar, Mr. Dietrichson... accident insurance is the cheapest coverage you can buy.

Well, maybe some other time, Mr. Neff. I had a tough day.

Just as you say.

Suppose we just settle that automobile insurance tonight.


All we'll need on that is for you to sign the application for renewal.

Phyllis, do you mind if we don't finish this game?

It bores me stiff. Got something better to do?

Yes, I have.

Father, is it all right if I run along now?

Run along where? Who with? Just Anne. We're going roller-skating.

Anne who? Anne Matthews.

It's not that Nino Zachetti again, is it?

It better not be that Zachetti guy.

If I ever catch you with that...

It's Anne Matthews, I told you.

And I also told you we're going roller-skating.

I'm meeting her at the corner of Vermont and Franklin, the northwest corner... in case you're interested, and I'm late already.

I hope that's all quite clear. Good night, Father.

Good night, Phyllis. Good night, Miss Dietrichson.

I'm sorry. Good night, Mr... Neff.

Good night, Mr. Neff.

A great little fighter for her weight.

Now, if you'll just sign these, Mr. Dietrichson.

Sign what? The applications for the auto renewals.

So you'll be covered until the new policies are issued.

When will that be? About a week.

Just so I'm covered when I drive up north.

San Francisco? Palo Alto.

He was a Stanford man, Mr. Neff.

And he still goes to his class reunion every year.

What's wrong with that? Can't I have a little fun, even once a year?

Great football school, Stanford.

Did you play football, Mr. Dietrichson? Left guard.

Almost made the varsity, too. Where do I sign?

The bottom line.

Both copies, please. Sign twice, huh?

Yes. One is the agent's copy.

I need it for my files. Files. Duplicates. Triplicates.

Thank you, Mr. Dietrichson.

Don't worry about the check, I can pick it up at your office some morning.

How much you taking me for? $147.50.

I think that's enough insurance for one evening, Mr. Neff.


Bring me some soda when you come up, Phyllis. Good night, Mr. Neff.

Good night, Mr. Dietrichson.

I think you left your hat in the hall, Mr. Neff.

Good night, Mr. Neff.

All right, Walter? Fine.

He signed it, didn't he? Sure he signed it. You saw him.

Now, listen. That trip to Palo Alto. When does he leave?

End of the month.

He drives, huh? He always drives.

Not this time. You're gonna make him take the train.

Why? Because it's all worked out for a train.

Listen, baby. There's a clause in every accident policy... a little thing called double indemnity.

The insurance companies put it in as a sort of come-on for the customers.

That means they pay double on certain accidents.

The kind that almost never happen.

Like for instance, if a guy is killed on the train... they pay $100,000 instead of $50,000.

I see. We're hitting it for the limit, baby.

That's why it's got to be the train.

It'll be the train, Walter. Just the way you want it.

Straight down the line.

(Lola) Hello, Mr. Neff.

It's me.

Is anything wrong? I've been waiting for you.

For me? Why?

I thought you could let me ride with you, if you're going my way.

Which way would that be? Down the hill. Down Vermont.

Sure. Vermont and Franklin. Northwest corner, wasn't it?

Be glad to, Miss Dietrichson.

Going roller-skating, huh?

You like roller-skating? I can take it or leave it.

Only tonight you're leaving it? Yes, I am.

I'm having a very tough time at home.

My father doesn't understand me and Phyllis hates me.

Sounds tough, all right. That's why I have to lie sometimes.

You mean it's not Vermont and Franklin?

It's Vermont and Franklin all right.

Only it's not Anne Matthews. It's Nino Zachetti.

You won't tell on me, will you?

I'd have to think it over. Nino's not what my father says at all.

He's just had bad luck. He was doing premed at USC... and working nights as an usher in a theater downtown.

Got behind in his credits, flunked out.

Then he lost his job for talking back. He's so hot-headed.

Becomes expensive, doesn't it?

Guess my father thinks nobody's good enough for his daughter... except maybe the guy that owns Standard Oil.

I wish he'd see it my way. I can't give Nino up.

It'll all straighten out, Miss Dietrichson.

I suppose it will sometime. This is the corner right here, Mr. Neff.

(Lola) Nino? Over here, Nino.

This is Mr. Neff, Nino. Hello, Nino.

The name is Zachetti.

Nino, please. Mr. Neff gave me a ride from the house.

I told him all about us.

Why does he have to get told about us?

We don't have to worry about Mr. Neff, Nino.

I'm not doing any worrying.

Just don't you broadcast so much.

Well, what's the matter with you, Nino?

Why, he's a friend. I don't have any friends.

If I did, I like to pick them myself. Come on.

Look, sonny, she needed a ride, so I brought her along.

Is that anything to get tough about?

All right, Lola, make up your mind. Are you coming or aren't you?

Of course I'm coming.

Don't mind him, Mr. Neff. And thanks a lot for the ride.

You're awfully sweet. Nino?

(Walter) She was a nice kid.

Maybe he was a little better than he sounded.

But right then it gave me a nasty feeling to be thinking about them at all... with that briefcase right behind my head that had her father's signature in it... and what that signature meant.

It meant he was a dead pigeon.

It was only a question of time, and not very much time at that.

You know that big market up on Los Feliz, Keyes?

That's the place Phyllis and I had picked for a meeting place.

I already had most of the plan in my head... but a lot of details had to be worked out.

And she had to know them all by heart when the time came.

We had to be very careful from now on.

We couldn't let anybody see us together.

We couldn't even talk to each other on the telephone.

Not from her house or at my office, anyway.

So she was to be in the market every morning about 11:00, buying stuff.

And I could sort of run into her there any day I wanted to.

Sort of accidentally on purpose.

Walter, I wanted to... Not so loud.

I wanted to talk to you, ever since yesterday.

Let me talk first. It's all set.

The accident policy came through. I've got it in my pocket.

I got his check, too. I saw him down in the oil fields.

He thought he was paying for the auto insurance.

The check's just made out to the company, so it could be for anything.

But you have to send a check for the auto insurance, see?

It Open your bag. Quick.

[Cash register bell dinging]

Can you get in the safe-deposit box?

Yes. We both have keys. Fine.

But don't put the policy in there yet. I'll tell you when.

Remember, you never saw it, you never even touched it, you understand?

I'm not a fool. Okay. When is he leaving on the train?

That's just it. He isn't going. What?

That's what I've been trying to tell you. The trip is off.

What happened?

Mister, could you reach me that package of baby food?

That one up there?

I don't know why they always put what I want on the top shelf.

Go ahead. I'm listening.

He had a fall-down at the well. Broke his leg. It's in a cast.

Broke his leg? What do we do now, Walter?

Nothing. We just wait. Wait for what?

Until he can take the train.

I told you it's got to be the train.

But we can't wait. I can't go on like this.

Look, we're not gonna grab a hammer and do it quick, just to get it over with.

There are other ways. We're not gonna do it other ways.

But we can't leave it like this.

What do you suppose would happen if he found out about the accident policy?

Plenty. But not as bad as sitting in that death house.

Don't ever talk like that. Don't let's start losing our heads, that's all.

It's not our heads. It's our nerve we're losing.

[Cash register bell dinging]

Excuse me.

We're gonna do it right. That's all I said.

It's the waiting that's getting me.

It's getting me just as bad, baby.

But we've got to wait. Maybe we have, Walter, only... it's so tough without you. It's like a wall between us.

I better go, baby. I'm thinking of you every minute.

(Walter) After that, a full week went by and I didn't see her once.

I tried to keep my mind off her and off the whole idea.

I kept telling myself that maybe those Fates they say watch over you... had gotten together and broken his leg to give me a way out.

Then it was the 15th of June. You may remember that date, Keyes.

You came into my office around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Hello, Keyes.

I just came from Norton's office.

The semiannual sales records are out.

You're high man, Walter. That's twice in a row. Congratulations.

Thanks. How would you like a cheap drink?

How would you like a $50 cut in salary?

Do I laugh now or wait till it gets funny? No, I'm serious.

I've just been talking to Norton. Too much stuff piling up on my desk.

Too much pressure on my nerves.

I spend half the night walking up and down in my bed.

I've got to have an assistant and I thought of you.

Me? Why pick on me?

Well, because I've got a crazy idea you might be good at the job.

That's crazy, all right. I'm a salesman.

Yeah. A peddler, a gladhander, a backslapper.

You're too good to be a salesman.

Nobody's too good to be a salesman. Phooey!

All you guys do is just ring doorbells and dish out a smooth line of monkey talk.

What's troubling you is that $50 cut, isn't it?

Well, that'd trouble anybody. Now look, Walter.

The job I'm talking about takes brains and integrity.

It takes more guts than there is in 50 salesmen.

It's the hottest job in the business.

Yeah, but it's still a desk job.

I don't want to be nailed to a desk. Desk job?

Is that all you can see in it?

Just a hard chair to park your pants on from 9:00 to 5:00, huh?

Just a pile of papers to shuffle around, and five sharp pencils... and a scratch pad to make figures on, maybe a little doodling on the side.

Well, that's not the way I look at it, Walter.

To me, a claims man is a surgeon, that desk is an operating table... and those pencils are scalpels and bone chisels.

And those papers are not just forms and statistics and claims for compensation.

They're alive. They're packed with drama... with twisted hopes and crooked dreams.

A claims man, Walter, is a doctor and a bloodhound and a...

[telephone ringing]

Who? Okay, hold on a minute.

A claims man is a doctor and a bloodhound and a cop and a judge and a jury... and a father confessor, all in one.

And you want to tell me you're not interested?

You don't want to work with your brains?

All you want to work is with your finger on the doorbell... for a few bucks more a week. There's a dame on your phone.

Walter Neff speaking. I had to call you, Walter.

It's very urgent. Are you with somebody?

Yes, I am. Can't I call you back, Margie?

No, you can't. I've only got a minute. It can't wait.

Listen. He's going tonight. On the train. Are you listening?

Walter? Yeah. I'm listening, Margie.

Only, make it snappy, will you? He's on crutches.

The doctor says he can go if he's careful. The change will do him good.

It's wonderful, Walter. Just the way you wanted it, on a train.

Only with the crutches it makes it much better, doesn't it?

Yeah. Yeah, that's 100% better.

Hold the line a minute, will you?

Keyes, suppose I join you in your office? That's all right. I'll wait.

Only tell her not to take all day.

Go ahead.

It's the 10:15 from Glendale. I'm driving him.

It's still the same dark street, isn't it?

And the signal is three honks on the horn. Okay. Anything else?


Oh, uh... what color did you pick?

Blue. Navy blue. And the cast is on his left leg.


Yeah, that suits me fine.

This is it, Walter. I'm shaking like a leaf.

But it's straight down the line for both of us.

I love you, Walter. Goodbye.

Sorry, Keyes. What's the matter?

Dames chasing you again? Or still? Or is it none of my business?

If I told you it was a customer...

Margie. I bet she drinks from the bottle.

Why don't you settle down and get married, Walter?

Why don't you, for instance? I almost did, once. Long time ago.

Now look, Keyes, I've got to call on a prospect.

Even had the church picked out, the dame and I.

She had a white satin dress with flounces on it.

I was on my way to the jewelry store to buy the ring.

And then suddenly that little man in here started working on me.

So you went back and had her investigated?

Yeah. And the stuff that came out...

She'd been dyeing her hair ever since she was 16.

There was a manic depressive in her family, on her mother's side.

She already had one husband.

He was a professional pool player in Baltimore.

And as for her brother... I get the general idea.

She was a tramp from a long line of tramps. Yeah. All right, all right.

Now what do I say to Norton? What about this job I want you for?

I don't think I want it, Keyes.

Thanks just the same. Fair enough.

Only get this, I picked you for the job... not because I think you're so darn smart... but because I thought you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit.

Guess I was wrong. You're not smarter, Walter.

You're just a little taller.

(Walter) Yes, Keyes.

Those Fates I was talking about had only been stalling me off.

Now they had thrown the switch. The gears had meshed.

The time for thinking had all run out.

I wanted my movements accounted for up to the last possible moment.

So when I left the office I put my rate book on the desk as if I had forgotten it.

That was part of my alibi.

From here on, it was a question of following the timetable... move by move.

I got home about 7:00 and drove right into the garage.

This was another item to establish my alibi.

Hi, Mr. Neff. Hello, Charlie.

How about giving the heap a wash job?

How soon you gonna want it?

I got a couple cars ahead of you.

Any time you get to it, Charlie.

I'm staying in tonight. Okay.

(Walter) Up in my apartment I called Lou Schwartz... one of the salesmen that shared my office.

He lived in Westwood, so it was a toll call and there'd be a record of it.

I told him I'd forgotten my rate book and needed some dope... on the public liability bond I was figuring.

I changed into a navy blue suit like Dietrichson was going to wear.

Lou Schwartz called me back and gave me a lot of figures.

I stuffed a hand towel and a roll of adhesive into my pockets... so I could fake something that looked like a cast on a broken leg.

Next, I stuck a card inside the telephone box... so that it would fall down if the bell rang.

That way I'd know if anybody had called me while I was away.

Then I did the same thing to the doorbell in case anybody came to see me.

I left the apartment by the service stairs. Nobody saw me.

I walked all the way from my apartment to the Dietrichson house.

I didn't want to take the bus... because there was always the chance that someone might remember seeing me on it.

I was being that careful.

I could smell that honeysuckle again.

Only it was even stronger, now that it was night.

I slid the garage door open as quietly as I could.

She'd backed the sedan in, just the way I told her to.

I'd figured it was safer that way... in case he got into the car before she drove it out.

I got into the back of the car.

I lay there on the floor and waited.

All the time I was thinking about that dark street on the way to the station... where I was to do it... and the three honks on the horn that were to be the signal.

About 10 minutes later they came down.

All right, honey? Yeah, I'm all right.

I'll have the car out in a second.


Take it easy, honey. We've got lots of time. Yeah.

Remember what the doctor said. If you get careless... you might end up with a shorter leg.

So what? I could break the other one and match them up again.

It makes you feel pretty good to get away from me, doesn't it?

It's only for four days. I'll be back Monday at the latest.

This is not the right street. Why did you turn here?


What are you doing that for?

What are you honking the horn for?

[Dietrichson choking]

[Train horn blowing]

[Bell ringing]

You take care of the redcap and the conductor.

Don't worry. Keep away from me as much as you can.

Tell them I don't want to be helped. I said, don't worry, Walter.

You start as soon as the train leaves.

When you get to the refinery, turn off the highway onto the dirt road.

From there it's exactly eight-tenths of a mile... to the dump beside the tracks. Remember.

I remember everything. No speeding.

You don't want any cops stopping you with him in the back.

Walter, we've been through all that so many times.

When you leave the highway, turn off all your lights.

I'll be back on the observation platform.

I'll drop off as close to the spot as I can.

Let the train pass, then dim your lights twice.

San Francisco train, lady? Car 9, section 11. Just my husband.

Car 9, section 11? This way please.

Thank you. My husband doesn't like to be helped.

Car number 8. Up there.

Car 9, section 11. Thank you.

Here're the tickets. Take good care of yourself with that leg.

Yeah. You take it easy driving home.

I'll miss you, honey. Section 11, sir.

(Porter) All aboard! Thank you.

Goodbye, honey. All aboard!

[Train whistle blowing]

Good luck, honey.

Porter, will you make up my berth right away?

Yes, sir.

I'm going back to the observation car for a smoke.

Right this way, sir.

[Train whistle blowing]

(Jackson) Like a chair?

No, thanks. I'd rather stand.

You going far? Palo Alto.

My name's Jackson.

I'm going all the way to Medford. Medford, Oregon.

I had a broken arm once.

That darn cast itches something fierce, doesn't it?

I thought I'd go crazy with mine.

Palo Alto's a nice little town. You a Stanford man?

I used to be. I'll bet you left something behind.

I always do.

My cigar case. I guess I left it in my overcoat back in the section.

Would you care to roll yourself a cigarette, Mister...


No thanks, I really prefer a cigar.

Maybe the porter could... Well, I could get your cigars for you.

Be glad to, Mr. Dietrichson. If it's not too much trouble.

Car 9, section 11. Car 9, section 11. With pleasure.

Okay. This has gotta be fast.

Here, take his hat. Pick up the crutches back on the tracks.

Okay, baby. That's it.

[Engine faltering]

[Engine choking]

[Engine starting]

All right. Let's go.

(Walter) On the way back, we went over once more... what she was to do at the inquest... if they had one, and about the insurance, when that came up.

I was afraid she might go to pieces a little, now that we had done it.

But she was perfect. No nerves. Not a tear, not even a blink of the eyes.

She dropped me a block from my apartment house.

Walter, what's the matter? Aren't you going to kiss me?

It's straight down the line, isn't it?

I love you, Walter. I love you, baby.

It was two minutes past 11:00, as I went up the service stairs again.

Nobody saw me this time either. In the apartment I checked the bells.

The cards hadn't moved. No calls. No visitors.

Then I changed my clothes again. That left one last thing to do.

I had to go down to the garage. I wanted Charlie to see me again.

You gonna use your car, after all? I'm not quite through.

Well, that's all right, Charlie.

Just going up to the drugstore to get something to eat.

Been working upstairs all night. My stomach's getting a little sore at me.

Yes, sir, Mr. Neff.

That was all there was to it.

Nothing had slipped, nothing had been overlooked.

There was nothing to give us away.

And yet, Keyes, as I was walking down the street to the drugstore... suddenly it came over me that everything would go wrong.

It sounds crazy, Keyes, but it's true, so help me.

I couldn't hear my own footsteps.

It was the walk of a dead man.

That was the longest night I ever lived through, Keyes... and the next day was worse, when the story had broke in the papers... and they started talking about it at the office... and the day after that, when you started digging into it.

I kept my hands in my pockets because I thought they were shaking.

I put on dark glasses so people couldn't see my eyes.

And then I took them off again so they wouldn't get to wondering why I wore them.

I tried to hold myself together, but...

I could feel my nerves pulling me to pieces.

Oh, Walter? Hello, Keyes.

Come along. The big boss wants to see us.

The Dietrichson case? Must be.

Anything wrong? Well, the guy is dead.

We had him insured and it's gonna cost us dough. That's always wrong.

What have they got so far? Autopsy report.

No heart failure, no apoplexy, no predisposing medical cause of any kind.

Died of a broken neck.

When's the inquest? Had it this morning.

His wife and daughter made the identification.

The train people and some of the passengers told how he went through... to the observation car.

It was all over in 45 minutes. Verdict? Accidental death.

What do the police figure?

That he got tangled up in his crutches and fell off the train.

They're satisfied.

It's not their dough. Come on, Walter.

(Norton) All right. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

I believe the legal position is now clear.

Please stand by. I may need you later.

Come in, Mr. Keyes. You, too, Mr. Neff.

You find this an uncomfortably warm day, Mr. Keyes?

I'm sorry, Mr. Norton, but I didn't know this was formal.

Sit down, gentlemen. Thank you.

Any new developments?

I just talked to this Jackson long distance, up in Medford, Oregon.

Who's Jackson?

He's the last man who saw Dietrichson alive.

They were out on the observation platform together, talking.

Dietrichson wanted a cigar and so Jackson went back... to get Dietrichson's cigar case for him.

When he returned to the observation platform, no Dietrichson.

Well, Jackson didn't think anything was wrong until... a wire caught up with the train at Santa Barbara.

They found Dietrichson's body on the tracks near Burbank.

Very interesting about the cigar case.

Anything else? No, not much.

Dietrichson's secretary says she didn't know anything about the policy.

There's a daughter, but all she remembers is Neff talking to her father... about accident insurance at their house one night.

I couldn't sell him at first.

Mr. Dietrichson opposed it. He said he'd think it over.

Later I saw him in the oil fields and closed him.

He signed the application and gave me his check.

A fine piece of salesmanship that was, Mr. Neff.

Well, there's no sense in pushing Neff around.

He's got the best sales record in the office.

Are your salesmen supposed to know a customer is going to fall off the train?

Fall off a train? Are we sure Dietrichson fell off the train?

I don't get it. You don't, Mr. Keyes?

Then what do you think of this case?

This policy might cost us a great deal of money.

As you know, it contains a double indemnity clause.

Just what is your opinion?

No opinion at all. Not even a hunch?

One of those interesting little hunches of yours?

Nope. Not even a hunch.

I'm surprised, Mr. Keyes. I've formed a very definite opinion.

I think I know. In fact, I know I know what happened to Dietrichson.

You know you know what? I know it was not an accident.

What do you say to that? Me?

Well, you've got the ball. Let's see you run with it.

There's a widespread feeling that just because a man has a large office...

[intercom buzzing]

Yes? Have her come in, please.

There's a widespread feeling that... just because a man has a large office, he must be an idiot.

I'm having a visitor, if you don't mind.

No, no. I want you to stay and watch me handle this.

Mrs. Dietrichson.

Thank you very much for coming, Mrs. Dietrichson.

I assure you I appreciate it. This is Mr. Keyes.

How do you do? How do you do?

And Mr. Neff. I've met Mr. Neff. How do you do?

Mrs. Dietrichson. Won't you sit down?

(Norton) May I extend our sympathy in your bereavement?

I hesitated before asking you to come here so soon after your loss.

But now that you're here I hope you won't mind if I plunge straight into business?

You know why we asked you to come, don't you?

No. All I know is that your secretary made it sound very urgent.

Your husband had an accident policy with this company.

Evidently you don't know that, Mrs. Dietrichson.

No. I remember some talk at the house, but he didn't seem to want it.

Your husband took the policy out a few days later, Mrs. Dietrichson.

You'll probably find the policy among his personal effects.

His safe-deposit box hasn't been opened yet.

It seems a tax examiner has to be present.

Please, Mrs. Dietrichson, I don't want you to think... you're being subjected to any questioning... but there are a few things we should like to know.

What sort of things?

We have the report of the coroner's inquest.

Accidental death. We are not entirely satisfied.

In fact, we are not satisfied at all.

Frankly, Mrs. Dietrichson, we suspect... a suicide.

I'm sorry. Would you like a glass of water? Please.

Thank you.

Had your husband been depressed or moody lately, Mrs. Dietrichson?

Did he have financial worries, for instance?

He was perfectly all right and I don't know of any financial worries.

Let us examine this so-called accident.

First, your husband takes out this policy in absolute secrecy. Why?

Because he doesn't want his family to suspect what he intends to do.

Do what? Next, he goes on this trip entirely alone.

He has to be alone. He hobbles all the way out to the observation platform.

Very unlikely with his leg in a cast, unless he has a very strong reason.

Once there, he finds he is not alone. There is a man there.

What was his name, Keyes? His name was Jackson. Probably still is.

So he gets rid of this Jackson with some flimsy excuse about cigars.

And then he is alone. And then he does it. Does what?

He jumps. Suicide. In which case, the company is not liable.

You know that, of course. Now, we could go to court...

I don't know anything. In fact, I don't know why I came here.

Just a moment, please. I said we could go to court. I didn't say we want to.

What I want to suggest is a compromise on both sides.

A settlement for a certain sum, a part of the policy value.

Don't bother, Mr. Norton. When I came in here, I had no idea you owed me any money.

You told me you did. Then you told me you didn't.

Now you tell me you want to pay me a part of it, whatever it is.

You want to bargain with me, at a time like this.

I don't like your insinuations about my husband, and I don't like your methods.

In fact, I don't like you, Mr. Norton. Goodbye, gentlemen.

[Door slamming]

(Keyes) Nice going, Mr. Norton. You sure carried that ball.

Only you fumbled on the goal line.

Then you heaved an illegal forward pass and got thrown for a 40-yard loss.

Now you can't pick yourself up because you haven't got a leg to stand on.

I haven't, eh? She can go to court and we can prove it was suicide.

Oh, can we?

Mr. Norton, the first thing that struck me was that suicide angle.

Only I dumped it into the wastepaper basket just three seconds later.

You know, you ought to take a look at the statistics on suicide sometime.

You might learn a little something about the insurance business.

Mr. Keyes, I was raised in the insurance business.

Yeah, in the front office.

Come now, you've never read an actuarial table in your life, have you?

Why, they've got 10 volumes on suicide alone.

Suicide by race, by color, by occupation... by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day.

Suicide, how committed? By poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps.

Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison... such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic... alkaloid, protein, and so forth.

Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places... under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks... under the feet of horses, from steamboats. But, Mr. Norton... of all the cases on record there's not one single case of suicide by leap... from the rear end of a moving train.

And do you know how fast that train was going... at the point where the body was found? 15 miles an hour.

Now how can anybody jump off a slow moving train like that... with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself?

No. No soap, Mr. Norton.

We're sunk, and we'll have to pay through the nose, and you know it.

May I have this?

Come on, Walter.

Next time I'll rent a tuxedo.

(Walter) I could have hugged you right then and there, Keyes... you and your statistics.

You were the only one we were really scared of... and instead you were almost playing on our team.

That evening when I got home, my nerves had eased off.

I could feel the ground under my feet again.

And it looked like easy going from there on in.

That $100,000 looked as safe for Phyllis and me... as if we had the check already deposited in the bank.

[Phone ringing]

Hello? Oh, hello, baby. Sure, everything is fine.

You were wonderful in Norton's office.

I felt so funny, I wanted to look at you all the time.

How do you think I felt, baby? Where are you?

At the drugstore. Just a block away.

Can I come up? Okay. But be careful.

Don't let anybody see you.

[Doorbell ringing]

Hello, Keyes.

What's on your mind? That broken leg.

The guy had a broken leg. What are you talking about?

Talking about Dietrichson. He had accident insurance, didn't he?

Yeah. Then he broke his leg, didn't he?

So what? And he didn't put in a claim.

Why didn't he put in a claim? Why? What are you driving at?

Walter, I had dinner two hours ago and it stuck half way.

That little man of yours is acting up again, huh?

There's something wrong with the Dietrichson case.

Why? Because he didn't file a claim? Maybe he just didn't have time.

Maybe he just didn't know that he was insured.

No. No, that couldn't be it.

You delivered the policy to him personally, didn't you?

Yeah. You got his check?

Sure I did.

Got any bicarbonate of soda? No, I haven't.

Walter, I've been living with this little man for 26 years.

And he's never failed me yet. There's got to be something wrong.

Well, maybe Norton was right. Maybe it was suicide.

No. Not suicide.

But not an accident, either. What else?

Now look, Walter.

A guy takes out an accident policy that's worth $100,000... if he's killed on a train.

Then two weeks later, he is killed on a train.

And not in a train accident, mind you, but falling off some silly observation car.

Do you know what the mathematical probability of that is?

One out of I don't know how many billions.

And add to that the broken leg. No, it just can't be the way it looks.

Something has been worked on us. Such as what?


Don't you have any peppermint or something?

Sorry. Want a little soda water? No, no, no.

(Walter) Who do you suspect?

(Keyes) Maybe I like to make things easy for myself.

But I always tend to suspect the beneficiary.

You mean the wife? Yeah.

That wide-eyed dame that just didn't know anything about anything.

You're crazy, Keyes. She wasn't even on the train.

I know she wasn't, Walter.

I don't claim to know how it was worked, or who worked it... but all I know is that it was worked.

I've got to get to a drugstore.

This thing feels like a hunk of concrete inside me.

Good night, Walter. Good night, Keyes.

See you at the office in the morning. Yeah.

I'd like to move in on her right now, tonight.

If it wasn't for Norton and his striped-pants ideas about company policy...

I'd have the police after her so fast it'd make her head spin.

They'd put her through the wringer... and, brother, the things they would squeeze out.

Only you haven't got a single thing to go on, Keyes.

Not too much. Just 26 years experience... all the percentage there is, and this hunk of concrete in my stomach.

Can I have one of those things?

Good night, Keyes. So long, Walter.

[Elevator door shuts]

How much does he know? He doesn't know anything.

It's those stinking hunches of his.

And he can't prove anything, can he?

Not if we're careful. Not if we don't see each other for a while.

How long a while? Until this dies down.

You don't know Keyes.

Once he gets his teeth into something, he never lets go.

He'll investigate you, have you shadowed.

He'll watch you every minute from now on.

You afraid, baby? Yes, I'm afraid.

But not of Keyes. I'm afraid of us. We're not the same anymore.

We did it so we could be together, but instead of that it's pulling us apart.

Isn't it, Walter? What are you talking about?

And you don't really care whether we see each other or not.

Shut up, baby.

(operator) Pacific All Risk. Good afternoon.

Hello, Mr. Neff.

Hello. Lola Dietrichson.

Don't you remember me? Yes. Yes, of course.

Could I talk with you just a few minutes?

Somewhere where we could be alone?

Oh, yes. Come into my office.

Is it something about what happened?

Yes, Mr. Neff. It's about my father's death.

I'm terribly sorry, Miss Dietrichson.

Lou, do you mind if I use the office alone for a few minutes?

No. It's all yours, Walter.

Look at me, Mr. Neff.

I'm not crazy. I'm not hysterical. I'm not even crying.

But I have the awful feeling that something is wrong... and I had that same feeling once before, when my mother died.

When your mother died?

We were at Lake Arrowhead. That was six years ago.

We had a cabin there.

It was winter and very cold. My mother was very sick with pneumonia.

She had a nurse with her.

There were just the three of us in the cabin.

One night I got up and went into my mother's room.

She was delirious with fever.

All the bed covers were on the floor and the windows were wide open.

The nurse wasn't in the room.

I ran and covered my mother up as quickly as I could.

Just then I heard a door open behind me.

The nurse stood there.

She didn't say a word, but there was a look in her eyes...

I'll never forget.

Two days later, my mother was dead.

Do you know who that nurse was?

No. Who? Phyllis.

I tried to tell my father, but I was just a kid then.

He wouldn't listen to me. Six months later she married him... and I kind of talked myself out of the idea she could have done anything like that.

But now it's all back again, now that something's happened to my father, too.

You're not making sense, Miss Dietrichson. Your father fell off a train.

Yes, and two days before he fell off that train, what was Phyllis doing?

She was in her room in front of a mirror, with a black hat on... pinning a black veil to it.

As if she couldn't wait to see how she would look in mourning.

You've had a pretty bad shock, Miss Dietrichson.

Aren't you just imagining these things?

I caught her eyes in the mirror.

They had that look in them they had before my mother died.

That same look.

You don't like your stepmother, do you?

Isn't it just because she is your stepmother?

I loathe her because she did it. She did it for the money.

Only you're not going to pay her, are you, Mr. Neff?

She's not going to get away with it this time, because I'm going to speak up.

I'm going to tell everything I know.

You'd better be careful, saying things like... I'm not afraid. You'll see.


I'm sorry.

I didn't mean to act like this.

All this that you've been telling me, who else have you told?

No one.

How about your stepmother? Of course not.

I've moved out.

I'm not living at home anymore.

And you haven't told that boyfriend of yours? Zachetti?

I'm not seeing him anymore. We had a fight.

Where are you living now?

I got myself a little apartment in Hollywood.

Four walls, and you just sit and look at them?

Yes, Mr. Neff.

(Walter) So that evening I took her to dinner... at a Mexican restaurant down on Olvera Street where nobody would see us.

I wanted to cheer her up.

The next day was Sunday and we went for a ride down to the beach.

She had loosened up a bit, she was even laughing.

I had to make sure that she wouldn't tell that stuff about Phyllis to anybody else.

It was dynamite, whether it was true or not.

And I had no chance to talk to Phyllis.

You were watching her like a hawk, Keyes.

I couldn't even phone her because I was afraid you had the wires tapped.

Monday morning there was a note on my desk that you wanted to see me, Keyes.

For a minute I wondered if it could be about Lola.

It was worse.

Outside your door was the last guy in the world I wanted to see.

Come in. Come in, Walter.

Hello, Keyes. I want to ask you something.

After all the years we've known each other... do you mind if I make a rather blunt statement?

About what? About me.

Walter, I'm a very great man. Yeah?

This Dietrichson business, it's murder... and murders don't come any neater.

As fancy a piece of homicide as anybody ever ran into... smart, tricky, almost perfect, but...

I think Papa has it all figured out.

Figured out and wrapped up in tissue paper with pink ribbons on it.

Go ahead. I'm listening. You know what?

That guy Dietrichson was never on the train.

He wasn't? No, he wasn't.

Now look, Walter. You can't be sure of killing a man... by throwing him off a train that's going 15 miles an hour.

The only way you can be sure is to kill him first... and then throw his body on the tracks.

Now that would mean either killing him on the train... or, and this is where it really gets fancy, you kill him somewhere else... and put him on the tracks.

Two possibilities, and I personally buy the second.

You're way ahead of me, Keyes.

Well, look, Walter, it was like this.

They killed the guy, the wife and a somebody else... and the somebody else took the crutches and went on the train as Dietrichson... then the somebody else jumped off... then they put the body on the tracks where the train had passed.

An impersonation, see? A cinch to work.

Because it was night, very few people were about... they have the crutches to stare at... they never really looked at the man at all.

Fancy all right, Keyes, but maybe it's a little too fancy.

Is it? I tell you, it all fits together like a watch.

Now let's see what we have in the way of proof.

The only guy who really got a good look at this supposed Dietrichson... is sitting right outside my office.

I took the trouble to bring him down here from Oregon.

Come here, Mr. Jackson. Yes, sir, Mr. Keyes.

These are fine cigars you smoke.

Two for a quarter. That's what I said.

Well, did you study those photographs?

Yes, indeed. I studied them thoroughly.

Very thoroughly. Have you made up your mind?

Mister Keyes, I'm a Medford man. Medford, Oregon.

Up in Medford we take our time making up our mind.

Well, we're not in Medford now. We're in a hurry. Let's have it.

Are these photographs of the late Mr. Dietrichson?


Then my answer is no. What do you mean, no?

I mean, this is not the man that was on the train.

Will you swear to that?

Mr. Keyes, I'm a Medford man. Medford, Oregon.

If I say it, I mean it. If I mean it, of course I'll swear it.

There you are, Walter. There's your proof.

This is Mr. Neff, one of our salesmen.

Pleased to meet you, Mr. Neff. Pleased, indeed.

How are you? Very fine, thank you.

Never was better. Sit down, Mr. Jackson.

Just how would you describe the man you saw on the observation platform?

Well, I'm pretty sure he was a younger man... about 10 or 15 years younger than the man in these photographs.

Dietrichson was about 50, wasn't he, Walter?

Fifty-one, according to the policy.

The man I saw was nothing like 51 years old.

Of course, it was pretty dark out on that platform.

Come to think of it, he tried to keep his back towards me.

But I'm positive just the same. Thank you, Jackson.

Of course, you understand this matter is strictly confidential?

We may need you again down here in Los Angeles, if the case comes to court.

Any time you need me, I'm entirely at your disposal, gentlemen.

Expenses paid, of course. Oh, yes. Yes. Of course.

Get me Lubin, in the cashier's office.

Hello, Lubin. This is Keyes.

Listen. I'm sending a man named Jackson down to you with an expense account.

Well, we brought him down here from Medford, Oregon in connection with... the Dietrichson claim.

Well, take care of his hotel bill, will you?

Ever been in Oregon, Mr. Neff?

(Keyes) Yeah. He'll be right down.

No. Never been up there.

Wait a minute. You go trout fishing?

Maybe I saw you up Klamath Falls way. Nope. I don't fish.

You don't go fishing, Mr. Neff. Neff. It's the name.

There's a family of Neffs in Corvallis. No relation.

Let me see. This man's an automobile dealer in Corvallis.

A very reputable man, too, I'm told. All right, Mr. Jackson.

Suppose you go down to the cashier's office.

Room 27 on the 11th floor.

He'll take care of your expense account and your ticket for the train tonight.


Tomorrow morning would suit me better. There's a very good osteopath in town...

I'd like to see before I leave. Osteopath?

Well, just don't put her on the expense account.

Well, goodbye, gentlemen.

It's been a pleasure. Goodbye.

There it is, Walter. It's beginning to come apart at the seams already.

Murder's never perfect. Always comes apart sooner or later.

And when two people are involved, it's usually sooner.

Now, we know the Dietrichson dame is in it, and a somebody else.

Pretty soon we'll know who that somebody else is.

He'll show. He's got to show. Sometime, somewhere, they've got to meet.

Their emotions are all kicked up.

Whether it's love or hate doesn't matter. They can't keep away from each other.

They may think it's twice as safe because there are two of them.

But it isn't twice as safe.

It's 10 times twice as dangerous. They've committed a murder... and it's not like taking a trolley ride together... where they can get off at different stops.

They're stuck with each other and they've got to ride... all the way to the end of the line.

And it's a one-way trip, and the last stop is the cemetery.

She put in her claim.

I'm gonna throw it right back at her.

Let her sue us if she dares.

I'll be ready for her and that somebody else.

They'll be digging their own graves.

Mrs. Dietrichson? This is Jerry's Market.

We just got in a shipment of that English soap you were asking about.

Will you be coming by today? Thank you, Mrs. Dietrichson.

Hello, Walter. Come over here.

What's the matter? Everything's the matter.

Keyes is rejecting your claim.

He's sitting back with his mouth watering, waiting for you to sue.

He wants you to sue, but you're not going to.

What's he got to stop me? He's got plenty.

He's figured out how it was worked.

He knows it was somebody else on the train... and he's dug up a witness he thinks can prove it.

Prove it how? If he rejects that claim, I have to sue.

Yeah? And then you're in court and a lot of other things are going to come up.

Like, for instance, about you and the first Mrs. Dietrichson.

What about me and the first Mrs. Dietrichson?

The way she died.

And about that black hat you were trying on before you needed a black hat.

Lola's been telling you some of her cockeyed stories.

She's been seeing you. I've been seeing her, if you want to know.

So she won't yell her head off about what she knows.

She's putting on an act for you, crying all over your shoulder, the lying...

Keep her out of this. All I'm telling you is we're not going to sue.

Because you don't want the money anymore... even if you could have it, because she's... made you feel like a heel all of a sudden?

It isn't the money anymore. It's our necks. We're pulling out, do you understand?

Because of what Keyes can do? You're not fooling me, Walter.

It's because of Lola, what you did to her father.

You're afraid she might find out someday and you can't take it, can you?

I said, leave her out of this.

It's me I'm talking about.

I don't want to be left out of it. Stop saying that.

It's just that it hasn't worked as we wanted.

We can't go through with it, that's all. We have gone through with it.

The tough part is all behind us.

We just have to hold on now and not go soft inside... stick close together the way we started out.

Watch it.

I loved you, Walter, and I hated him.

But I wasn't going to do anything about it, not until I met you.

You planned the whole thing. I only wanted him dead.

And I'm the one that fixed it so he was dead.

Is that what you're telling me? And nobody's pulling out.

We went into this together, we're coming out at the end together.

It's straight down the line for both of us, remember?

(Walter) Yes, I remembered.

Just like I remembered what you had told me, Keyes... about that trolley car ride... and how there was no getting off till the end of the line...

...where the cemetery was.

And then I got to thinking what cemeteries are for.

They're to put dead people in.

I guess that was the first time I ever thought about Phyllis that way.

Dead, I mean.

And how it would be if she were dead.

I saw Lola three or four times that week.

One night we went up into the hills behind the Hollywood Bowl.

I guess it sounds crazy, Keyes, but it was only with her that...

I could relax and let go a little.

Why are you crying?

Not gonna tell me, huh?

Of course I will, Walter. I wouldn't tell anybody else but you.

It's about Nino. Zachetti? What about him?

They killed my father together. He and Phyllis.

He helped her do it. I know he did.

What makes you say that?

I've been following him. He's been to her house, night after night.

It was Phyllis and him all along.

Maybe he was just going with me as a blind. And the night of the murder...

You promised me you weren't gonna talk like this anymore.

He was supposed to pick me up after a lecture at UCLA.

But he never showed up. He said he was sick.



He couldn't show up, because the train was leaving with my father on it.

Maybe I'm just crazy. Maybe it's all in my mind.

Sure, it's all in your mind.

I only wish it were, Walter, 'cause I still love him.

(Walter) Zachetti. Phyllis and Zachetti.

What was he doing up at her house? I couldn't figure that one out.

I tried to make sense out of it and got nowhere.

But the real braintwister came the next day.

You sprang it on me, Keyes, after office hours, when you caught me... down in the lobby of the building.

Walter. Walter, just a minute.

Hello, Keyes. Just hang on to your hat, Walter.

What for? Oh, nothing much.

That Dietrichson case just busted wide open.

How do you mean? The guy showed. That's how.

What guy? The guy who helped her do it.

The somebody else?

No kidding? Yeah. She just filed suit against us.

It's okay by me.

When we get them in that courtroom, I'll tear them to pieces, both of them.

Come on. I'll buy you a martini, Walter. No thanks, Keyes.

With two olives.

No, I've got to get a shave and a shoeshine. I've got a date.

Margie. I still bet she drinks from the bottle.

They give you matches when you buy cigars, you know.

All you have to do is ask for them.

Don't like them, they always explode in my pocket. So long, Walter.

(Walter) I was scared stiff, Keyes.

Maybe you were playing cat-and-mouse with me.

Maybe you knew all along I was the somebody else.

I had to find out, and I knew where to look. In your office.

(Keyes on dictation machine) Memo to Mr. Norton.

Confidential. Dietrichson file.

With regard to your proposal to put Walter Neff under surveillance...

I disagree absolutely.

I have investigated his movements on the night of the crime... and he's definitely placed in his apartment from 7:15 p. m. On.

In addition to this, I have known Neff intimately for 11 years... and I personally vouch for him without reservation.


[Buzzing stops]

Furthermore, no connection whatsoever has been established... between Walter Neff and Mrs. Phyllis Dietrichson... whereas I am now able to report that such a connection has been established... between her and another man.

This man has been observed to visit Mrs. Dietrichson... on the nights of July 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th.

We have succeeded in identifying him as one Nino Zachetti... former medical student, age of 28... residing at Lilac Court Apartments...

12281/2 North La Brea Avenue.

We have checked Zachetti's movements on the night of the crime... and have found that they cannot be accounted for.

I am preparing a more detailed report for your consideration.

It is my belief that we already have sufficient evidence against Zachetti... and Mrs. Dietrichson to justify police action.

I strongly urge that this whole matter be turned over to the office... of the district attorney.

Respectfully, Barton Keyes.


[Buzzing stops]

Phyllis? It's Walter. I've got to see you. Tonight.

Yes, it has to be tonight.

How's 11:00?

Don't worry about Keyes.

Just leave the front door unlocked and put the lights out.

No, nobody's watching the house. Not anymore.

It's just for the neighbors. I told you not to worry about Keyes.

I'll see you at 11:00. Yeah.

Goodbye, baby.

(Walter) I guess I don't have to tell you... what I intended to do at 11:00, Keyes.

For the first time, I saw a way to get clear of the whole mess I was in... and of Phyllis, too, all at the same time.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

What I didn't know was that she had plans of her own.

[Car approaching]

[Car door closing]

In here, Walter.

[Jazz music playing]

Hello, baby.

Anybody else in the house? Nobody. Why?

What's that music? A radio up the street.

Just like the first time I came here, isn't it?

We were talking about automobile insurance.

Only you were thinking about murder.

I was thinking about that anklet.

And what are you thinking about now?

I'm all through thinking, baby.

I just came to say goodbye. Goodbye?

Where are you going? You're the one that's going, baby. Not me.

I'm getting off the trolley car right at this corner.

Suppose you stop being fancy. Let's have it, whatever it is.

All right, I'll tell you. A friend of mine's got a funny theory.

He says when two people commit a murder, it's sort of like they're riding... on a trolley car together. One can't get off without the other.

They're stuck with each other and they have to go on... riding together clear to the end of the line.

And the last stop is the cemetery.

Maybe he's got something there. You bet he has.

Two people are gonna ride to the end of the line, all right.

Only I'm not gonna be one of them. I've got another guy to finish my ride for me.

Just who are you talking about? An acquaintance of yours.

A Mr. Zachetti.

Come on, baby, I just got into this thing... because I happen to know a little something about insurance, didn't I?

I was a sucker.

I'd have been brushed off just as soon as you got your hands on the money.

Nobody wanted to brush you off. Save it. I'm telling this.

It's been you and that Zachetti guy all along, hasn't it?

That's not true.

Doesn't make any difference if it's true or not.

The point is, Keyes believes Zachetti is the one he's been looking for.

He'll have him in that gas chamber before he knows what's happened to him.

What's happening to me all this time? Don't be silly, baby.

What do you think is gonna happen to you? You helped him do the murder, didn't you?

That's what Keyes thinks.

And what's good enough for Keyes is good enough for me.

Maybe it's not good enough for me, Walter. Maybe I don't go for the idea.

Maybe I'd rather talk.

Sometimes people are where they can't talk. Under six feet of dirt, maybe.

And if it was you, they'd charge that up to Zachetti, too, wouldn't they?

Sure they would, and that's just what's gonna happen, baby.

'Cause he's coming here tonight, in about 15 minutes.

With the cops right behind him. It's all taken care of.

That would make everything lovely for you, wouldn't it?

Right. And it's got to be done before that suit of yours comes to trial... and Lola gets a chance to sound off... before they trip you up on the stand, and you start to go in drag me down with you.

Maybe I had Zachetti here so they won't get a chance to trip me up... so we can get the money and be together.

That's cute. Say it again. He came here first to ask where Lola was.

I made him come back. I was working on him.

He's a crazy sort of guy, quick-tempered.

I kept hammering into him that she was with another man... so he'd go into one of his jealous rages, and then I'd tell him where she was.

And you know what he would've done to her, don't you, Walter?

Yeah, and for once I believe you, because it's just rotten enough.

We're both rotten.

Only you're a little more rotten.

You got me to take care of your husband for you... and then you got Zachetti to take care of Lola, maybe take care of me, too.

Then somebody else would have come along to take care of Zachetti for you.

That's the way you operate, isn't it, baby? Suppose it is.

Is what you've got cooked up for tonight any better?

I don't like that music anymore. Mind if I close the window?

[Gun fires]

You can do better than that, can't you, baby?

Better try it again.

Maybe if I came a little closer?

How's this? Think you can do it now?

Why didn't you shoot again, baby?

Don't tell me it's because you've been in love with me all this time.

No, I never loved you, Walter, not you or anybody else.

I'm rotten to the heart. I used you, just as you said.

That's all you ever meant to me... until a minute ago... when I couldn't fire that second shot.

I never thought that could happen to me.

Sorry, baby. I'm not buying. I'm not asking you to buy.

Just hold me close.

Goodbye, baby.

[Gun fires twice]


Come here.

I said, come here.

My name is Neff. Yeah, and I still don't like it.

What do you want?

Look, kid.

I want to give you a present. This nice new nickel.

What's the gag? Suppose you go on back down the hill... to the drugstore and make a phone call.

Keep your nickel and buy yourself an ice-cream cone.

The number is Granite-0-3-8-6.

Ask for Miss Dietrichson. First name is Lola.

She isn't worth a nickel.

If I ever talk to her, it's not going to be over any telephone.

Tough, aren't you?

Here, take the nickel and call her. She wants you to.

She doesn't want any part of me.

I know who told you that. It's not true.

Lola's in love with you. She always has been.

Don't ask me why. I couldn't even guess.

Here. Granite-0-3-8-6. Now go on and call her.

Go on. That way.

(Walter) It's almost 4:30 now, Keyes.

It's cold.

I wonder if she's still lying alone up there in that house... or if they've found her by now.

I wonder a lot of things. They don't matter anymore.


Except I want you to do a favor for me, Keyes.

I want you to be the one to tell Lola, kind of gently, before it breaks wide open.

And I want you to take care of her and that guy Zachetti...

so he doesn't get pushed around too much.

Hello, Keyes.

Up pretty early, aren't you?

I always wondered what time you got down to the office.

Or did that little man of yours pull you out of bed?

The janitor did.

Seems you leaked a little blood on the way in here.


Wouldn't be surprised.

I wanted to straighten you out on that Dietrichson case.

So I gather.

How long have you been standing there? Long enough.

Kind of a crazy story with a crazy twist to it.

One you didn't quite figure out.

You can't figure them all, Walter.

That's right. I guess you can't at that.

Now I suppose I get the big speech... the one with all the two-dollar words in it.

Let's have it, Keyes.

Walter, you're all washed up.

Thanks, Keyes. That was short anyway.

I'm gonna call for a doctor.

What for? So they can patch me up?

So they can nurse me along till I get back on my feet?

So I can walk into that gas chamber up at San Quentin on my own power?

Is that it, Keyes?

Something like that.

I've got a different idea. Yeah?

Look, Keyes.

Suppose you went back to bed and didn't find these cylinders... till tomorrow morning, when the office opens...

After that you can play it any way you like.

Would you do that much for me, Keyes?

Give me one good reason. I need four hours to get where I'm going.

You're not going anywhere, Walter. You bet I am.

I'm going across the border. You haven't got a chance, Walter.

Good enough to try for.

You'll never make the border. That's what you think.

Just watch me.

You'll never even make the elevator.

So long, Keyes.

[Phone dialing]

(Keyes) Hello... send an ambulance to the Pacific Building on Olive Street.

Yeah. It's a police job.

How you doing, Walter? Fine.

Only somebody moved the elevator a couple of miles away.

They're on the way.

You know why you couldn't figure this one, Keyes?

I'll tell you.

Because the guy you were looking for was too close.

He was right across the desk from you.

Closer than that, Walter.


I love you, too.