Bosley Crowther had a mixed reaction to Double Indemnity in the Times on its release in the fall of 1944, noting that "Such folks as delight in murder stories for their academic elegance alone should find this one steadily diverting, despite its monotonous pace and length." He was right about the greatness of Edward G. Robinson though:
"The performance of Mr. Robinson, however, as a smart adjuster of insurance claims is a fine bit of characterization within its allotment of space. With a bitter brand of humor and irritability, he creates a formidable guy. As a matter of fact, Mr. Robinson is the only one you care two hoots for in the film. The rest are just neatly carved pieces in a variably intriguing crime game."
Mike D'Angelo at the Onion AV Club takes a close look at what he calls the "meet-hot" scene between Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, in which the two actors make manifest the lust that drives the film (and provides the link to this week's circle of Hell).
"As much as I love that closing verbal sparring match, it's mostly the first instant in which they lay eyes on each other that slays me, with Stanwyck looking down on her pigeon-to-be from atop that "silly staircase," perfectly at ease standing all but naked in front of a total stranger, and MacMurray not even bothering to conceal his lust, radiating a brash self-confidence that even contemporary mega-studs like Clooney and Depp would be hard-pressed to pull off."
The Film Noir Blonde, as part of the recent blogathon to benefit the Film Noir Foundation, takes a look at Barbara Stanwyck's wig in Double Indemnity, quoting director Billy Wilder:
"Sure, that was a highly intelligent actress, Miss Stanwyck. I questioned the wig, but it was proper, because it was a phony wig. It was an obviously phony wig. And the anklet — the equipment of a woman, you know, that is married to this kind of man. They scream for murder."