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Extra-Marital Movies

November 30, 2009

by John Farr

John Farr recommends three films for all you philanderers out there.

Double Indemnity (1944)


Gorgeous schemer Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) enlists a besotted insurance salesman, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), to draw up a life-insurance policy on her husband without his knowledge – and then kill him. The murder goes as planned, but the two lovers lose faith in each other’s motives when they face suspicious claims investigator Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), whose queries trigger a fatal game of cat and mouse.


One of the quintessential noir films, Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity” is a masterpiece of stark atmosphere and carefully stylized suspense. The talented Barbara Stanwyck, a familiar face in the 1940s noir universe, assumes her role with feline deviousness, while “My Three Sons” TV dad Fred MacMurray – narrating the film via flashback – brilliantly plays against type. Raymond Chandler’s screenplay sizzles with hard-boiled repartee and the great Edward G. Robinson is aces as always as the dogged investigator hot on the lovers’ trail. Sinister, tense, and cynical, Wilder’s “Indemnity” is riveting film suspense.

The World of Henry Orient (1964)


Two New York City schoolgirls develop a crush on the title character, a second-rate concert pianist and frustrated ladies’ man (Peter Sellers). They then decide to stalk the poor fellow, foiling his meticulously planned assignations.


Sellers is in rare form as the perpetually striving, but eternally mediocre fraud, Henry Orient. The two girls who pursue him (Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker) give refreshingly natural performances. Paula Prentiss is screamingly funny as one of Orient’s nervous paramours, while Angela Lansbury injects a cold note of evil as one girl’s mother. Beautiful on-location scenery of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Fatal Attraction (1987)


Manhattan lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is happily married to his gorgeous wife Beth (Anne Archer), with whom he has a 6-year-old daughter. After a chance meeting with the sexy, intriguing Alex (Glenn Close) leads to a passionate two-night affair in her apartment, Dan says goodbye and means it. But Alex has no intention of giving up Dan – ever – and proceeds to turn the Gallaghers’ lives into an escalating nightmare.


Adrian Lyne’s disturbing “Fatal Attraction” remains the ultimate cautionary tale for extra-marital thrill seekers. What begins as an entirely plausible drama about a one-night stand quickly morphs into a shocking psychological thriller in Lyne’s hands, with Douglas turning in one of the iconic performances of the 80s. But it’s Glenn Close’s bestial, unhinged villainess that made this film a box-office smash. Despite a tacked-on, slasher-movie-style ending, “Attraction” picked up six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

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  • View Comments
  • Force Factor

    The law of attraction is the main reason for this and so does the temptation. If a man can not over come the habit of smoking immediately how will s/he overcome such other habits. It is an habit that is developed by an individual and nothing to do with satisfaction.

  • rayban

    Great choices, John, and you cover three different genres – film noir, comedy and sexist thriller – by the way, “The World of Henry Orient” is an inspired choice.

    In this category, Fritz Lang’s “Scarlet Street” with Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea is pretty much of a “must-see”, I think.

  • Nikki

    There are so many great films to choose from. “The Captain’s Paradise”; “Brief Encounder”; “Ice Storm”; “Hotel Paradiso”; and “Alfie”; “Divorce Italian Style”; “Intermezzo”; “Brief Encounter”; “Slueth”; and of course “The Postman Always Rings Twice”

  • dan

    Double Indemnity and Scarlet Street, particularly the latter since it is rarely if ever shown, are my tops. I can always recall “lazylegs.” But you have to be old to have seen the original releases.

  • Ron

    Peter Greenaway’s shocking: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

  • John Farr

    these are all great titles…love nikki’s list and yes-scarlet street…also lang’s first film with those same stars the prior year: woman in the window…

  • kimmie

    “Brief Encounter” – an excellent film. And I love that Rachmaninoff score!

  • rayban

    I’d love to add “The Bridges of Madison County” – in the hands of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, that film had a great deal of power.

  • learn mind power guy

    Force factor,
    Sorry to tell you . . . The Law of Attraction . . . ISN’T!!

    A Law that is!

    Maybe in the way of The Law of Diminishing Returns, which says; after certain critical mass, a product loses value in direct proportion to its higher cost.

    Maybe in the way of Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong it will.

    Maybe in the way of judicial law “We state that serial rapist is an innocent victim of women’s wantonness; Case Dismissed!”

    But certainly not in the way of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. Can you imagine playing pool and more than half the time you strike a ball IT REFUSES TO BUDGE!!!!!! “Oh sorry, other conditions: the felt, the slate, the cue, table height; weren’t quite right”

    But certainly not in the way of The Law of Gravity. Can you imagine jumping off a brick fence and over half the time you jut hang there in mid-air? “Oh sorry, other conditions: metal under the pavement, a northerly wind, wasn’t concentrating hard enough when I jumped, the fence had an incline; weren’t quite right”

    But certainly not in the way of Pythagorus’ theorem. “Hey guys, 65% of the triangles I draw, DON”T have squares on the other sides that add up to the square on the hypotenuse.

    But who cares? It’s still a law. Sites like this dwell on the topic.

    So again, The Law of Attraction is NOT a Bona Fide law!! It’s all symbolic conjecture by Abraham-Hicks. If you honestly believe The Law of Attraction is a universal law, as proclaimed by Bob Proctor, Joe Vitale, Rhonda Byrne et al, you really need to adjust your thinking, guys!! Don’t allow marketing guru hysteria to do your thinking for you.