Double Indemnity
Bill Kramer: 5 Films I Keep Returning To
bill kramer
Bill Kramer
CEO, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science

"There are so many films I return to on a consistent basis," Bill Kramer acknowledges – and it’s not a hard statement to believe. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' new CEO stepped into his role on July 1, after a successful reign as Director and President of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and a lifelong love of film that started in childhood. Though there are countless films that stick out over Kramer's many decades dedicated to film – he can't help but share memories of seeing family classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a child, and later, while coming of age, diving into the films of Pedro Almodóvar, Spike Lee, Brian De Palma, Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, John Waters, and so many more. These five films represent seminal cinematic moments and have all become staples in Kramer's rotation.

He shares these films, his personal "classics," with A.frame below.

MORE: The Academy's New CEO Bill Kramer Is on a Mission to Unify the Film Industry (Exclusive)

1
Tokyo Story
1953
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Directed by: Yasujirô Ozu | Written by: Kôgo Noda and Yasujirô Ozu

Ozu's one of my all-time favorite directors, and his films contain perfectly crafted scenes. Each moment has the composition of a still photograph or painting. I see something new every time I watch his films. Tokyo Story rises to the top for me because it's a beautiful story about generational differences, and loving your parents while also feeling disconnected from them. It's universal. I'm really transported by his visuals.

2
Double Indemnity
1944
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Directed by: Billy Wilder | Written by: Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler

Billy Wilder is one of the most versatile and clever filmmakers of Hollywood's classical era – working brilliantly in different genres – and Double Indemnity is one of his best. The three leads, [Fred] MacMurray, [Barbara] Stanwyck, and [Edward G.] Robinson, give some of their most masterful performances. The spectacular black-and-white cinematography of John Seitz has roots in German Expressionism and perfectly captures the bleakness, corruption, and paranoia of the story. Like all great film noirs, Double Indemnity is seductive, suspenseful, and hard to shake.

3
Klute
1971
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Directed by: Alan J. Pakula | Written by: Andy Lewis and David E. Lewis

Klute is one of the great New York City films of the '70s – it's so gritty – with two fantastic lead performances. Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland are both such smart actors and bring so much empathy and realism to their complex characters. The tension and suspense in the film almost never let up – even in scenes that seem benign. Cinematographer Gordon Willis creates this incredible sensation that you, the viewer, are a voyeur, which heightens the eeriness. And composer Michael Small's haunting score is extremely unsettling. It's a deeply satisfying thriller and a powerful character study.

4
The Lady Eve
1941
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Directed by: Preston Sturges | Written by: Monckton Hoffe and Preston Sturges

The Lady Eve contains one of cinema's most indelible comedic performances. Barbara Stanwyck plays Jean Harrington (and masquerades as Lady Eve Sidwich) with incredible intelligence and precision. Written by Monckton Hoffe and Preston Sturges, the dialogue is sharp, sophisticated and witty. It is a classic screwball comedy that becomes more delightful with each viewing.

5
Sweet Smell of Success
1957
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Directed by: Alexander Mackendrick | Written by: Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman

Sweet Smell of Success is an acerbic and intoxicating film that still feels incredibly relevant today. It's a great character study of two unscrupulous men in the harsh world of media and PR played by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis – two phenomenal performances that I think are their career best. The film is just so much fun to watch. The stylized screenplay by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets has so many biting and hilarious lines – 'I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.' And the black-and-white cinematography from the brilliant James Wong Howe is full of dark, shadowy urban environments. The film still feels so potent to me, even though I’ve seen it dozens of times.

Reporting by Elisa Osegueda

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