Lights! Camera! Insurance?
The Academy Awards seem to have overlooked a critical component of Hollywood during this year's Oscar season. While they may have award categories for “Best Actress,” “Best Actor,” and “Best Director,” they’re missing one category: “Best Insurance-Related Movie.”
Fear not! We’ve got you covered.
Lloyds of London – 1936
Are you seeking a convoluted, insurance-jargon-heavy plot emphasizing British naval history during the Napoleonic Wars? Look no further.
Blake has become a successful underwriter operating a profitable London-based syndicate. As the naval war with France heats up, and more insured English ships are sunk, insurance rates begin to spike and ship owners refuse to sail. It’s up to Blake and his syndicate to underwrite ships at the old rates and ensure the British naval forces remain strong in the face of Napoleon and his Imperial Navy.
Director: Henry King (The Gunfighter, Twelve O'Clock High, The Song of Bernadette)
Actors: Freddie Bartholomew and Tyrone Power as Jonathan Blake, Madeleine Carroll as Lady Elizabeth
Double Indemnity - 1944
A high watermark of the noir genre shot in sumptuous black and white by cinematographer John F. Seitz. Cowritten by the king of noir, Raymond Chandler, this one will leave you on the edge of your seat from the opening credits to the final curtain.
An insurance agent, Walter Neff, meets a wealthy socialite, Phyllis, and together they scheme to kill her husband for the big payout. Their plot seems buttoned up tight, until a pesky claims investigator starts snooping around. As things begin to go terribly awry, the two lovebirds turn against each other with tragic results. Ultimately, it turns out that crime doesn't pay, but it does provide some thrilling entertainment!
Who'd you think I was anyway? The 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?’
Director: Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, The Lost Weekend)
Actors: Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson, Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes
The Killers - 1946
Backstabbing? Sultry lounge singers? The thrilling escapades of a life insurance investigator? This classic noir, based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, has got it all.
After a pair of hitmen leave Swede dead in his hotel room, it’s up to Jim Reardon, a hardnosed insurance investigator, to track down the beneficiary of a $2,500 life insurance policy. In pursuit of his goal, our intrepid detective enters a world of New Jersey criminals, femme fatales, and plenty of double-crossing.
Owing to your splendid efforts, the basic rate of The Atlantic Casualty Company - as of 1947 - will probably drop one-tenth of a cent.
Director: Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross, The Spiral Staircase, Phantom Lady)
Actors: Burt Lancaster as Ole “the Swede” Anderson, Ava Gardner as Kitty Collins, Edmond O'Brien as Jim Reardon
Pitfall - 1948
Sometimes it’s best to be content with what you do have. This straightforward 40’s noir is a marital drama about a straying husband who finds himself embroiled in society's seedy underbelly.
John Forbes is a man with countless dreams shattered by life’s harsh realities, stuck in a monotonous routine and tired of his job as an insurance adjuster. However, he soon gets tangled up with a femme fatale, falling in love with her and sending his life into a tailspin. Forbes survives by the skin of his teeth, dodging a scummy investigator and an ex-convict. In the end, he gains a greater appreciation for the life he has.
Tommy Forbes: Dad was a boxer in college!
Doctor: I think he was wise to go into insurance.
Director: André de Toth (Day of the Outlaw, House of Wax, Crime Wave)
Actors: Dick Powell as John Forbes, Lizabeth Scott as Mona Stevens, Raymond Burr as MacDonald
To Catch a Thief – 1955
A classic Hitchcock picture: entertaining, suspenseful, and loaded with stunning visuals. Though insurance takes a back seat on this one, it’s worth including in this list as a classic, proto-James Bond action thriller.
Retired jewel thief John Robie becomes the prime suspect in a series of new heists throughout the French Riviera. To clear his name, Robie enlists the aid of an insurance man, H.H. Hughson of Lloyds of London, and sets out to catch the real thief. After crossing paths with an American heiress, they team up to solve the mystery, gradually developing feelings for each other in the process.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, Psycho, North By Northwest)
Actors: Cary Grant as John Robie, Grace Kelley as Frances Stevens, John Williams as H.H. Hughson
Alias Jesse James – 1959
Comedic escapades and insurance policies rarely go hand in hand. Luckily, we have this silly little movie to fill that void.
As only a bumbling insurance agent can, Farnsworth accidentally sells a life insurance policy to the famed gunslinger and notorious outlaw Jesse James. Heading west, Farnsworth is tasked with protecting James at all costs. Along the way, he becomes embroiled in a fraud scheme, falls in love with the outlaw’s wife, and ends up becoming the president of the insurance company. Who knew insurance agents lived such adventurous lives?
But vast as the resources and holdings of these mighty companies are today, each is the result of great pioneering courage and perseverance of these great founders. And who deserves much of the credit for the evolution of these companies from their simple beginnings into their present size? It is no one but that almost forgotten hardworking door-to-door insurance salesman, to whom we respectfully dedicate this picture.
Director: Norman Z. McLeod (Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Actors: Bob Hope as Milford Farnsworth, Rhonda Fleming as Cora Lee Collins, Wendell Corey as Jesse James
The Apartment – 1960
One of the highest-grossing films of 1960, The Apartment was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture; it’s a sublime romantic comedy that’ll tickle your funny bone and tug at your heartstrings.
Baxter works at a large insurance company in New York and dreams of corporate success. To win the approval of the company executives, he permits them to use his apartment, which serves as an ideal location for them to engage in their illicit affairs discreetly. Things get complicated when Baxter falls in love with his boss's mistress, Fran.
Fran Kubelik: What do you call it when somebody keeps getting smashed up in automobile accidents?
C.C. Baxter: Bad insurance risk?
Fran Kubelik: That's me with men.
Director: Billy Wilder (This guy again; he must have a thing for insurance)
Actors: Jack Lemmon as C.C. “Bud” Baxter, Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik, Fred MacMurray as Jeff D. Sheldrake
The Rainmaker - 1997
A David and Goliath courtroom drama centered around corruption in the insurance industry that’ll make you believe in the power of justice.
Rudy, a scrappy young lawyer, takes on his first case: a claim against the big insurance company that’s refused to pay out a lifesaving claim. Though he may be an underdog, he’s got a heart of gold and the determination to see this thing through to the end. Alongside his coworker Deck, Rudy takes the case to court and faces off against the cutthroat corporate lawyer Leo Drummond. Will the little guy prevail?
There's nothing more thrilling than nailing an insurance company.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation)
Actors: Matt Damon as Rudy Baylor, Danny DeVito as Deck Shifflet, Jon Voight as Leo F. Drummond
If there is one thing to take away from this article, it's this: superheroes, action adventures, and artsy independent flicks are all great, but for a genuinely spectacular and fun time at the movies, opt for a film wherein insurance plays a starring role.
What're your favorite insurance-related movies? Let us know!