Credit: Barry Wetcher

Who knew that insurance was such a compelling movie topic? Just in time for the Oscars, the Insurance Information Institute, an industry lobbying group, has compiled a list of the best films ever made featuring insurance agents and claims adjusters as major characters, and it has some excellent movies on it, including Double Indemnity, Memento, and To Catch a Thief. Still, it’s a curious list, considering that almost all the movies on it portray the industry and its workers in an unflattering light. In these films, insurance folk tend to be killers, adulterers, or scam artists. They sleep with their policyholders (or, like Rene Russo, pictured, in The Thomas Crown Affair, with the targets of their investigations), plot to defraud their employers, or heartlessly deny benefits to desperate claimants. Kind of surprising that these movies would get the ringing endorsement of insurance lobbyists. Maybe insurance folk, like everyone else, long for the wish fulfillment of the cinema, where everyone’s lives seem a little bit more glamorous, dangerous, and exciting. If Hollywood filmmakers can do that for insurers, they can do it for anybody.