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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
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  • Love and lust, love and murder. James M. Cain, John Garfield and Lana Turner make a fine, tawdry story
    With platinum hair, dark eyelashes and pouty lips, Cora Smith is a slut to dream about. Or maybe she's just an ambitious, dissatisfied wife, married to Nick, the fat older owner of a greasy roadside diner. Or maybe all those banked flames of hers are getting too much fresh oxygen from tough, dumb Frank Chambers, who drifts into her life and watches Cora's lipstick roll across the diner floor to his feet. It doesn't matter. Fate is walking slowly down the highway toward Cora and Frank. Nothing is going to change what passion and murder will bring them, and the twist of ironic justice sets them up for a great ending.

    There are so many good things about this movie. The four obvious ones start with the story by James M. Cain. We're talking hot lust, dumb love and the kind of ironic inevitability that always comes in first-class noirs. There's the cynical display of the legal process, not quite corrupt -- what does justice have to do with the law? -- but rewarding to those who can best manipulate it. There's Lana Turner as Cora, no actress, but who makes believable the kind of blood-thumping single-mindedness that can turn a not-so-smart drifter into a willing participant in murder. She can offer sex and she can offer love, and neither we nor Frank is sure which has any truth. Frank will settle for the sex, but then he realizes with Cora he might have both. And there's John Garfield as Frank in a perfect performance as this flawed, gullible sap who thinks he can commit murder and call it love. All he wants is Cora on a hot night. He winds up wanting Cora for eternity, and is comforted that she'll be there for him.

    Do many people remember John Garfield now? He made a name on Broadway and an even bigger name in Hollywood. He was a committed liberal who was ruined during the Commie witch-hunts. By the late Forties he couldn't find work in Hollywood. All those studio heads who made money from his films didn't want to touch him. He was no Communist, just too liberal for the frightened suits. Garfield's film career was in tatters. He was a first-class actor but naive when it came to politics. He couldn't understand what was happening to him. He died of heart failure in New York in 1952 while trying to reestablish himself on the stage. He was 39. To see just how good he was, watch his reaction shots in this movie...when he first sees Cora...when he has to get in the car next to Nick right after he's smashed Nick's skull with a bottle...when at the end of the movie he reads Cora's note and listens to the DA. Garfield's last major movie was Force of Evil in 1948. These two films demonstrate just how powerful a screen actor John Garfield was and how much this nation lost through expediency and intimidation.

    The DVD transfer is just fine. Among the extras is a fine documentary about Garfield....more info
  • in the time of film noir
    I admit to being a film noir fan of long standing. Maybe it was the fact of growing up in the time of black and white television and watching all those late night movies which were freely available at the time. Maybe it was that tight, if improbable, dialogue, the relatively simple plots and the dramatic effect of the shadows of black and white photography on mood. In any case, the Postman Always Rings Twice fits nicely into that mix. The plot line is fairly simple- unhappy California housewife, older uncaring husband and a younger man at the door who turns out to be handy with a wretch- all the ingredients for a murder. Hey, isn't this the plot for Double Indemnity. Oh well, you get the point. Of course, as always the guilty parties will have to face justice. You know this is a modern morality play, after all. In any case one should like Double Indemnity by the same author, James M. Cain, read the book to get a better feel for the language, the steamier sexual tension and better insight into the motivations of the parties. This movie was remade in color in the 1980's and is probably truer to Cain's wicked designs but this is the definitive Postman. ...more info
  • One ofthe best of its kind
    This is one of the best film noir that was evr made. The plot is captivating, the atmosphere unique and you can feel the sensuality and tension that Lan turner and John Garfield give out. The story is very well known- a hitchaker that stops at a restasurant, falls in love with the owner's wife and they plot to kill him. Extremely well acted and with an also excellent directing and photography this is a must.
    Enjoy it....more info
  • the ultimate film noir
    THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is the epitome of how sublime the Film Noir genre can be. The story of a seductive young woman who goads the handsome hired-hand into murdering her much older husband. Based on the novel by James M. Cain and boasting the stylish performances of Lana Turner and John Garfield, this film was ensured of becoming an instant classic. Over half a century later, we are still singing it's praises.

    From Lana Turner's memorable entrance as Cora Smith (clad entirely in white and smouldering like a stack of burnt tyres), the audience is taken on a rollercoaster of thrills. The drifter Frank Chambers (Garfield) is so completely infatuated that murder can be as easy as picking up a lipstick case. Cecil Kellaway, Karl Malden and Hume Cronyn co-star. The new DVD from Warners includes a fantastic documentary about John Garfield, plus still-galleries and trailers.

    Aspect Ratio: 1:37:1 (fullscreen)
    Single-sided, dual-layer disc
    Snapper case
    Audio: English (mono), French (mono), German (mono), Spanish (mono)
    Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, Danish, Icelandic, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Swedish, Czech, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Arabic, English (hearing impaired), German (hearing impaired)...more info
  • Film Noir Circa 1946
    Director Tay Garnett's adaptation of James M. Cain's THE POSTMAN ALWAYS PLAYS TWICE holds up well after sixty years. In spite of the restraints the director had to work with during that period, Lana Turner as Cora Smith and John Garfield as Frank, the couple who plot the murder of Cora's husband Nick, still manage to heat up the screen. The sexual chemistry is there and all that late-night frolicking they do at the beach gets right erotic. The film though interesting is less than perfect. It takes a little effort on the part of the viewer to believe that Cora prances around her husband's diner that is hardly more than a greasy spoon-- in the middle of the Depression-- dressed all in white, in a turbin, short shorts, heels and showing her midriff. And only a Hollywood star of the calibre of Ms. Turner would return from a swim perfectly coiffed in a dry swimsuit. Additionally, in the ending minutes of the film Garfield hits the viewer over the head in a wordy explanation, just before he is to be executed, of what the title of the movie really means.

    That a sixty-year-old movie is still watched and enjoyed, however, for more reasons than just its camp effect speaks volumes for it. This is not a bad way to spend two hours of your evening....more info
  • Well, it has its moments.
    I must say, after viewing this film I find that my appreciation of Hitchcock has increased tremendously. No, his films are never quite as great as they're made out to be, and even the best of them suffer from moments of unintentional hilarity. However, if this is the sort of thing they were up against, it's not hard to see how they've achieved their reputation.

    I can't say that The Postman Always Rings Twice is totally without merit, but these moments of real tension are very far and few between, and given the aimless, shambling pace of the film, they tend to be swallowed up by the rest of it. The thoroughly average actors go through the motions with relative competence, but they don't have much to do. The relationship between the two illicit lovers was obviously meant to be torrid/feverish/mad, but the truth is, it's barely there. And I don't think that this can entirely be blamed on the film code, either. Regardless of the wherefores, however, without any evidence whatsoever--no matter how veiled--of any sort of sexual tension between them, the wheels come off the whole affair. Furthermore, the act of the murder itself isn't given any cinematic gravity, and the faintly silly legal procedings that follow from it don't do favors to anyone.

    The ending, it's true, works well enough, although the banana peel death on which it hinges takes away even from that. hint to filmmakers: if you're trying to invoke a sense of cosmic justice, you can't use random, predicated-on-nothing plot twists. In paying homage to the noir genre, The Man Who Wasn't There pulled it off infinitely more adroitly than is done here. And we certainly could have lived without the helpful explanation of this mechanism--and the film's title--at the end. Okay, guys, we get the picture. It ain't all that deep.

    Who knows, maybe I'm wrong about this film and everyone else is right: it really IS a cinematic masterpiece. I very much doubt it, though. People are oft blinded by reputation, and much as I hate to psychologize complete strangers, I think that's what's happening here. The Postman Always Rings Twice is not a good movie....more info

  • The beautiful Lana Turner sparkles in this movie of passion, betrayal and danger!
    This review is for the 2004 Warner Brothers DVD.

    The story begins with a young, hitchhiking drifter named Frank Chambers (John Garfield) being dropped off in front of diner with a sign on the front stating: "Man Wanted". Shortly thereafter Frank is hired by an overweight and socially boring man in his 50's named Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). Frank then meets Nick's drop-dead gorgeous wife named Cora (Lana Turner) who is probably half of Nick's age. Over time, Frank and Cora fall for each other, and then plans are made to get rid of Nick. This sets the stage for a turbulent relationship between the two of passion, betrayal and danger.

    The biggest strength of this movie for me is the blonde bombshell Lana Turner. She arguably gives the sexiest female performance for a film made in this era and radiates with beauty in every scene she's in. Personally I wasn't quite as impressed with John Garfield. He didn't seem that physically imposing for a character of this type especially when he's smacking around a guy twice his size. Hume Cronyn stood out in a masterful supporting role as a criminal defense attorney. The plot had a few interesting twists but I felt the relationship between the two main characters lacked credibility after one betrayed the other towards the end of the movie. The final scene was also weak and anti-climatic in my opinion. But in spite of its problems, if you are a fan of classic film noir movies and like beautiful women, you will find the strengths of the movie clearly outweigh the weaknesses. This movie reminded me a similar movie made in the early '80's named Body Heat - which has a much better plot and ending than this film.

    The DVD picture quality is decently sharp. It appears that some sloppy restoration was done to some minor scratches in the film (you will notice some fine vertical black lines in early part of the movie). Some tiny specs of film wear are noticed on occasion and at times the picture looks grainy, but the picture presentation is very respectable overall. The DVD has a few bonuses including a short commentary by film historian Richard Jewel, an approximately one hour documentary on John Garfield, plus a trailer and some still photos.

    Movie: B+

    DVD Quality: A-...more info
  • Bad casting, bad sets, bad costumes
    So disappointing. Hardly a dark/noir film, in my opinion. Just a proper Hollywood murder mystery. And there's no sex, except brief kissing which Lana always cuts short! I'm a James M Cain fan, and this doesn't even try to be faithful to his great noir novel. Everyone's too decent. Cora (Lana) doesn't have a treacherous or naughty bone in her body, and she's always costumed like a perfect fashion model, fingernail polish and all. Frank (Garfield)is never lustful, never mean, never desperate. Always polite and decent. Not a gas station (except for one pump that looks planted) not a single oil can or wrench. Not a greasy spoon or diner, Twin Oaks looks like a tidy clean beach cottage or B&B, fit for Donna Reed & family. The 80's Nicholson/Mammet version is much better in all these areas and actually dark. Much more faithful to Cain....more info
  • Naughty, naughty, naughty.
    I may be old fashioned but I still find this movie a little shocking. And while the end is a dissapointment, it was probably made necessary by the censors. Its also an element of Film Noir that everything ISN'T going to be ok.

    It all works because of Lana Turner. Ms. Turner takes a simple--and hopfully, implausible--story and makes it cheap, tawdry and hotter than hell.

    Man, this must have been something in 1946! I'll bet a lot of couples gave each other a long look as they left the theatre.......more info

  • This is second to none version.
    A masterpiece was due to the original as well as the powerful combination of charismatic persona, Lana Turner and John Garfield, Impressive acting, fine directing. Lana Turner plays typically calculating femme fatale. However mysterious sensual unique. Postman as doom-ridden victim, John Garfield delivery catastrophe while the harvest of evil affairs causes inevitable retribution. This is a serious crime drama, but the other side a cynical justice drama....more info
  • Yawn...
    Sure Lana Turner looks great in this film but truly that's about all it has going for it. The plot was so thin and predictable I started fidgeting in my chair 10 minutes into it. First of all Mr. Smith all but allowed this affair to happen and in some scenes seems to encourage them. Then the constant attempts at murder bordered on comedy. I have a feeling that the book is better than this production but then if viewers from the 40's just wanted to drool after Ms. Turner then I can see why this was such a big hit....more info
  • Uneven production, unfulfilled potential
    So much potential. This could have been a great movie. Scene after scene the viewer is swept along with the momentum, only to find that the final scenes are empty, void of any motivation to watch, except in knowing that the end is near. Weakness in the `legal' aspects would have been insignificant, if only the story had been properly concluded. Lana Turner and John Garfield were masterful. The turns of emotion between contempt and fear and love and hate were brilliantly portrayed. The characterizations were real, Turner beautiful and desirable, Garfield believable as a drifter, as a handy-man, and as Turner's love interest. Yes, the DA was too brilliant and the motorcycle cop too stupid - both minor characters - most of the supporting cast was superb.

    The emotional tension is kept at a fever pitch until the final scenes, and then a total and complete let down. This movie should have ended at the final calamity. There was nothing more to be said, unfortunately, much more was. ...more info
  • Kisses With Dreams In Them....
    Lana Turner and John Garfield hunger for something more in Tay Garnett's glossy soap opera noir, "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Based on James M. Cain's lusty potboiler, Turner is fantastic as the manipulative yet vulnerable Cora Smith and Garfield excellent as the drifter who can't get Cora or her dreams out of his blood. Turner is like a white creme, icy cold on the surface but burning hot and deep with desire underneath.

    Cora is a girl aware of her looks and effect on men. Since she was 14 she's had to argue with men about it. But she didn't have to argue with Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway), a much older man Cora marries for security, not love. When drifter Frank Chambers (Grafield) shows up to fill the help wanted sign at the Twin Oaks Diner Nick and Cora run, she discovers she can't live without love or passion.

    Cora is a smouldering vision in white when Frank first sees her, a room full of gas that only needs a spark to ignite. Frank knows he can sell anything to anybody and begins to fan the flames when he talks Nick into getting a neon sign for the diner Cora wants. Cora has big dreams for the diner and wants to be somebody. She tries in her own way to resist what is going to happen between she and Frank but deep down knows that all the things she married Nick for and clings to are the things she really wants with Frank.

    Cora lets him kiss her once then stays away, working Frank into an internal frenzy of desire. After a midnight swim in the ocean they get a week alone and their fate is sealed, the gas ignited and burning out of control. It is Cora who lets Frank's lust simmer until he loves her and wants her so much nothing matters, not even what stands in the way of them and Cora's dreams.

    Garfield is excellent as a guy who knows he's signed on for a one way ride to nowhere but can't help himself, because the mere thought of sharing the ride with Cora tips the scales. There is a tricky D.A. (Leon Ames) onto them after a botched first attempt to live out Cora's dreams fails and only a crafty defense attorney, portrayed with zeal by Hume Cronyn, gets Cora off when they finally succeed. But an insurance policy Frank didn't know about causes distrust and the results are Cora and Frank on the outs again.

    But they are chained to each other. Jealousy and a blackmail attempt gone awry bring them back to the beach where they were happy. A dangerous swim to prove their trust in each other restores their love and they are happy and dreaming once again. They may be able to atone for their sins even, unless fate has other plans....

    Turner gives an icy hot performance here, with many long takes between she and Garfield as they are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Much is made of director Tay Garnett framing Turner in sexy white outfits throughout the film. Her best scene, however, and the one in which she is the most strikinginly beautiful, she is dressed in a black bathrobe. Cora is in the kitchen caressing a knife and agonizing over her dreams and what needs to be done to make them come true. When Frank walks in on her, her voice catches, her reluctance to follow through real. She tells Garfield in a quivering voice, "If you really loved me."

    Whereas Wilder's Double Indemnity was a dark noir of twisted passion and greed set in Claifornia, Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice uses the bright sunshine and beaches of L.A. County in the 1940's to create a soap opera noir, a shining blonde Turner and a reluctant drifter Garfield at its center. A must for Turner fans and good pick for fans of this genre who want to watch a glossy noir....more info
  • Fatal Attraction
    "The Postman Always Rings Twice" 1946 film

    Frank is hitchhiking from San Francisco; he doesn't worry about his future. He knows how to fix cars. The restaurant owner hires him, and Frank sees Cora in her sun bathing outfit. Cora wants to make something of the restaurant. Frank admires her. The hot Santa Anna wind is blowing in from the desert [this affects people's emotions]. Frank and Cora dance to the music in the jukebox. [What was Nick thinking?] Frank and Cora go swimming in the ocean, they become friendlier. Nick is worried about being cheated by the laundry service, the butcher, and what else? Frank and Cora try to run away, but Cora has second thoughts. She wants something more.

    Nick's driving causes a near accident. [This tells about their traffic laws.] What if something really bad happened? There is a near miss when Nick returns and finds the suitcases. Cora explains how things would be much better for them if Nick wasn't around. Cora gets an idea from a magazine, but fate throws a detour into their plans. [How many others read that same article?] Curiosity kills another cat. Frank leaves for Los Angeles, but later Nick finds him and brings him back, a surprise for Cora. [Note the old two-button light switches.] Nick will sell "Twin Oaks" and retire to his sister's place so Cora can nurse his sister. This is a great shock to Cora, she does not want to retire. So now they will take steps to plan their future. But the best-laid plans of mice and men still go awry. Accidents are always investigated. The police know what to look for, like Cora's handbag.

    Frank is surprised to hear about the insurance policy on Nick. District Attorney Sackett tries to turn Frank against Cora. Now the courts will decide. There is a shocking surprise at the arraignment, and again when Cora meets Frank. [This is the high point of the film.] Cora's lawyer, Arthur Keats, shows his skills, and we see how a plea bargain works. Keats explains his strategy; it works. Could a restaurant get a lot of business because of the notoriety of the owner? There is a new twist in this story for Cora and Frank. [But they don't want us to tell the ironic ending.] "What's the use?"
    The book is better than the film in explaining the insurance settlement.
    ...more info