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USA 1946
Directed by
Tay Garnett
108 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946)

Tay Garnett’s version of the James M.Cain  novel is highly regarded by many although I fail to see why. It is a competent rendering of hte siurce material but the Production Code-era characterisations of Frank and Cora are unconvincing and the 1981 Bob Rafaelson version with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange is superior in every respect.

Here John Garfield plays a drifter who stops at an highway gas station and diner owned by fuddy-duddy Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway) who is married to Cora (Lana Turner) a gorgeous platinum blonde who dresses only in pure white. Unsurprisingly the two start an affair and decide to kill Nick so that they can inherit the business.

In true film noir style The Postman Always Knocks Twice has lust and murder, avarice and betrayal aplenty but the main problem is the unconvincing depiction of the relationship between Frank and Cora. Turner is carefully confined within her starlet persona that hardly gels with her character (implausibility of her marital state aside) who might well be sexually alluring but is after all supposed to be working by her husband’s side at the diner/gas station. Equally Garfield’s Frank is far too bland to qualify as her partner in lust and crime. Perhaps this tepidity was a function of the self-imposed censorship of the time but Nicholson and Lange made evident the desperation that is only a distant idea here.

 

 

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