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Friday Film Noir: ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ is a tantalizingly messy affair

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Directed by Tay Garnett

Written by Harry Ruskin and Niven Busch (screenplay), based on James M. Cain’s novel

U.S.A., 1946

Movies provide escapism in most cases, save perhaps for the most ardent art house devotees. They can operate as complete fantasies or slightly heightened extensions of our own reality. In the latter case, the films might try to represent ideas and themes about who people are and our collective lot in life. Within this category can be found two sub-sections, the first being movies that play things in tidier fashion, the second being those which hold an appreciation for the often muddled psychology and moral ambiguity that is so pervasive in human behaviour. Noir excels at this, but of all the noirs ever made, few are as good at tackling the subject as Tay Garnett’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Frank (John Garfield
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Blu-ray Release: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 and 1981)

Blu-ray Release Date: Nov. 13, 2012

Price: Blu-ray $19.98 each

Studio: Warner Home Video

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

Just like both versions of I Spit On Your Grave arrived on Blu-ray at the same time, both the 1946 and 1981 versions of The Postman Always Rings Twice got the same treatment.

The first adaptation of James M. Cain‘s novel stars Lana Turner (The Bad and the Beautiful) and John Garfield (Gentleman’s Agreement) as a married woman and a drifter who fall in love then conspire to murder the woman’s husband. Of course, there are always consequences.

Tay Garnett (The Delta Factor) directed the 1946 film, which was written by Harry Ruskin (The Great Guy) and Niven Busch (Duel in the Sun).

The 1981 version was directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) from a script by thriller guru David Mamet (TV’s The Unit). Jack Nicholson (Chinatown) and Jessica Lange (Cape Fear) took over the starring duties,
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Jean Harlow @ 100

  • MUBI
"MGM writer Harry Ruskin recalled: 'The day "the baby" died there wasn't one sound in the commissary for three hours... not one goddamn sound.'" That's from Dina-Marie Kulzer's overview of a life cut short in 1937 by kidney failure. Jean Harlow was all of 26, but she'd appeared in 36 films and — a first for any movie actress — on the cover of Life. She would have turned 100 today and to celebrate, the Kitty Packard Pictorial is hosting a rich and varied blogathon running through Sunday. Do go and explore.

By the way, out this week from Warner Home Video and TCM's new series of four-title DVD packages is TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Jean Harlow, featuring Dinner at Eight (1933), Libeled Lady (1936), China Seas (1935) and Wife Vs Secretary (1936). TCM also wants Angelenos to know that on Sunday, Darrell Rooney and Mark A Vieira, authors of Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital,
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