The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  20 March 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 15,819 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 33 critic

The sensuous wife of a lunch wagon proprietor and a rootless drifter begin a sordidly steamy affair and conspire to murder her Greek husband.



(novel), (screenplay)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Director: Jack Nicholson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Lloyd


Cast overview, first billed only:
William Traylor ...
Thomas Hill ...
Barlow (as Tom Hill)
Motorcycle Cop
Brian Farrell ...
Raleigh Bond ...
Insurance Salesman
William Newman ...
Man from Home Town
Albert Henderson ...
Art Beeman
Ken Magee ...
Eugene Peterson ...


This remake of the 1946 movie of the same name accounts an affair between a seedy drifter and a seductive wife of a roadside café owner. This begins a chain of events that culminates in murder. Written by Craig Clarke <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You Will Feel The Heat. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El cartero siempre llama dos veces  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 3,841,156 (Sweden)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Meryl Streep rejected the part of Cora. See more »


Mr. Katz pencil moved from the left side to the right side of his pocket when he and Chambers talked in the basement of the courthouse. See more »


Frank Chambers: Now, you got this on the dash. And you don't know where you got this.
[Frank to Cora as he is hitting her to stage the auto crash injuries]
See more »


Referenced in Spin City: The Doorman Always Rings Twice (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Grubby film noir
25 July 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This novel adaptation was the second after a first movie in the 1940s. This one retains the period setting but ups the ante in terms of sexual content, featuring one of the most explicit sex scenes ever shown in a mainstream film which goes far further than any film before - or since.

The plot is simple in the extreme: the wife of a Greek man who runs his own diner, bored and neglected by her husband, begins a torrid affair with a drifter her husband employs as his mechanic. From there on in, the story gradually develops in often fascinating ways as the two lovers realise that only one thing's stopping their happiness: her husband.

The film is shot through with a grim and gritty emphasis, best realised by Nicholson's grubby mechanic. He's nobody's idea of a sex symbol, although Jessica Lange is quite ravishing as the object of his attentions. This focus on realism over Hollywood fantasy is what makes the film so watchable and, in places, uncomfortable as it becomes clear that the lovers have something of a sado-masochistic relationship.

Things move into courtroom-drama territory later on (featuring some terrific acting work from Michael Lerner as the lawyer) whilst handing a number of blink-and-you'll-miss-em minor parts to familiar faces (John P. Ryan as a blackmailer, Angelica Houston as - bizarrely - a circus owner, cult favourite Don Calfa as a circus hand, Brion James as a thug and Christopher Lloyd as a salsman).

I found the film to be sometimes compelling and never boring. It's one of those films you watch to find out just what happens to the central characters, a curiosity bolstered by the feeling that they're never going to unentangle themselves from this mess. Come the surprise climax,'ll have to see for yourself.

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Intense sexual scene between Jack and Jessica! elizalisa
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