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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  20 March 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 15,643 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 32 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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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


In the heat of passion two things can happen. The second is murder. 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Apparently, James M. Cain's publishers kept Ossessione (1943), the second version of "The Postman Always Rings Twice", off American screens until 1976 which was only five years before this 1981 movie was made and released. 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 »


Cora: I'm getting tired of what's right and wrong.
Frank Chambers: They hang people for that, Cora!
See more »


Version of Le dernier tournant (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Bitter Disappointment
15 February 2013 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

** (out of 4)

Considering the talent in front of and behind the camera, there's really no way to look at this adaptation of the James M. Cain novel as anything but a disappointment. In the film, Jack Nicholson plays drifter Frank Chambers who enters the lives of Cora (Jessica Lange) and her much older husband Nick (John Colicos). Soon the drifter and Cora start up a sexual relationship, which leads to them planning the murder of the husband. This here would be the fourth version of the classic story and the second one filmed in America. Unlike the previous versions, director Bob Rafelson didn't have to worry about censors but even so this version isn't nearly as hot as the earlier one with Lana Turner. Outside a rather intense sex scene towards the start of the picture, this thing really never takes off, which is too bad because they've got a terrific cast and some beautiful settings but in the end the film is just flat. I think the first forty- five minutes are the best thing in the film as we see the love triangle set up and there's no question that the director has the look of the era down perfectly. I thought the setting really added a lot of atmosphere but sadly very little else happens. Nicholson was the perfect choice to play a drifter but the screenplay really doesn't give him too much to work with. Lange is clearly the best thing in the movie as she delivers a sexual charge to the thing. Colicos is also extremely good as the husband in a strong supporting performance. What really hurts the film is the second half because the director never really makes us believe or feel anything for the two leads. Are we supposed to hate them for what they've done? Are we supposed to be rooting for them to get away with the murder and live happily ever after? The entire second half of the film features way too many dialogue scenes that lead no where and in the end the "romance" that starts to bloom towards the end just never fully works. The film isn't nearly as bad as its reputation but at the same time there's no question that it's a major disappointment and a bitter feeling takes over when you think about what could have been.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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