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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

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A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband. Once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.

Director:

Tay Garnett

Writers:

Harry Ruskin (screen play), Niven Busch (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lana Turner ... Cora Smith
John Garfield ... Frank Chambers
Cecil Kellaway ... Nick Smith
Hume Cronyn ... Arthur Keats
Leon Ames ... Kyle Sackett
Audrey Totter ... Madge Gorland
Alan Reed ... Ezra Liam Kennedy
Jeff York ... Blair
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Storyline

Nick Smith, the middle-aged proprietor of a roadside restaurant, hires drifter Frank Chambers as a handyman. Frank eventually begins an affair with Nick's beautiful wife Cora, who talks Frank into helping her kill Nick, by "accident." But the best laid plans...... Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Book that Blazed to Best-Seller Fame! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1946 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Bar-B-Q See more »

Filming Locations:

Laguna Beach, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,683,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,330,000, 31 December 1946

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,086,000, 31 December 1946
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 16, 1947 with Lana Turner and John Garfield reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

When Frank and Cora first leave Nick, Cora falls in the dirt to avoid being hit by a car. All she lands on is her bottom. But the dirt keeps changing its location in different shots, being sometimes on her shoulders, on the front of her skirt, completely gone when she sits on the suitcase, then obviously applied to her bottom as they are returning to the diner. See more »

Quotes

Cora Smith: I want to make something of this place, I want to make it into an honest-to-goodness...
Frank Chambers: Well, aren't we ambitious.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Ending credits are shown over the hardcover book of the same name. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years at the Movies (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

She's Funny That Way
(1928) (uncredited)
Music by Neil Moret
Lyrics by Richard A. Whiting
Played on guitar and Sung by Cecil Kellaway
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Slightly Softened from Cain's 1930's Novel but Still Holds Its Own as a Noir Classic
27 April 2008 | by classicalsteveSee all my reviews

The original book published in 1934 by James M. Cain (author of "Double Indemnity") was a gritty unsentimental story of a low-class drifter and bum, Frank, who is taken in by a German immigrant, Nick, who owns a roadside café and his beautiful wife, Cora, who turns out to be much darker on the inside than the facade of her pure white skin. Cora, we learn, is dissatisfied with her life married to this older immigrant and the drifter becomes her catalyst to change her situation. The movie adaption of twelve years later is a slightly sentimentalized version of Cain's noir classic. That said, the movie still holds its own as a noir tale of betrayal and murder, but doesn't quite have the edge of Billy Wilder's adaption of "Double Indemnity".

Still, the movie works very well under its own terms, particularly because of the outstanding chemistry between the leads John Garfield and Lana Turner. In fact, the star of the show is really Turner who turns in a tour-de-force performance. Turner continually shows us the many faces of her character Cora Smith who is sometimes weak and vulnerable and other times resolute and stubborn, even unsympathetic, and yet oozing with unrealized sexuality. We gather that Cora is no ordinary woman, or at least not the soft sentimental Doris Day type. More like a cross between Eva Peron and Madonna. Sometimes hard and mean and other times sweet and feminine, she is the complex epitome of the Cain femme fatale of this era. She remains enigmatic from beginning to end which is I think what Cain would have wanted. Garfield, in probably the role of his career, is equally superb, at first rejecting the murder scheme and then later embracing it. Although lacking the enigmatic complexity of Cora, Frank is equally ambiguous and ambivalent to his life choices, and Garfield well conveys the multi-sidedness of Frank.

The story concerns a young man looking for work, finds a roadside café up a few hours north of Los Angeles, probably up the 101 freeway, and becomes the hired help. He is employed by Nick, a simple German-stock older-than-middle-age man, who simply wants to make enough money to be comfortable and occasionally play his little guitar. His wife, Cora, is about 40 years younger and wants to make something of their café instead of just eking out a meager living. But fleeing with Nick and beginning from ground zero is not what she wants. She would like to have the café and make something of it. And when the hired help Frank falls for her, she realizes he is the perfect means to get both of them out of their hellish existence.

A fine example of 1940's film noir with many of the stylistic considerations, such as the camera panning from feet-to-face when we first meet the woman Cora, the many unexpected twists and turns, and of course the dark desires of the leads. Every series of scenes leaves you guessing as to what will happen next. A couple of scenes were contrived that were superfluous to the book. Unfortunately, the film suffers slightly because of the stringent ethics codes that started to be imposed on films of that time. Probably film noir offerings suffered more than most because of their probing the darker sides of human nature. However, Postman still ranks as classic film noir.


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