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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

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


Bob Rafelson


James M. Cain (novel), David Mamet (screenplay)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Frank Chambers
Jessica Lange ... Cora Papadakis
John Colicos ... Nick Papadakis
Michael Lerner ... Mr. Katz
John P. Ryan ... Kennedy
Anjelica Huston ... Madge
William Traylor William Traylor ... Sackett
Thomas Hill Thomas Hill ... Barlow (as Tom Hill)
Jon Van Ness ... Motorcycle Cop
Brian Farrell Brian Farrell ... Mortenson
Raleigh Bond Raleigh Bond ... Insurance Salesman
William Newman ... Man from Home Town
Albert Henderson Albert Henderson ... Art Beeman
Ken Magee Ken Magee ... Scoutmaster
Eugene Peterson Eugene Peterson ... Doctor


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 <clarkec@topaz.cqu.edu.au>

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:

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USA | West Germany


English | Greek

Release Date:

20 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El cartero llama dos veces See more »


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This is one of two film versions of Cain's novel that is now owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment, which acquired the film through its 1989 purchase of Lorimar. Warner Brothers also owns the 1946 MGM version, which was part of the pre-1986 MGM library acquired by Turner Entertainment in 1986 (which merged with Warner Brothers in 1996). MGM was responsible for the first video release of the 1981 version, through its joint venture with CBS, MGM/CBS Home Video, which held the video rights to Lorimar's library at the time. When CBS left the MGM joint venture (reorganized as MGM/UA Home Video) to team up with 20th Century Fox, it took the Lorimar video rights with them. See more »


(at around 1h 35 mins) When Cora walks to the door of the café after coming back from her mother's, her zipper and zipper pull show. What we see is an "invisible" zipper which were not invented until the early 1960's. See more »


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


Featured in Best! Movies! Ever!: Sex Scenes (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

What happened here?
22 November 2000 | by verna55See all my reviews

There are so many problems with this dull, listless filmization of the James M. Cain classic, where does one begin? Well, let's start from the beginning. It tries to compete with the great 1946 version. How do you top a film as brilliant as that? The answer is, you don't! Even if this new version does follow the original novel more closely, who cares? As the tragic, plotting lovers, Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, so they generate very little heat in their allegedly steamy sex scenes. It's as if the filmmakers were so aware of the miscasting that they tried to disguise this by making the sex scenes between the duo more erotic, meaning more explicit. BIG MISTAKE! This just makes the lack of chemistry even more painfully obvious, and the sex scenes rather silly. Despite having virtually nothing in common, Nicholson and Lange can't keep their hands off of each other and do a lot of huffing and puffing. They go at it like two wild animals in heat, but this does little to make the film any more watchable or entertaining. Yes, Lange is even more breathtakingly beautiful than usual, and she brings more intensity and depth to the role than the script really required. But, whether she knows it or not, Nicholson is a constant thorn in her side. Sure, Jack is a great actor too, but, even though his character is a plotting murderer, there was a romantic edge to the role when John Garfield played it in 1946, and Nicholson does not have one bit of that romanticism. I still kringe when I think of him as the love interest in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. How did he ever get to be cast in parts like that? Stay as clear from this as possible and settle only for the untoppable original.

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