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The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice(1946)

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)


A hitchhiker, Frank Chambers, stops at a diner off the main road to Los Angeles and ends up accepting a job from the owner, Nick Smith. Part of the job's attraction is Nick's young, sexy blonde wife, Cora, who is at first aloof and cool to him. Soon a passionate romance develops between them and they run away together but quickly realize they won't get far without money and return before Nick finds Cora's farewell note. Determined to escape her drab, depressing existence with Nick, Cora suggests to Frank that they kill her husband for his insurance money. A first attempt to murder Nick in the bathtub fails but the second one is more elaborately orchestrated with the illicit couple getting Nick drunk and arranging his death to look like an auto accident. But there are no happy endings in store for Frank and Cora who fall victim to their own guilt and paranoia.

Director: Tay Garnett
Producer: Casey Wilson
Screenplay: Harry Ruskin and Niven Busch
Based on the novel by James M. Cain
Cinematography: Sidney Wagner
Editing: George White
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: George Bassman
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), Morris Ankrum (Judge), Byron Foulger (Picnic Manager), Philip Ahn (Photographer), Betty Blythe (Customer)


With its depiction of a blonde femme fatale (Lana Turner) leading astray a veteran (John Garfield) adrift in a world of corruption, The Postman Always Rings Twice stands as one of the key works in the development of film noir.

The film represents one of the ultimate depictions of doomed love in the film noir genre, making it a major influence on more recent films such as Body Heat (1981), Final Analysis (1992) and The Last Seduction (1994). The final pay-off, in which the protagonist who has escaped punishment for one crime is executed for something he didn't do, turns up again in the Coen Brothers The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).

The success of The Postman Always Rings Twice opened the door for more film noirs at MGM, even though studio head Louis B. Mayer had a distinct dislike for the genre.

The film was a breakthrough in the battle against screen censorship. Although the Production Code Administration had kept James M. Cain's novel off the screen for twelve years, they approved the 1946 picture despite its sizzling love scenes. Shocked fans even insisted the two stars were French kissing on screen.

Garfield's restrained performance marked a turning point in his career, a transition from the kinetic street toughs of early films such as Four Daughters (1938) and Dust Be My Destiny (1939) to the introspective, emotionally distant characters of more mature films like Body and Soul (1947) and Force of Evil (1948).

Lana Turner's portrayal of Cora Smith is her best performance of the '40s and a rare look at what she could do with a solid dramatic role.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is the most famous film from director Tay Garnett, a critics' favorite noted for his pioneering work on sound films such as Her Man (1930) and One Way Passage (1932) and his atmospheric direction of such popular entertainments as China Seas (1935) and Seven Sinners (1940). It also marked the end of his career at MGM, where he refused to renew his contract after years of corporate interference in his work.

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a feast for lovers of character acting, who point to Hume Cronyn and Leon Ames' courtroom scenes as defense attorney and district attorney, respectively, as prime examples of how to steal a film in a small role. Equally popular is Alan Reed, the future voice of Fred Flintstone, as a crooked private eye.

The film marked Audrey Totter's entry into the world of film noir, where she would distinguish herself with femme fatale roles in such movies as Lady in the Lake (1947) and Tension (1949).

by Frank Miller

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Lana Turner's midriff-baring shorts outfit in The Postman Always Rings Twice set a trend for women's fashions in the post-World War II era, bringing in shorts, a trend that never really went out of style.

Turner would always refer to The Postman Always Rings Twice as her favorite film and John Garfield as her favorite co-star. Garfield also considered the film his favorite.

In the new sexual permissiveness of the movie ratings years, director Bob Rafelson re-made the film in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange as the lovers, John Colicos as her husband and Anjelica Huston as the woman who almost lures Nicholson away. Although allegedly shot as an X and cut to win an R rating, the remake prompted many critics to comment that the earlier version was more sexually charged and erotic by showing less but implying more through body language, facial expressions and suggestive dialogue.

Many critics thought Lawrence Kasdan had captured the spirit of James M. Cain's pulp fictions with Body Heat (1981), in which Kathleen Turner seduces crooked lawyer William Hurt into killing her husband (Richard Crenna) so she can collect on his insurance.

One of Lana Turner's scenes from The Postman Always Rings Twice was edited into Carl Reiner's 1982 film noir pastiche Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, starring Steve Martin.

In 1998, Hungarian director Gyrgy Fehr helmed a re-make of The Postman Always Rings Twice in black and white. The film won six awards from Hungarian Film Week, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Ildik Bnsgi) and Best Actor (Jnos Derzsi). It was titled Szenvedly, or "Passion" and played the Montreal, Toronto, Mar del Plata, Thessaloniki, Gothenburg and Istanbul Film Festivals, but has never been released in the U.S.

The title of the Turner-Garfield noir has inspired episode titles for such series as Moonlighting, Spin City and Sex and the City.

The title character played by David Carradine in Quentin Tarantino's two Kill Bill features claims to have been a sucker for blondes ever since seeing Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice.

by Frank Miller

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

There are different versions of how James M. Cain came up with the novel's title. He claimed it was inspired by writer Vincent Lawrence. When the manuscript was being rejected by publishers, Lawrence told him how he had mailed out his first play and sat by the window waiting for a letter accepting it until he realized that the postman always rang twice. Cain biographer Roy Hoopes supports this story and also mentioned that the title reflects an old English or Irish folk saying about postmen.

Others have suggested the title of Cain's novel was inspired by the notorious Ruth Snyder case of the '20s, which may have inspired the author's plot as well. Snyder convinced her lover, Judd Gray, that her husband was physically abusive, thereby getting Gray to kill the man. She had also secretly taken out a life insurance policy on her husband, but had instructed the postman to ring twice when delivering the payment notices.

The working title of The Postman Always Rings Twice was Bar-B-Q.

The Postman Always Rings Twice made $3,875,000 at the box office,

When MGM publicity released photos of Lana Turner and John Garfield's love scene on the beach, they got complaints from the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America about the film's sexual tone.

Early Oscar® predictions for 1946 indicated that John Garfield would be a shoo-in for an Academy Award nomination for his performance in The Postman Always Rings Twice. The film's May release date may have worked against him however. By the time ballots went out for nominations in the late Fall, his performance had been forgotten, despite the movie's box office success.

Natural blonde Audrey Totter (who was of Austrian and Swedish descent) had to darken her hair for her small role in the film to avoid any confusion with leading lady Lana Turner.

To offset any bad publicity over the sexual nature of her role, MGM's publicity department arranged to have Turner photographed on the set with her two-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane and even had her take the child to the picture's New York City premiere.

At the wrap party for The Postman Always Rings Twice, Turner gave director Tay Garnett a fur-lined jock strap as a thank you for making the sex-charged film in such a tasteful manner. In presenting it, she said, "Don't let anyone say you don't go first class" (from Light Your Torches and Pull Up Your Tights by Tay Garnett).

Despite winning the approval of the Production Code Administration, The Postman Always Rings Twice was banned in Indonesia, Switzerland and Spain.

"It was a real chore to do Postman under the Hays Office, but I think I managed to get the sex across."
- Tay Garnett

MGM sold the film with the tagline "Their Love Was a Flame That Destroyed!"


"It was on a side road outside of Los Angeles. I was hitchhiking from San Francisco down to San Diego. I guess. A half hour earlier, I'd thumbed a ride." -- John Garfield, as Frank Chambers, delivering the film's opening narration.

"Well, I've never liked any job I've ever had. Maybe the next one is the one I've always been looking for."
"Not worried about your future?"
"Oh, I've got plenty of time for that. Besides, maybe my future starts right now." -- Garfield, as Frank Chambers, confessing his rootlessness to Leon Ames, as District Attorney Kyle Sackett.

"My feet. They keep itchin' for me to go places." -- Garfield, as Frank, delivering a recurring description of himself.

"You dropped this?" -- Garfield, meeting Lana Turner, as Cora Smith, for the first time and picking up her lipstick.

"I could sell anything to anybody."
"That's what you think." -- Garfield, trying to impress Turner, as Cora Smith.

"Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing. But stealing his car, that's larceny." -- Garfield, explaining why he and Turner, as Cora, have to run off together on foot.

"I want to be somebody. And if I walk out like this, I'll lose everything, and I'll never be anybody. Oh, I love you, Frank, and I want you, but not this way. Not starting out like a couple of tramps. I'm going back." -- Turner, deciding to return to Cecil Kellaway, as Nick Smith.

"Do you love me so much that nothing else matters?"
"There's, there's one thing we could do that would fix everything for us." -- Turner, first bringing up murder as a solution to her and Garfield's problems.

"But they'd hang you for a thing like that."
"Oh, not if we did it right, and you're smart, Frank. You'll think of a way. Plenty of men have." -- Garfield and Turner, debating the wisdom of murder.

"Now we can just breathe again for a minute."
"Just think. A week. A whole week to work things out."
"Will you give me a big kiss before I sock you." -- Garfield and Turner discovering that Kellaway, as Nick Smith, will be in the hospital a week after their failed murder attempt.

"It's you or her. If you didn't have anything to do with killing Nick Smith, you'd better sign this because if you don't, I'll know and so will the judge. And so will the jury. And so will that guy that gives you the business in the poison gas chamber in San Quentin. And so will the boys who bury you out there alongside all the others who were too dumb to make a deal while they still had a chance to save their necks." -- Ames, as Kyle Sackett, trying to get Garfield to testify against Turner.

"If the insurance company with the smartest detectives in the world couldn't find any evidence of murder, then it's a cinch that the DA couldn't." -- Hume Cronyn, as Arthur Keats, explaining his courtroom victory.

"I'm gonna frame it and hang it right over my desk." -- Cronyn, as Arthur Keats, on the $100 bet he won against Ames, as Sackett, for winning the case.

"Cora, Cora, look. Maybe, maybe you could sell the place and we can go away somewhere and start fresh, where nobody knows us."
"Oh, no! You've been trying to make a tramp out of me ever since you've known me. But you're not going to do it. I stay here." -- Garfield, still trying to get Turner to run off with him.

"I can only think of fifteen or twenty reasons why you two should never be happy." -- Cronyn, as Keats, congratulating Garfield and Turner on their marriage.

"I'm going to wait standing up. It's a hot day and that's a leather seat. And I've got on a thin skirt." -- Audrey Totter, as Madge Gorland, resisting or coming on to Garfield, after he offers to help her with her car trouble.

"I'll bet you got a little gypsy in you."
"They say I was born with rings in my ears." -- Garfield, flirting with Totter, as Madge Gorland.

"We, we took a life, didn't we, Frank? Well now, don't you see, we can give one back. And then maybe God will forgive us and maybe it will help square us." -- Turner, announcing she's pregnant.

"All the hate and revenge has left me, but is it all out of you?"
"I've been tryin' to find some way to prove it to ya."
"Maybe I know a way. Let's swim out there, way, way out. Until we're so tired we'll just barely be able to get back." -- Turner, trying to make things better with Garfield.

"When we get home, Frank, then there'll be kisses, kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death." -- Turner, dreaming of her new life with Garfield.

"You know, there's something about this which is like, well, it's like you're expectin' a letter that you're just crazy to get, and you hang around the front door for fear you might not hear him ring. You never realize that he always rings twice...The truth is, you always hear him ring the second time, even if you're way out in the back yard." -- Garfield, explaining the title.

"Father, would you send up a prayer for me and Cora and, if you can find it in your heart, make it that we're together, wherever it is?" -- Garfield's last words.

Compiled by Frank Miller

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice was James M. Cain's first crime novel. It was rejected by 13 publishers, mainly because of its sexual content, but when Alfred A. Knopf's wife convinced him to pick it up, it became a bestseller.

Prior to publication, MGM offered Cain $5,000 for the screen rights, but he decided to hold out to see how the book sold first. The choice proved a wise one.

Before the book came out, RKO executive Merian C. Cooper sent the manuscript to the Production Code Administration to see if it was suitable for screen adaptation. The PCA notified him that the story was probably unfilmable and he gave the same response to executives from Columbia and Warner Bros.

MGM picked up the film rights for $25,000 in 1934 without consulting the PCA. After several memos from new PCA head Joseph Breen, they decided not to proceed with plans for a film version. In particular, Breen objected to the implications that Frank and Cora shared a sado-masochistic relationship. He also noted the detailed depiction of their plot to kill Cora's husband and the depiction of the dishonest lawyers and insurance investigators involved in the murder case.

Hoping to soften up the PCA, MGM financed a stage adaptation of Postman by Cain in 1936. The production starred Mary Phillips as Cora and former film star Richard Barthelmess as Frank. The young Joseph Cotten played a police officer. The production lasted just 72 performances and was never revived.

A French film adaptation of Postman appeared in 1939 under the title, Le Derniere Tournant, "The Last Turn." It starred Fernand Gravey as Frank, Corinne Luchaire as Cora and Michel Simon as her husband. Pierre Chenal directed. The film was a commercial failure and has never played in the U.S.

In l943, Italian director Luchino Visconti directed and co-wrote an unauthorized adaptation under the title Ossessione. Massimo Girotti and Clara Calamai starred as the illicit lovers. Although critically acclaimed as one of the first "Neorealist" films, it was barred from distribution in the U.S. by the Cain estate and MGM until it was screened at the New York Film Festival in 1976, prior to a limited release here in 1977.

In 1940, MGM sent the PCA a story treatment prepared partly by Gustav Machaty, director of the notorious Czech film Extas (1933). The new version omitted the sado-masochistic affair and had Cora's husband die by accident. Breen still considered it too sordid for the screen and production plans were dropped once again.

Paramount considered taking the story off MGM's hands in 1943 until they looked at the formidable correspondence file with Breen's comments.

When Billy Wilder passed the censors and scored a hit with Cain's previously unfilmable Double Indemnity (1944), Hollywood started looking for other properties to bring to the screen. Jerry Wald at Warner Bros. put Mildred Pierce (1945) into production, and Casey Wilson at MGM, who had produced several of the family-oriented Andy Hardy films, started working on The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Wilson planned The Postman Always Rings Twice as a vehicle for Lana Turner, who had risen to stardom at MGM in a series of roles capitalizing on her beauty and sex appeal. When she expressed fears about how the public would react to her in such a villainous role, studio head Louis B. Mayer convinced her that she needed to expand her image into more dramatic parts.

In May 1945, the PCA finally approved a script that removed the story's sado-masochistic elements. It also threw heavy emphasis on Frank and Cora's guilt, their inability to enjoy their life together after killing her husband and the just nature of their deaths at the end. Although the lawyers were as corrupt as they were in the original, the insurance investigator became a private eye. In addition, the script suggested that Cora and Frank fell in love before beginning their affair. Nonetheless, the PCA's approval represented a loosening of restrictions on sexuality in Hollywood films.

The role of Frank Chambers was originally offered to Joel McCrea, who turned it down.

MGM casting director Billy Grady had tried to interest John Garfield in the male lead opposite Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls (1946), but the actor had said no. When McCrea refused to appear in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Grady thought Garfield would be perfect in the role.

Production delays on Humoresque (1946), Garfield's next film at his home studio Warner Bros., made the studio amenable to the loan to MGM, particularly since Garfield found the role of Frank Chambers much more suitable.

At some point in the casting process of The Postman Always Rings Twice, MGM considered casting Gregory Peck in the lead.

At the last minute, however, Garfield almost had to pull out of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Toward the end of World War II, he was drafted, and director Tay Garnett considered casting MGM contract player Cameron Mitchell in the lead. Garfield was ruled 4F, however, because of his age and heart problems and was back at work in time to star in the film. Garnett was shocked to see him playing handball a few days after and asked him to lay off, at least until the film had been completed.

Partly as a sop to the censors, Garnett decided to dress Turner almost entirely in white. As he explained later, "There was a problem getting any story with that much sex past the censors. We figured that dressing Lana in white somehow made everything she did less sensuous. It was also attractive as hell...They didn't have 'hot pants' then, but you couldn't tell it by looking at hers." (from Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth).

Another move to appease Breen was Wilson's decision to make Cora's husband more sympathetic, thereby avoiding any suggestion that the affair and murder were justified by his behavior. To avoid offending Greek immigrants, and America's recent allies during World War II, the character lost his ethnic background, and his name was changed from Papadakis to Smith. That opened the door to the casting of Cecil Kellaway, borrowed from Paramount, who gave one of his best performances as the unsuspecting spouse.

by Frank Miller

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The on-set sexual tension between John Garfield and Lana Turner was clear to all involved with the making of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Their first day together, he called out to her, "Hey, Lana, how's about a little quickie?" to which she replied "You bastard!" (from Body and Soul: The Story of John Garfield by Larry Swindell).

Director Tay Garnett wanted to shoot in as many actual locations as possible for the movie, a rarity for MGM at the time. For the seaside love scenes, he took the cast and crew to Laguna Beach, where a fog made shooting impossible for days. After a few days, they moved to San Clemente in search of clearer skies, only to have fog roll in there as well. Then word got to them that the fog had lifted at Laguna Beach. By the time they got back there, however, it had returned.

The strain of waiting for the fog to lift caused the director, who had suffered from drinking problems in the past, to fall off the wagon. Garnett holed himself up in his hotel room, where nobody could get him to stop drinking. Concerned about rumors that he was going to be replaced, Garfield and Turner decided to visit him on their own. Garfield could get nowhere with him, but Turner managed to convince him to go back to Los Angeles for treatment. When he returned a week later, the fog lifted, and they all went back to work.

Another result of the location delays was a brief affair between Garfield and Turner, according to Garfield's friend, Warner Bros. director Vincent Sherman. He said Turner was the only co-star with whom Garfield ever became romantically involved. There had been sparks between the two since the first day of shooting, and the delays had sparked a close friendship. Finally, they shared a moonlit tryst on the beach but that was their only night together. The two realized that whatever was happening on-screen, off-screen they had no sexual chemistry together. They remained friends nonetheless.

As originally written in Cain's novel, Madge (Audrey Totter), the woman who briefly lures Garfield away from Turner, was a lion tamer. Garnett even filmed the scene in which she introduces Garfield to her cats. During shooting, a tiger sprayed the two stars, prompting Garfield to jokingly ask for stunt pay.

The sneak preview of The Postman Always Rings Twice was a disaster, particularly the scenes in which Totter shows Garfield her collection of trained cats. James M. Cain was so embarrassed he crawled out of the screening to avoid producer Casey Wilson.

Totter's scenes were salvaged in re-takes which removed the trained cats footage and changed her character to a hash-house waitress.

Cain was so impressed with Turner's performance he presented her with a leather-bound copy of the book inscribed, "For my dear Lana, thank you for giving a performance that was even finer than I expected."

by Frank Miller

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teaser The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Although MGM secured the rights to pulp novelist James M. Cain's hard-bitten murder romance, The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1934, it wasn't until 12 years later that the film finally made it to the screen. A notoriously nasty story, rife with sexual intrigue, Postman involves drifter Frank Chambers (John Garfield), who conspires with luscious blond Cora Smith (Lana Turner) to murder her husband. In 1945, writer-producer Carey Wilsonmanaged to adapt a script that would pass by the censorious Hays Administration. But director Tay Garnett's film still bristles with an electric undercurrent of sexual tension thanks to the steamy performances and palpable chemistry between Garfield and Turner, who some said enjoyed a brief romance on the set.

Setting the stakes of Cain's lust-stoked film, and offering one of the most memorable images in film history, Cora is introduced in the film through Frank's eyes as he scans from a memorable pair of gams wrapped in a pair of white shorts (the scene significantly upped the popularity of that revealing garment) up to her face. That first glimpse of the married Mrs. Smith convinces Frank, a drifter who has stumbled upon the Smiths' Twin Oaks restaurant along the highway, to stay on as a handyman. Frank immediately sees there is no love, and certainly no passion left in the marriage of convenience between Cora and bumbling restaurant owner Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). Before too long, the pair are conspiring to murder Nick, but as in most murder-oriented films noir, the best laid plans tend to unravel even before they get started.

Director Garnett managed to tone down some of the sex in Cain's novel with tricks like dressing Turner all in virginal white. But even that timid color scheme only seemed to enhance Turner's platinum beauty and siren charms in a role she later called her favorite and film history has remembered as one of her best. Turner was a Hollywood sensation at the time of Postman's release - the subject of songs, comic book stories and comedy routines, one of WWII's favorite pin-ups and a certifiable bombshell who helped make Postman both a critical success and a popular hit. And Garfield, who'd often played a cynical, defiant rebel, brought newfound subtlety to his role as the love-drunk Frank who finds even his drifter's yearning for the open road diminished under the influence of the powerful aphrodisiac ofCora Smith.

In typical noir fashion, it's not just the lovers scheming murder who display a hazy morality in Postman. The world itself is thoroughly corrupt in this sordid thriller, as seen in the double-crosses and trickery used against the lovers by a sleazy defense attorney (played with reptilian finesse by Hume Cronyn), a conniving district attorney (Leon Ames) and a corrupt former cop (Alan Reed, who would later provide the voice of Fred Flintstone in the popular cartoon) who tries to blackmail the guilty pair.

Though the time period of its making and its gloss of amorality mark Postman as a film noir, it lacks some of the shadowy ambiance characteristic of the genre. Instead, it is in the twisting, torturous path that Cora and Frank take on their march to murder and their often brutal interactions with the law and each other as their botched homicide unfolds that gives the film its nasty, noir component.

Director: Tay Garnett
Producer: Carey Wilson
Screenplay: Harry Ruskin, Niven Busch, based on the novel by James M. Cain
Cinematography: Sidney Wagner
Editor: George White
Art Direction: Randall Duell, Cedric Gibbons
Music: George Bassman, Neil Moret (uncredited), Richard A. Whiting (uncredited), Eric Zeisl (uncredited)
Cast: Lana Turner (Cora Smith), John Garfield (Frank Chambers), Cecil Kellaway (Nick Smith), Hume Cronyn (Arthur Keats), Leon Ames (DA Kyle Sackett), Audrey Totter (Madge Garland)
BW-114m. Close captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Felicia Feaster

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

"It is pleasing to see a story that was held at arm's length for ten years finally come in as a picture which is not only 'moral' but brilliant to boot...The lesson is, we would proffer, that a film need not be obscene in order to give a comprehension of a carnal and sordid side of life."
- Bosley Crowther, the New York Times.

"One of the astonishing excellences of this picture is the performance to which Lana Turner has been inspired....if it is possible not to be dazzled by that baby beauty and pile of taffy hair, you may agree that she is now beginning to roll in the annual actress' sweepstakes."
- Alton Cook, the New York World-Telegram.

"Entertaining, though overlong. The director, Tay Garnett, knew almost enough tricks to sustain this glossily bowdlerized version of the James M. Cain novel, and he used Lana Turner maybe better than any other director did. Cain's women are, typically, calculating, hot little animals, and his men doom-ridden victims. Here, Lana Turner's Cora -- infantile in a bored, helpless, pre-moral way -- is dressed in impeccable white, as if to conceal her sweaty passions and murderous impulses...."
- Pauline Kael, 5,001 Nights at the Movies.

"The Postman Always Rings Twice is mainly a terrible misfortune from start to finish. I except chiefly the shrewd performances of Hume Cronyn and Leon Ames, as lawyers. I say it with all respect for the director, Tay Garnett, and with all sympathy for the stars, Lana Turner and Garfield. It looks to have been made in a depth of seriousness incompatible with the material, complicated by a paralysis of fear from the front office. It is, however, very interesting for just those reasons it is what can happen, especially in Hollywood, if you are forced to try both to eat your cake and have it, and don't realize that it is, after all, only good pumpernickel."
- James Agee

"Evil and corruption lie just below the surface of the mundane in The Postman Always Rings Twice...James M. Cain's novel of treachery and murder becomes a classic vision of the noir films' ability to depict amour fou, a love which goes beyond the bounds of normal relationships."
- Ellen Keneshea & Carl Macek, Film Noir: An Encyclopedia Reference to the American Style

"Tay Garnett's adaptation of the sordid story of adultery and murder gave American parochial justice a grim touch of truth, in spite of lapsing into a sentimental ending."
- The Oxford Companion to Film

"Development of the characters makes Tay Garnett's direction seem slowly paced during the first part of the picture, but this establishment was necessary to give the speed and punch to the uncompromising evil that transpires...The writing is terse and natural to the characters and events that transpire."
- Variety

"Garfield and Turner ignite the screen in this bristling drama...the film packs a real punch and outshines the more explicit 1981 remake."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

" is hard to believe that a more accomplished actress [than Turner] could have expressed so much about the uneasy pursuit of respectability."
- David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

"Pale shadow of Double Indemnity [1944], efficient but not interesting or very suspenseful."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"...The plot gathers slack latterly; but this is only a minor flaw in a film, more grey than noir, whose strength is that it is cast as a bleak memory in which, from the far side of paradise, a condemned man surveys the age-old trail through sex, love and disillusionment."
-Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide

" of the best film noirs of all time - and one of the earliest prototypes of today's 'erotic thrillers.'
- Tim Dirks, The Greatest Films

"This film version of The Postman Always Rings Twice retains the convoluted turns of Cain's plot, but already seems a derivative retelling of stock elements, instead of ground zero for the classic noir femme fatale saga."
- Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant

Compiled by Frank Miller

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