The Postman Always Rings Twice


1h 53m 1946
The Postman Always Rings Twice

Brief Synopsis

Illicit lovers plot to kill the woman's older husband.

Photos & Videos

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) - Publicity Stills
The Postman Always Rings Twice - Movie Posters
The Postman Always Rings Twice - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Film Details

Also Known As
Bar-B-Q
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 3 May 1946
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (New York, 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

While hitchhiking to San Diego, drifter Frank Chambers stops at the sleepy Twin Oaks diner, located on a rural road near Los Angeles. Frank accepts a job from Nick Smith, the middle-aged, alcoholic owner of the diner, and is immediately intrigued by Nick's young wife Cora. A furtive romance soon develops between Frank and Cora, and when Nick takes a trip to Los Angeles one day, they decide to elope. The two only travel a short distance, however, as Cora loses hope and decides to return to Twin Oaks. Frank agrees to return with her, and they hurry back to the diner to get there before Nick finds the farewell note that Cora left behind. Determined to continue her romance with Frank and make a better life for herself, Cora convinces Frank that the only way for them to achieve happiness is to kill Nick and collect his insurance money. While Frank stands guard outside the diner, Cora prepares to kill Nick by knocking him unconscious and make his death appear to be a bathtub accident.

The plan goes awry, however, when a cat trips the power lines just as Cora strikes Nick, plunging the diner into darkness and preventing Cora from completing the plan. Fearing that a police officer who stopped by the diner moments before the "accident" may become suspicious, Cora and Frank call an ambulance and rush Nick to a hospital. When Nick regains consciousness, he remembers nothing of the "accident," then tells Cora and Frank that he plans to sell the diner and take Cora with him to live at his sister's home in Santa Barbara. Although Cora protests, Nick firmly tells her that she must care for his semi-invalid sister. Desperate that the move will result in a complete life of drudgery, Cora enlists Frank to devise another plan to kill Nick. After getting Nick drunk, Frank and Cora stage an automobile accident at Malibu Lake, unaware that District Attorney Kyle Sackett has been following them. Though Sackett arrives on the scene too late to save Nick, he is certain that Cora and Frank are the killers.

Without enough concrete evidence to convict Frank and Cora, Sackett tries to pit the two against each other, and tricks Frank into signing an official complaint against Cora, alleging that she tried to kill both him and Nick. Sackett's strategy nearly succeeds when Cora incriminates herself and agrees to sign a full confession. The confession, however, is recorded by Ezra Liam Kennedy, a private detective posing as an official from Sackett's office. Kennedy is in the employ of Cora's attorney, Arthur Keats, who prevents the confession from being read to the court. Keats persuades Cora to settle for a manslaughter charge, and she is later released on probation. Several weeks pass, and Cora and Frank still do not trust each other, but decide to marry, in order to run the diner together and not appear to be living indecently. One day, Cora leaves Twin Oaks to visit her ailing mother in Iowa. During her week-long absence, Frank has an affair with Madge Gorland, a woman he meets at a train station.

Soon after Cora returns, she and Frank are visited by Kennedy, who is no longer employed by Keats and who demands $15,000 in exchange for Cora's signed confession. Cora and Frank manage to overpower Kennedy and destroy the confession. Afterward, Cora tells Frank that she has discovered his affair with Madge, and that she is pregnant. Cora then asks him take her to the beach for a swim in the moonlight and plans to swim far out into the ocean with Frank, then tell him that he can turn back without her. When Cora is finally too exhausted to continue swimming, she tells Frank what she is doing and his reaction makes them both realilze that they love and and trust each other once again. After Frank helps Cora back to shore, the now happy couple drive toward the diner, but Frank loses control of the car and the vehicle careens off the road. Although Frank escapes unhurt, Cora is killed. Frank is then convicted of Cora's murder, and just before his scheduled execution, Sackett comes to see him.

When Frank tells him that he didn't kill Cora and hopes that at the last second she did not think that he did, Sackett reveals that a note left by Cora, which was recently found in the back of the diner's cash register, not only revealed her love for Frank, but inadvertently divulged details of Nick's murder. Realizing that his situation is like that of someone who only receives the mail after the postman rings the doorbell twice, Frank contently heads toward his exection.

Photo Collections

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) - Publicity Stills
Here are some Publicity Stills from The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Postman Always Rings Twice - Movie Posters
Here is a group of American movie posters from The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), starring Lana Turner and John Garfield.
The Postman Always Rings Twice - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Look for director Tay Garnett and stars Lana Turner, John Garfield, and Cecil Kellaway.

Videos

Movie Clip

Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) - Get That Blonde Out Of My System The brief entire brilliant performance by Audrey Totter, herself usually the blonde, as Madge (the Anjelica Huston part in the 1982 Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange and Bob Rafelson remake), just the gal to distract John Garfield (as Frank) from wife Lana Turner (in her landmark performance as waitress, wife and murderous adulteress Cora), who’s left on the train to visit her ailing mother, Hume Cronyn their friendly lawyer, in The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946.
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) - The Original Plan Was Hers Rejoining Frank (John Garfield) and his narration from the James M. Cain novel, providing Cora (Lana Turner) with a bag of ball-bearings to whack her husband in the bathtub, arranging his accidental death, Tay Garnett directing, in The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946.
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) - He's Hooked Frank (John Garfield), newly hired at the roadhouse, narrating after an early rejection by Cora (Lana Turner), then making inroads with her husband, his boss, Nick (Cecil Kellaway), in The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946, from a James M. Cain novel.
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) - Man Wanted Frank (John Garfield) narrating, riding with Sackett (Leon Ames), whom he discovers is the D-A, meeting roadhouse owner Nick (Cecil Kellaway) and his wife Cora (Lana Turner), the famous opening from director Tay Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946.
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946) - Business As Usual Having failed to kill her husband in a staged accident, Cora (Lana Turner) and roadhouse hired-man Frank (John Garfield) return from the hospital, and deal with suspicious D-A Sackett (Leon Ames), in The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Bar-B-Q
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Apr 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 3 May 1946
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain (New York, 1934).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

The Essentials - The Postman Always Rings Twice


SYNOPSIS

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)
BW-113m.

Why THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is Essential

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
The Essentials - The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Essentials - The Postman Always Rings Twice

SYNOPSIS 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) BW-113m. Why THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is Essential 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

Pop Culture 101 - The Postman Always Rings Twice


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 György Fehér 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 (Ildikó Bánsági) and Best Actor (János Derzsi). It was titled Szenvedély, 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

Pop Culture 101 - The Postman Always Rings Twice

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 György Fehér 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 (Ildikó Bánsági) and Best Actor (János Derzsi). It was titled Szenvedély, 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

Trivia - The Postman Always Rings Twice - Trivia & Fun Facts About THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE


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!"

Memorable Quotes from THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE

"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?"
"Yes."
"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

Trivia - The Postman Always Rings Twice - Trivia & Fun Facts About THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE

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!" Memorable Quotes from THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE "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?" "Yes." "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

The Big Idea - The Postman Always Rings Twice


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 Extasé (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

The Big Idea - The Postman Always Rings Twice

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 Extasé (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

Behind the Camera - The Postman Always Rings Twice


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

Behind the Camera - The Postman Always Rings Twice

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

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 Wilson managed 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 of Cora 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

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 Wilson managed 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 of Cora 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

Critics' Corner - The Postman Always Rings Twice


"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

"...it 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

"..one 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

Critics' Corner - The Postman Always Rings Twice

"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 "...it 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 "..one 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

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)


Though 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 (now on DVD from Warners Video) involves drifter Frank Chambers (John Garfield), who conspires with luscious blond Cora Smith (Lana Turner) to murder her husband. In 1945, writer-producer Carey Wilson managed 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 of Cora 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.

The Warner Video DVD of The Postman Always Rings Twice is a fine-looking transfer of the glossy black and white film and includes a few worthwhile extras. The best of the lot is The John Garfield Story, a documentary that originally aired on TCM and features a rich array of clips and interviews with former co-stars of Garfield like Lee Grant, Hume Cronyn and others. Also included are the original theatrical trailer and one for the 1981 remake starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.

For more information about The Postman Always Rings Twice, visit Warner Video. To order The Postman Always Rings Twice, go to TCM Shopping.

by Felicia Feaster

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Though 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 (now on DVD from Warners Video) involves drifter Frank Chambers (John Garfield), who conspires with luscious blond Cora Smith (Lana Turner) to murder her husband. In 1945, writer-producer Carey Wilson managed 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 of Cora 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. The Warner Video DVD of The Postman Always Rings Twice is a fine-looking transfer of the glossy black and white film and includes a few worthwhile extras. The best of the lot is The John Garfield Story, a documentary that originally aired on TCM and features a rich array of clips and interviews with former co-stars of Garfield like Lee Grant, Hume Cronyn and others. Also included are the original theatrical trailer and one for the 1981 remake starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. For more information about The Postman Always Rings Twice, visit Warner Video. To order The Postman Always Rings Twice, go to TCM Shopping. by Felicia Feaster

Quotes

I can sell anything to anybody.
- Frank Chambers
That's what you think.
- Cora Smith

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Bar-B-Q. A January 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that Gregory Peck was considered for the role played by John Garfield. Garfield was borrowed from Warner Bros. for this picture, and Cecil Kellaway was borrowed from Paramount. Some filming took place at a gas station thirty miles southeast of Los Angeles. A biography of Lana Turner notes that the actress once stated that her role in the film was her favorite assignment.
       Material contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library provides the following information about the film: In early February 1934, before James M. Cain's novel was published, a synopsis of his story was submitted to the PCA by RKO executive Merian C. Cooper. After reviewing the synopsis, the PCA persuaded RKO to abandon its plans to film Cain's story, calling it "definitely unsuitable for motion picture production." Columbia and Warner Bros. also expressed interest in the property, but Warner Bros. quickly rejected the story, "fearful that any attempt to get a screen story out of it would end in disaster." An internal memorandum of the Hays Office dated March 9, 1934 indicates that M-G-M production executive Eddie Mannix purchased the rights to the story only "two hours" after the PCA convinced Columbia studio executives to kill their plans to acquire the rights. In the memo, Joseph I. Breen, the Director of the PCA, noted that Columbia and RKO were likely to "set up a squawk the minute they hear Metro has purchased this story, which we persuaded them not to purchase."
       The Breen Office made several impassioned pleas to M-G-M to drop their planned film, warning of the dangers of filming a novel that it called "unwholesome and thoroughly objectionable" in its general theme. Breen later elaborated on his objections, stating that many of the story's elements, including "numerous sexual irregularities," the explicit treatment of criminal acts and the "emphasis upon the dishonesty of the lawyers and representatives of the insurance companies," would prevent the film from gaining the PCA's approval. By April 1934, M-G-M agreed to abandon the property, and it was shelved for six years. In 1939, a short time after the release of a French version of Cain's story, entitled Le Dernier Tournant, Breen stated in a letter to MPPA treasurer Col. Frederick L. Herron that "you will be glad to know that the film is a fairly complete flop. Very few of the critics liked it and I understand that the public hisses it from time to time. Some of this material might be used in defense of our industry when people over there claim that we make mistakes in refusing to permit certain stories to be filmed."
       In early 1940, M-G-M submitted to the PCA a proposed treatment of Cain's novel as outlined by Czechoslovakian director Gustav Machaty and Albert F. Joseph. As indicated in a letter from Breen to Louis B. Mayer, the new treatment did not contain the novel's "adultery or illicit sex," and it would "not be a story about murder." The treatment deviated from the novel in many respects, namely in that no attempt would be made to murder "Nick," that the bathtub scene would be treated as an accident, and that "Frank" and "Cora" would have no guilt in Nick's drunk driving accident. Despite M-G-M's willingness to alter much of Cain's story, Breen wrote Mayer that the material "still continues to be pretty sordid stuff, and questionable from the standpoint of popular entertainment." Machaty and Joseph were not mentioned in conjunction with subsequent versions of the script or story, and the extent of their contribution to the final film has not been determined.
       Various treatments and scripts were submitted by M-G-M to the PCA between 1940 and 1945, and in May 1945, the PCA approved a revised temporary script. In an April 1946 New York Times article, Cain notes that while some "details about sex were omitted," nothing else was changed in the story's adaptation to the screen to win the approval of the PCA. Regional censorship reports contained in the MPAA/PCA file indicate that the film was banned in Indonesia, Switzerland and Spain, and that deletions to the picture were made in other countries.
       Cain adapted his novel for the stage in 1936. The New York production starred Richard Barthelmess, Mary Philips and Joseph Greenwald. Other films based on Cain's novel are: the 1939 French film Le Dernier Tournant, directed by Pierre Chenal and starring Fernand Gravet and Corinne Luchaire; the 1942 Italian film Ossessione, directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Massimo Girotti and Clara Calamai; and the 1981 Lorimar film The Postman Always Rings Twice, directed by Bob Rafelson and starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. The 1942 Italian film, which did not credit Cain or his story, was the subject of an international copyright infringement dispute that resulted in M-G-M's successful lobbying to keep any prints of the film from being shown in the United States. Ossessione has never been released in the United States, and is shown illegally in most parts of the world.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States March 1977

Released in United States on Video May 23, 1989

Released in United States Spring April 1946

Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) July 18, 1988.

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex) as part of program "Femmes Fatales Follow Them at Your Own Risk!" October 5 - December 15, 1996.)

Released in United States March 1977 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Double Vision-Two different classics made from the same story) March 9-27, 1977.)

Released in United States Spring April 1946

Released in United States on Video May 23, 1989