The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
"The Postman Always Rings Twice" is what we would call an erotic thriller if we were living in the 1940s. Though nary a thigh or much of a midriff is bared, the sexually charged movie does its very best to make everything drip with seduction and sweat until the entire film feels like its plastered onto the screen with fantasies instead of projection. Okay, so maybe it's not that hot and in light of more recent movies like "Body Heat" I would say that it's just not that erotic; but it tries its best.
The movie begins as Frank Chambers (John Garfield) happens upon a little burger joint in the middle of a small town. He's been hitchhiking and unwittingly takes a ride with the district attorney before seeing a "help needed" sign and deciding to rest his itching feet for a few months. Frank has the travel bug, he doesn't like to settle down anywhere for longer than a period of time in which no commitment can be given. But he knows this about himself and he tells everyone that he meets, as if he's not trying to get involved...and yet, you guessed it, that's right where the story takes him.
The burger place is called Twin Oaks and it's owned by a rather affable drunk named Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway) who immediately puts Frank to work. Not crazy about how things are starting to head towards a commitment, Frank starts to back out until he sees the thing that makes him stay: Cora Smith (Lana Turner).
As far as blonde seductresses go, Cora seems to be at the peak of cinematic history, mainly because she is never, ever given a heart and yet it's so easy to empathize with her. Her Achilles' heel is found in the form of greed for fame. She is often heard saying something similar to: "I'll make something out of myself." Yet she isn't picky with how she does this and the only thing that she manages to have her hands on that will launch her into stardom or the like is Twin Oaks...lovely. But don't underestimate her.
Immediately drawn to this woman, Frank does his macho-man best to try to force kiss her into submission which usually worked with James Bond and didn't work so well here. Cora will not be the one in submission.
Plus she's married.
Ah, but that can be remedied. *Gasp* no! Not murder most foul!
After Frank things that his doings are wooing the aloof Cora, they collectively come up with the unspoken thought, Nick might have to go. After all, Cora really isn't in love with him, so it's all okay if Frank bumps him off during the night. phrasing
Their heinous plans will land them in a world of spinning emotions, shifting allegiances, backstabbing, and the best noir feeling ever.
For the fans of noir, "The Maltese Falcon" seems like the pinnacle of the genre, and yet "The Postman Always Rings Twice" is a little more approachable for its peculiarities and frankly for its simpler story line. It's glorious to watch because the overacting and all of the sins of the cinema work so well for the movie.
It's hugely flawed, but it never attempted to be "Citizen Kane" and I think we can all let out a collective sigh of "thank god" for that.
"The Postman Always Rings Twice" is a broiler and you don't realize it until the final frames of the movie. It hypes up its drastic emotional climaxes until you are left breathless and panting for more.
Okay, maybe it is pretty sexy.
Posted by Micah Jones