The Postman Always Rings Twice

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Frank Chambers (John Garfield) is a drifter, a man who travels from town to town, but never finds a place to call home. Chambers has been to some wonderful places and met some fine people, but he never stays and always returns to the road. But his latest stop could prove to be the last, whether he wants it to be or not. Chambers happens upon a small truck stop and diner joint, which is run by a middle aged man named Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). All of this seems like business as usual for Chambers, until he catches an eyeful of Smith’s gorgeous wife Cora (Lana Turner). The attraction is instant and intense, a more compelling kind of attraction than Chambers has ever known, one which makes him want to stay, at least for a while. So he is hired on to do some odd jobs around the place, all the while never taking his eyes off of Cora. She feels the same way about him, but she values her marriage vows, even if she doesn’t love her husband. But as time passes, the bond becomes more intense and soon enough, the two are prepared to start a life of their own. The couple tries to make a run for their new life, but each time fails and after a while, Cora suggest that murder could be their only option. But can they somehow murder Nick and make it look accidental, or are they destined to never be together?

In the first ever promotion of its kind, Warner’s DVD Decision offered normal citizens the chance to choose which films were released. A list of options was posted on-line, then visitors could cast their vote and the top five would be soon issued. A true landmark promotion, since it put the power in the hands of the customers, who could decide which films would be selected. The Postman Always Rings Twice was one of the top five vote getters and a result, we now have this terrific release, as a tribute to a most democratic process. So what made all of those folks vote for this picture? The Postman Always Rings Twice is not just an excellent film noir picture, though it is one of the finest examples of the genre, to be sure. As with all elite genre films, this one reaches outside of the genre, to pull in viewers from all demographics. In other words, even if you don’t like film noir, you shouldn’t rule out The Postman Always Rings Twice. The suspense is thick and the atmosphere is superb, this is what film noir is all about. The writing never suffers, which means the characters are well honed and even the small details resonate. Lana Turner is on her best game and by the same token, John Garfield turns in the performance of his career. This is just an excellent movie, one that anyone with even casual interest in film should seek out.

Although her costar also gives one hell of a performance, I think Lana Turner owns this film’s finest effort. Turner’s career was a solid one, with several top drawer performances and a lot of fame for her talents. Of course, more people now know Turner for her stunning good looks, which is more than understandable. But unlike a lot of beautiful women in cinema, Turner had the chops to earn her place in the business. So no, she wasn’t just another pretty face and in this film, she proves she can stand up against anyone. Turner’s personal life was as wild as some of her films, with seven husbands, a reputation for amorous actions, a battle with alcoholism, and a daughter that was involved with a murder. These elements didn’t hinder her on screen talent, but they did block her from ascending the ladder at times, to be sure. But in any case, Turner was a genuine talent and a woman that will live forever thanks to her superb presence. Other films with Turner include Imitation of Life, Madame X, The Bad and the Beautiful, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Peyton Place. The cast also includes John Garfield (The Sea Wolf, Gentleman’s Agreement), Hume Cronyn (Lifeboat, Cocoon), and Leon Ames (Anchors Aweigh, Little Women).

Video: How does it look?

The Postman Always Rings Twice is presented in full frame, as intended. This is a very good looking treatment, much better than I had anticipated. The print shows flecks, debris, and grain at times, but only in minor doses. The nicks never amount to much, while the grain never becomes a cause for concern. The image is quite sharp, with minimal softness I could detect, which is great news for a film from 1946. The black & white visuals come off as crisp and refined, thanks to picture perfect contrast. Even in darker scenes, the visuals shine through well. So Warner has done some excellent work here, which is sure to delight fans.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included mono track offers a solid experience, but of course, lacks in terms of dynamic presence. I like the music used in this film a lot and while it seems a little dated, it sounds terrific in this mix, so I am very pleased. There’s not much to discuss in the realm of sound effects, but the slaps, glass breaks, and other elements seem in fine enough form here. No complaints with the dialogue either, which comes across as clean and crisp at all times. So the mix is a tad dated, but age concerns are never serious. Not the most memorable audio effort, but it more than does the material justice, which is what counts.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An introduction from film historian Richard Jewell starts us off, but the main supplement is The John Garfield Story. This is an hour long piece on Garfield’s life and career, narrated by his daughter Julie. I found this to be a well crafted and enjoyable look inside the actor’s life, one which was never dull or overly promotional. The good and bad are explored, though of course, more time is spent on the good, rather than the bad. Even so, this is an honest and balanced look at Garfield’s life and is a prized addition to this release, to be sure. This disc also includes some behind the scenes still photos, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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