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The Postman Always Rings Twice


The 1981 remake of the 1946 film noir classic THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE is a triumph of production design, but fails to deliver on its legacy and a promising first half.

Jack Nicholson is fine as Frank Chambers, a depression era drifter who finds a landing spot at a desolate diner.

The Greek owner Nick Papadakis is a proud new American, carving out an existence with a decent diner/gas station and his modest home next door.

Nick's young wife Cora (Jessica Lang in full seduction mode) and Frank fall almost immediately into violent lust, knocking more flour off the kitchen counter than an angry Pillsbury doughboy in their first encounter.

Director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) and Nicholson have shown they can create great work together, but their sexually charged, literate adaption of James Cain's classic noir novel seems to go completely off the rails in its second half. It's hard to blame the screenplay by one of our best writers, David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables) so I'm going to pin it on bad editing and a lack of vision behind the camera.

Consider:

John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica) pledges his allegiance to Frank after he saves Nick's life. But why DOES Frank do it?

Angelica Huston wanders into the film as part of a traveling circus for absolutely no reason and her unseen influence later is referenced, but then dropped.

In the final scene, a dying character is clearly breathing on camera for nearly 30 seconds. I kept waiting for them to come back and let their partner know they were okay. They're clearly breathing, but no, the screen goes to black and they're dead, leaving me thinking WTF???

Designed to replicate the era down to the last detail with very good performances from much of the cast, the film lets the actors and characters down by letting them spin into confusion.

The sex is shockingly graphic and violent, and in the end, another unappealing part of this disappointing film.

I'll give it a dusty, murky D.

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