Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Cinematic Experience - The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1946

Good Evening Kittens!  How was the weekend?  Mine was fabulous - comprised of wine tasting with the ladies of my extended family, watching The Golden Girls with my Oma, brunching and shopping with one of my dearest friends, and a relaxing evening tonight with a glass of wine and a cuddly kitty in my lap.  It was lovely.

On Friday night, I was not feeling very well and knew I had a lot to gear up for, so I curled up on my couch and watched the Film Noir classic The Postman Always Rings Twice, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by James M. Cain.

watch the trailer
While this film is not on my Film School list, I hadn't seen this in a very long time and because it was a cold, windy night, this seemed like a good fit.  This film has it all - a beautiful Femme Fatale, a handsome stranger, love, murder, double-crossing, and repercussions for your actions that will always catch up with you.  All in all, a really good time!


This is the story of a drifter, Frank, played by James Garfield, who continually claims, 'My feet, they keep itchin' for me to go places.'  His itchy feet bring him to Twin Oaks where he sees a Man Wanted sign and decides to take the position doing odd jobs around the diner.  We then meet Cora, played by Lana Turner.  Her introduction is absolutely brilliant.  It establishes so much in so little time.  I have heard it described as the best character introduction ever.  You be the judge...

In approximately one minute, we establish the attraction between the two.  We establish the fact that Cora is used to getting her way.  We establish that Frank also gets what he wants most of the time.  And those facts will create quite a problem - one that will be rather interesting to watch play out.

As in most films of this period, the two instantly fall in love, but there is the problem of Cora's husband, Nick, played by Cecil Kellaway.  Nick, who owns the diner, is much older than Cora - their marriage is not one of love, but rather one where Nick gains companionship and Cora gains financial stability.  Cora and Frank decide to run away together - attempting to hitch a ride instead of taking Nick's car.  As Frank explains: 'Steal a man's wife, that's nothing.  Steal a man's car, that's larceny.'

After Cora realizes that running off with Frank will leave her with nothing, the two decide to go back to formulate a new plan.  It does not take long for them to realize that if Frank were out of the picture, the diner would be Cora's and they would be set.  So starts the scheming.  Their first attempt on Nick's life is thwarted by a cat who gets electrified and takes out the power.  As is so eloquently stated, 'Cats are poor dumb things.' 'Yeah, they don't know anything about electricity.'  Gotta love the dialogue of this period!

Before a better plan can be formulated, Nick decides that he's going to sell the diner and that he and Cora will be moving to Canada to take care of his invalid sister - and that fuels the desperation to get him out of the way.  Cora's desperation is palpable, 'You love me? Then what do you do? You let him take me away to some miserable little dump of a town where I'll rot the rest of my life away waiting on him and his half-dead sister?'  

A very interesting series of events unfold and it is really worth seeing if you have not already done so.  Is the title still a mystery?  Only after you watch this film, will the following quote make any sense...and once it does, it's quite smart:
'You know, there's something about this that's like, well it's like, you're expecting 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 all the way out in the backyard.'

Happy Viewing!

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