The Postman Always Rings Twice - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Postman Always Rings Twice Reviews

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JonathanHutchings
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2011
I wasn't expecting a classic film noir along the lines of "Double Indemnity" or "Out of the Past" when I finally got around to watching The Postman Always Rings Twice, and for awhile, I thought I might have been wrong. Compared to the benchmarks of the genre, I didn't have extra high hopes for this movie. Then my mood brightened when it actually started becoming very engaging. I wasn't being blown away, but I did start getting immersed in the cunning "noir 101" plot. The reviewer who noted MGM's dramatic lighting of Turner is right: it's ridiculous, but it does come with the territory I guess. Other than that, things seemed to be moving in place very smoothly.

Then an odd thing happened. The movie refused to end. It wasn't that the pace was slow, it moved speedily. Something was always happening, and there was plenty of suspense/overblown MGM music blaring out of the speakers at any given moment. But the plot was way too top-heavy. They get caught doing the murder. Okay, time for trial, some final irony, then the movie's over -- only that it isn't. It just kept going. New subplots turned up, bribes, plot twists, double crosses, it just kept happening and happening. It was too much. The problem was, nothing of any substance was given to the events that kept happening. It was like the screenwriters noted "okay, this happened in the book, but we have to trim it a bit, so we'll make a small two minute scene including it in the movie" and suddenly the movie is full of these large occurrences given very brief sketched out screen time. Garfield runs off for a weekend in Tijuana with some random woman? What just happened? Things just grew too implausible.

During the final embarrassing "what does God make of all this" speech to the priest (aren't noirs supposed to be existential?), I happened to look at the video case and glance at the title. Realizing it hadn't been referenced in the movie yet I stared at the screen and muttered "out with it" and in return got some over-reaching ramblings concerning how "he always rings twice, always rings twice" ext. Yikes. The meaning behind the story's title is actually quite fascinating, but you wouldn't know it by the film's explanation.

I have to say though, the movie had some very good irony and employed a load of classic film noir tricks (the final outcome must have influenced the Coen Brothers with "The Man Who Wasn't There"). Garfield and Lana Turner were both outstanding, and walked the opportunistic yet naive line beautifully; however the plot is too dependent on coincidence, and the never ending onslaught of twists for plot twists sake becomes dull after a while. I'd recommend this film to noir buffs and Golden Age MGM fans only.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2010
"Darling, can't you see how happy you and I would be together here...without him?"

In this steamy collaboration between John Garfield and Lana Turner, Garfield plays a young, aimless vagabond who arrives at a small diner near Los Angeles in his travels, and enters the life of the gorgeous young woman (Turner) and her older husband who own the place. The connection between the young man and woman is immediate, and their desire to be together and own the restaurant leads to a story of murder, deceit, violence, and betrayal.

The Postman Always Rings Twice surprised me with the number of twists, turns, and shifts in tone that it had. The beginning, middle, and end of the movie are all quite different, and the characters go through some radical changes. For fans of Lana Turner, she was never more stunning than she was in this. She was just an absolutely breath- taking woman, and every camera angle and costume she wore seemed designed to highlight her beauty. The movie is almost worth watching for that reason alone.

I thought Postman was good, but not great. The story was interesting, but most of the tension and suspense is in the first part of the movie, which makes the latter half seem a little lacking at times. Still, this was a very watchable thriller, and big fans of Garfield or Turner should consider this a "must see".
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
Another good thriller from the forties, somewhat like a lot of other thrillers, but it has a good cast, it's worth watching.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2010
A film full of wicked people, ugly lawyers, and scheming lovers. Really, there's practically no one here who's sympathetic. It's the sort of story that could've been found in any crime magazine in the 40s and 50s. A drifter (John Garfield) stumbles upon an old diner run by an old man (Cecil Kellaway) and his young, attractive wife (Lana Turner). Just as the old man is completely trusting of his new handyman and his wife, the two are sure to have an illicit affair. But the film doesn't really get rolling until the sleezy lawyers make their way into the story. Hume Cronyn's character knowingly frees a pair of murderers for a measly 100 dollar bet. Like all the best films of the crime genre, we the audience are voyeurs into the lives and minds of criminals, and through the film, we vicariously commit acts we could never be allowed to get away with in real life. When the criminals do get their just desserts in the end, we can sit back piously and thankfully say they get what they had coming.
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2009
Classic film noir adapted from James M. Cain's novel, details the relationship of a woman in a marriage of convenience and the aimless drifter she's attracted to. Serpentine plot is riveting from start to finish, mostly due to the chemistry generated between Lana Turner and John Garfield. One might quibble over their first kiss which happens so abruptly it's actually humorous. However, their mostly smoldering attraction and dialogue is the very definition of sexual tension. The film is a stunning reminder that an erotic thriller is often more potent for what it doesn't show.
Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2009
I just realized I don't particularly like conventional film noir. It's too dramatic for me and the lighting is too chiaroscuro obvious. I didn't think the guy was hot at all and I kept on wanting the slap the characters into reality.
mwilliams078
Super Reviewer
July 21, 2008
The Postman Always Rings Twice from 1946 is such a gem of a film noir. Lana Turner and John Garfield are a very good team of people whom are so lethal for one another. If you are a fan of these actors, a film noir, or love a dark very well done film than this is for you!
dietmountaindew
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2007
"postman always rings twice" is an essential film noir classic directed by tay garnett who also handles the 30s gable/harlow "china seas"...this flick foundamentalizes lana turner's femme fatale icon as the dangerous blonde whose beauty catalyzes death and corruption, and this time her romantic steer john garfield is her willing thug whose resourcefulness emulates her charm.

garfield plays frank chamber, who is an aloof vagabond with a persistant living philosophy of emancipation which means he's reluctant to get restrained by anything or anyone and always on the anxiety to run when his feet get itches to go to places, briefly a rebel of temporality. chamber could manage himself fine until he encounters the cool insouciant bombshell who happens to be his new employer's wife whose shrewd individuality could rival his, and the moment he sees her carelessly awaiting him to pick up her lipstick then implictly command him to bring it forth, he's determinated to conquer this woman of lofty pride.

turner would be cora smith, married to an elder obsese kind-faced resteraunt-owner nick smith, who is mindless enough to neglect his young wife. eventually chamber filtrates into her heart with gradual convictions of his wits. so to seek an outlet without costing her future ease, cora persuades frank into murdering nick...it fails..then nick intends to sell the store and demands his young wife to sacrifice her youth attending his paralyzed bed-ridden sister, so they co-scheme to murder nick for a second time. somehow karma has its own deployment to serve the justice right even god has to ring twice for them to get the message.

"postman always rings twice" is a success of dialogue-driven drama which vitalizes the whole movie, and also the comic sense of absurdity is another cynic pleasure for the noir fonders, such as the scenrios of cat getting electrified to fail the murder, chamber suing cora in panic, the bet between district attorney and lawyer and the falsified confession...etc. lots of plot twists to relish your taste of sarcastic mockery. further, the two leads are written with an empathetic affinity to the audience. there's no absolute evil in them but momentary volunerability of human flaws.

there's also some moral dubicity in the leads which titilates the audience: first of all, frank and cora do it for the sake of love, and they're naive enough to believe in it. besides cora does attempt to resist chamber but her sappy husband nick is foolish enough to encourage her to dance with chamber along the juke box...chamber does hesitate to slaughter nick but the desperation of love veers him forward. chamber is an asserted loner surrenders to the fatal love of blonde bombshell. so the man is not wimpishly weak and the woman is not devilishly heartless to fit into the noir stereotype of feminine guile and effeminate strengthlessness.

another peculiar trait to emphasize its moral relativism is lana turner's wardrobe which is all purgatorily white-colored which is to brighten or to contrast the gloomy aroma of murder and destruction...it's like insidious con lurking beneath the seemingly innocent surface, a lily blossomed thru a sinful rot of adultery. at the particular scene when cora lures frank into murdering nick, turner's eyebrows raise unevenly as the ominous sign which is an accomplishment of the cosmetic department. most of all, the characters of cora and frank do possess some ingenuine childlikeness and the chesmistry of good timing to confront the crooked blackmail, man beats the con, woman swift enough to point a gun as defence...a perfect screen team.

the best adavantage of "postman always rings twice" would its justified moral lesson without being moralistically preachy, and the leads are convingingly degenerated characters of likability without the contrived harshness which populates in this gendre of film noir.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2007
even with the restrictions of the time this is heads above the remake which is utter crap
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
If you've ever wondered how much people can screw each other over, here's your answer.
Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2009
This is one of those classics that I just don't get. I liked how it started but it was majorly slow and I just wasn't into it. There was some nice chemistry though.
lopcar1993
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2009
This film does for film noir what what The Matrix did for Sci-Fi, it defines a genre and breaks new bounds in the 40's at least, This classic film is undeniably one of the best that has ever been put to film it's dark themes and it's high level of sexual tension makes it a must see for Noir lovers and for classic film lovers as well.


The postman always rings twice is not what you'd call anything groundbreaking in the classic film genre but it is a very good film at that and really did help make Film noir a much darker and more sinister setting than it was. I really liked the energy that the story had and I liked the plot of it as well but the acting on Garfield's part really wasn't all that( even for the 40's it was bad.) Bu Lana Tuner turns in a fantastic performance with a weak leading man to fall on. This film's story today is nothing new but it does feel fresh and inviting and very engaging, it's kinetic in the way it plays out and it feels oh so good to watch it play out it's foreboding and mysterious and you love to watch Garfield and Turner play off each other and they do it oh so well.


If there is anything that save this film it's itself. The film saves itself from falling into a boring melodrama of seduction and murder that was seen all the time in the 40's, The postman always rings twice Is a quintessential film to see and if you love film noir and classic's this has to be on your watch list. All in all The postman delivers.
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2008
Film Noir at its steaming best.
Super Reviewer
½ September 19, 2006
Entertaining enough, I suppose, and I've always loved Lana Turner (that snapping expression, sigh), but what a mess! I never thought I would disparage a classic, but this movie is one of those "Why isn't it ending?" types. Seems almost schizophrenic in its pacing and there's a stretch where I thought I was watching Scarlett and Rhett sped up and made completely nonsensical. It has some classic LOL lines though ("Kiss me before I sock ya!"), but it was such an odd, odd film.
½ October 12, 2015
The queer thing about The Postman Always Rings twice, is that there is no postman in the whole film. The author of the novel on which the movie was based, James Cain, must have been inspired by Hemingway's metaphoric titles. And like Hemingway, Cain, with his simple, spare prose, was writing during the period when novels no longer became bestsellers because of their merits, but that a book's merit's were judged by how it was selling. Cain isn't a bad author at all, and the simplicity of his writing shouldn't belie his wordsmanship: he never uses the same word twice throughout the novel, of course "the" "a" etc. occur more than once. but when something is yellow, it is the only thing that is yellow in the whole book.. The storyline of the novel is very much like Camus' stranger though the main character is much less isolated.
It's important to mention thee novel because as the movie has become the quintessential film noire movie, the moniker, or at least part of it, has been back referenced to the genre of Cain's work.
The popularity of the novel at the time can be seen by the fact that the movie starred two of the biggest names in Hollywood: Garfield and Turner. Generally, noire films seek to capture the desperateness of less than ordinary people trying to overcome the claustrophobia of their lives. only to find their actions worsening their situations. As one of the progenitors of the genre, The Postman Always Rings Twice doesn't quite convey the same message that Cain was trying to make. The fault lies mainly in Turner and Garfield and the film's director's attempt to grandstand them. It's hard to imagine Garfield as the itinerant drifter seeking work only to be caught up in a love triangle gone horribly wrong. As the object of his love, Turner is more than qualified maybe too qualified. It's hard to imagine her as the wife of a relatively unattractive owner of a road side eatery. That was the crux of the novel actually, Chambers wanting to know how a woman like Cora could be stuck where she was, and wasn't he, Chambers, a better man for her. Nevertheless, Cora was still a bit ordinary and the point being made that blind love can sometimes enhance or exaggerate the object of affection's value well beyond it's actual value. Turner being already maxed out doesn't go through that transition.
There certainly is a sexist vein to the movie in the objectifying of woman, which neither the novel or movie makes any attempt to justify. I don't know how Cain felt about this rendition of his novel, he had a hand in writing the screenplay, but my assessment is that it is an essential movie in the genre and if you're interested in this type of film it's a must see, in spite of it's faults.
December 11, 2012
I went into this one thinking that I had seen this one before but soon realized that I must've been thinking about the '80s re-make, or just convinced myself that I read the book in conjunction with a viewing of the film - I don't know what the deal was.

That said, this was a really well-made adaptation of the source material and I'm happy to finally mark it off my film noir viewing list.

Recommended.
July 31, 2013
Lana Turner, and John Garfield fit right into there roles as two people made for each other. It's exciting, and fascinating to watch these characters interact with each other. A great American movie.
July 19, 2013
The Postman Always Rings Twice. What kind of title is The Postman Always Rings Twice? I know it's the title of the book, but it's one of the worst titles ever for a movie. Other than a comment at the end of the film, the title has nothing to do with the film itself. Now, on with my review for the film that should be called Adulterous Romance Gone Wrong.

In The Postman Always Rings Twice, drifter Frank Chambers (John Garfield) gets a job as a small diner run by Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). When he meets Nick's attractive wife (Lana Turner), he soon wants to have a sexual relationship with her. They soon plot to kill off Nick so they can get married and claim his insurance policy. The plan works well, but with the law on to them, can the two lovers manage to escape their crimes?

The film also stars Hume Cronyn as crooked judge Arthur Keets.

I really wanted to like this film. I really did. The casting of Lana Turner and John Garfield is brilliant, especially Turner, who's pretty attractive, while a sick and twisted woman. The chemistry comes off as the best thing in the film. I also liked the thrills in the film, particularly in the killing scenes.

If I liked these scenes, then what's wrong with the film? Well, besides the awful film title, it seemed to me like the film director was attempting to knock Alfred Hitchcock by putting crazy plot twists after another. While Hitchcock succeeded in this, particularly in Vertigo, Tay Garnett, however, overdid it on the twists, making the film less convincing. Also, while I was impressed by the performances of Lana Turner and John Garfield and their chemistry was good, the romance, however, wasn't. What didn't help at all was the censorship restrictions during sexual scenes (Back in the day, you could only kiss for 3 seconds). The restrictions really dumbed the film down and makes the romantic scenes dull.

The biggest disappointment in The Postman Always Rings Twice is the ending. While is was predictable that something bad was going to happen to the characters, the way it was presented was a letdown. I'm not going to give it away, but if you've heard the Styx song "Renegade," then you know how it's going to end. While something like this works in a rock song, it fails miserably in a thriller.

I had high expectations for The Postman Always Rings Twice, but I was disappointed, especially in the ending and the many twists and melodrama. The 95% Tomatometer score is a joke. Literally.
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