The Postman Always Rings Twice

1981

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Critics Consensus

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79%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 14

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,862
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Movie Info

Bob Rafelson's remake of 1946's The Postman Always Rings Twice, with a screenplay by the award-winning playwright David Mamet, stars Jack Nicholson as Frank Chambers, a depression-era drifter who ends up at a diner run by Nick Papadakis (John Colicos), who offers Frank a job. Frank takes him up on the offer, but quickly begins a torrid affair with Nick's wife Cora (Jessica Lange). The adulterous lovers soon hatch a plan to kill Nick and share in the insurance payout. The second big-screen adaptation of the James M. Cain novel, the film garnered a certain degree of notoriety for the explicit sex scenes between Lange and Nicholson.

Cast

Jack Nicholson
as Frank Chambers
Jessica Lange
as Cora Papadakis
John Colicos
as Nick Papadakis
John P. Ryan
as Kennedy
Jon Van Ness
as Motorcycle Cop
Brian Farrell
as Mortenson
Raleigh Bond
as Insurance Salesman
William Newman
as Man from Home Town
Ken Magee
as Scoutmaster
Don Calfa
as Goebel
Louis Turenne
as Ringmaster
Charles B. Jenkins
as Gas Station Attendant
Dick Balduzzi
as Sign Man
John Furlong
as Sign Man
Sam Edwards
as Ticket Clerk
Betty Cole
as Grandmother
Joni Palmer
as Granddaughter
Ron Flagge
as Shoeshine Man
Elsa Raven
as Matron
Lionel Mark Smith
as Crapshooter
Brion James
as Crapshooter
Frank Arno
as Crapshooter
Virgil Frye
as Crapshooter
Tom Maier
as Twin Oaks Customer
Kenneth Cervi
as Crapshooter
Chris P. Rellias
as Greek Party
Basil J. Fovos
as Greek Party
Nick Hasir
as Greek Party
Demetrios Liappas
as Greek Party
Kopi Sotiropulos
as Greek Mourner
Tom Majer
as Twin Oaks Customer
Glenn Shadix
as Twin Oaks Customer
Tani Guthrie
as Twin Oaks Customer
Carolyn Coates
as Twin Oaks Customer
Jim S. Cash
as Twin Oaks Customer
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Critic Reviews for The Postman Always Rings Twice

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for The Postman Always Rings Twice

  • Feb 27, 2016
    Nicholson plays a drifter closely rooted to his basic animalistic tendencies. Lange plays a similar type of woman, currently pretending otherwise. When they meet there's never a question, not for a moment, about their hooking up. That she's a married woman seems only the slightest of distractions. But what to make of these two? Rafelson doesn't seem to know, and neither does Mamet. The Greed angle of this morality play is downplayed (if not totally forgotten) and that exclusion hamstrings this effort. The two leads are magnetic enough, revelling in the Lust angle, but they simply aren't going anywhere past that. In retrospect, and if I were a gossip columnist, I'd guess that this film was put together simply legitimize Nicholson banging Lange and Huston. The effort feels as sordid as all that.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2011
    What is most striking about this film are the performances by the leads. I've grown up taking for granted the fact that Jack Nicholson is a great actor with only a few of his contemporary performances serving as meaningful evidence, but here, in his younger days, Nicholson proves to be a master of smarmy, sleazy subtlety. Jessica Lange is at times vulnerable and at others succeeding in her attempt to be blisteringly alluring. The film's "love" - or should I say animalistic fucking - scenes also serve as the film's appeal, but I found myself more repulsed than aroused. Finally, David Mamet's script is quite strong, but this is not the Mamet of <i>Oleanna</i> and <i>Wag the Dog</i>. Rather, this is the Mamet of <i>The Verdict</i>, a Mamet who relies on subtext more than acerbic dialogue. For example, he writes, "I'm tired of doing the right thing." Pause. "They hang people for that, Cora." It's up to the actors to imbue these lines with meaning, and these actors are up to the task. The film's flaw is the storyline. At the end, we wonder what the film is saying about these characters. It seems that they reach their conclusions out of moralistic fatalism, not out of any authorial or directorial intent. Compare this film to <i>There Will Be Blood</i>, which deals with many of the same themes sans sexuality, and you'll find that Paul Thomas Anderson has a clear vision and feeling about Daniel Plainview, but the same can't be said of these characters. What is more, there is a short subplot with Anjelica Huston, and in the words of Roger Ebert, she seems "to be visiting from another movie." Overall, if you can look at this film as a collection of scenes from an acting class and divorce yourself from the need of a consistent story, <i>The Postman Always Rings Twice</i> is a good film.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2010
    When you’re trying to find a true Neo-Noir, this is hard to beat. Not only does it keep the safe feel and raunchy plotline as most Film Noirs of the late 30s and 40s, but it’s also a very well composed re-imagining of one. David Mamet beautifully adapts a decent script into a complete masterwork. It has all the great ingredients that make people love the movies. The look of the film is amazing as well, with a lot of great period sets, costumes and cars. You also get a real sense that you’re there with these characters. Bob Rafelson does another great job at directing flawless performances and capturing humans at their best and at their worst. I don’t think you can get better than Jack Nicholson when it comes to shady characters, he captures Frank Chambers perfectly. While you ultimately side with him and relate to his views, he truly is a vile person. What makes it great is Jack Nicholson’s deranged sense of charm, which surprisingly works every time. Jessica Lange also gives quite possibly her best performance, definitely the most natural she’s ever been. What I love most about this movie is the fact that the story is so incredibly fun and you become so invested with these two characters who want nothing but trouble. I think it’s great when a film can make you side with the villains, most of the time they’re the most interesting ones anyway. Even through all their bad deeds, they still manage to engage you and make you fall in love with them.
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2010
    Very good movie whit jack nicholson..recomend it...''Next day I was alone with her for a minute, and swung my fist up against her leg so hard it nearly knocked her over. '' 'How do you get that way?' She was snarling like a cougar. I liked her for that. '' 'How are you, Cora?' '' 'Lousy.' ''From then on, I began to smell her again.'' In this passage early in his 1934 novel ''The Postman Always Rings Twice,'' one of the great titles in popular modern American fiction, James M. Cain seems to have perfected that laconic style that begins as Hemingway parody and achieves a classic kind of vulgarity that is erotic, funny and all its own. The characters in Cain are not fancifully third-rate, as they are in Martin Ritt's ''Back Roads.'' They are the genuine article. They snarl like cougars, sometimes just for the hell of it. They don't just put plates on a table - they slam them down. They exchange banalities at a fever pitch. They also smell. Cora, the slatternly, much younger wife of Nick, the Greek owner of the sleazy roadside diner-gasoline station that is the scene of ''Postman,'' trails a vapor of sexuality that is too strong and intense to be dignified as either a scent or an odor. It's a very particular smell. It drives men mad in the way that, in 19thcentury fiction, the sight of a well-turned ankle might. Cora couldn't exist in this era of deodorants. Smells are very important in the world of Cain, especially in ''Postman,'' in which the narrator, a drifter named Frank Chambers, finds himself being led by the nose, first into an adulterous affair with Cora, and then into a plot to murder the foul-smelling old Nick, whose Saturday night baths are never enough. Vulgarity is the essense of Cain's fiction, and vulgarity is what is so lacking in the new screen adaptation directed by Bob Rafelson (''Five Easy Pieces''), written by David Mamet, one of our most talented and idiosyncratic young playwrights, and starring Jack Nicholson as Frank Chambers and Jessica Lange as the portable heater called Cora. Unlike the romanticized, severely pruned 1946 M-G-M version, in which John Garfield and Lana Turner played the illicit lovers, this ''Postman'' has not been updated. It remains in its own time, the era of the Great Depression when even aimlessness was charged with purpose - the purpose of somehow coping with an economy and with dreams that were falling apart.
    Martin D Super Reviewer

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