Tuesday, July 05, 2011
#153: The Postman Always Rings Twice
The movie is based on a 1934 book by James Cain and universally regarded as one of the best crime thrillers of all time.
Head, Blood and Wine and Five Easy Pieces are some of the other movies director Bob Rafaelson has made with Nicholson, the lead actor in this movie.
Earlier in 1946, a movie had been made based on the same subject.
Partly noir, partly romance, the movie is about a vagabond Frank (Nicholson) who comes to a wayside restaurant and falls in love with the owner's wife Cora Papadakis. (Jessica Lange)
On Cora's exhortation, the couple plan to murder the restaurant owner and elope to another city.
Set in rural California, the movie brings a brooding gloomy sense to the proceedings.
The couple's plan goes awry and they're consigned to their routine lives once again.
Much of the film's spark is derived from the chemistry between Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
As the movie progresses, the tension builds up but never escalates to a boiling point.
Nevertheless, the screenplay does have it's moments.
An example is the first sexual encounter between Frank and Cora.
Living with the Papadakis, Frank was waiting for an appropriate moment to literally pounce upon Cora.
While her husband leaves for town one day, Frank's devilish instincts get the better of him.
And that leads to a scene of lust fulfilled - shot with the beastly Frank and beautiful Cora in the kitchen.
You would struggle to remember a similar scene.
Sven Nykvist, the DOP also brings a lot of character to this scene as he does with some of the other scenic night shots as well.
Rarely does a great book not produce a good movie.
In the case of The Postman Rings Always Twice, the intent is all-pervading to make a classic.
Nevertheless as a viewer, it didn't strike the right note with me.
Go watch it, only if you're a Nicholson fan.
Sexy Lange will also make your eyes pop with her earthly but smoky on-screen presence.
There isn't much to write home about.
What could've also helped was a better ending.
In the book it is different from what's shown in this version.
Check out also the 1946 version that's regarded highly.
Execution wise, this didn't botch up but didn't light bright either.