Monday, December 23, 2013

Movie Monday: The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice
On the second and fourth Monday of every month, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize that few people have the time or desire to read the amount that I do, especially when it comes to the 100 Best Novels list. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good movie almost as much as a good book.

Just a quick post today! I hope you are all out celebrating the holidays with your loved ones. In between cookies and carols this week, make sure you swing by the blog. I have posts planned for the whole week and you won't want to miss them!

I read The Postman Always Rings Twice back in July. I found the little thriller delightful, albeit dark. While I Stanley Tucci could have starred in an adaptation (he read the audio book I listened to), I had no such luck. Instead, I found this classic version from 1946 starring Lana Turner and John Garfield.

There is a more recent adaptation from 1981 starring Jack Nicholson. It, however, is decidedly more graphic. Just like Lolita, I have opted to steer clear of that one. I am sticking with this classic rendition on this one.

As with most movies from the 1940s, this one is black and white. It moves quickly without spending much time explaining the plot to you. Unlike Orson Welles' adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons, that quality does not hold this movie back. The plot is simple and does not need much explanation. The story is a perfect fit for the film making trends of the era.

Lana Turner performed masterfully as Cora. She exemplifies the character's horribleness perfectly. She clearly is the standout performance of the film. I hated her so much, as I should have.

As I mentioned, the violence and sex is way toned down in this adaptation. The book was more graphic than even the film, a rare switch.  In the time period, it simply would not have been acceptable to show the kinds of things James M. Cain described in detail.

Cain never explains the title of the book in the actual manuscript. The film, however, takes the issue into its own hands. They give Frank a short monologue right at the end tying in the postman reference. I certainly understand why they did this, but I kind of wish they had left the symbolism untouched and unexplained, as Cain did.

If you are looking for a thriller from days gone by to watch, I would recommend this movie. If you aren't into old movies, obviously you should skip this one. I personally found it to be a great adaptation of the book.

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