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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

144 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1981) (DVD)

Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange star in this sexually charged thriller about the illicit love affair between a drifter and the restless wife of a gruff, middle-aged roadhouse owner. Torn between a desperate need for each other and their desire for money, they plot a murder--which leads to shattering consequences.


In The Postman Always Rings Twice, Jack Nicholson teamed up again with his Five Easy Pieces and King of Marvin Gardens director Bob Rafelson for this 1981 version of James M. Cain's hardboiled novel of lust and murder. This version takes a much grittier (and sexually explicit) approach to the material than the slick 1946 MGM version starring John Garfield and Lana Turner. Nicholson plays Frank Chambers, a drifter who happens upon a roadside diner run by Cora Papadakis (Jessica Lange) and her swarthy Greek husband, Nick (John Colicos). Sparks fly, and before you can say l'amour fou, Frank and Cora are making the beast with two backs on the kitchen table. One thing leads to another and they conspire to murder Nick. The movie is still a little too cold and distant to fully convey a hot-blooded passion that leads to murder, but it is a strangely haunting and disturbing film nevertheless. The screenplay is by David Mamet, the photography is by the great Sven Nykvist (Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer), and watch for Anjelica Huston in a supporting role. --Jim Emerson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan
  • Directors: Bob Rafelson
  • Writers: David Mamet
  • Producers: Bob Rafelson, Charles Mulvehill
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 079073219X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,766 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This remake of the 1946 film which starred Lana Turner and John Garfield is significantly better than its reputation. The script, adapted from James M. Cain's first novel, is by the award-winning playwright David Mamet, while the interesting and focused cinematography is by Sven Nykvist, who did so much exquisite work for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. An excellent cast is led by Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange, whose cute animal magnetism is well displayed. Bob Rafelson, who has to his directorial credit the acclaimed Five Easy Pieces (1970) and The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), both also starring Jack Nicholson, captures the raw animal sex that made Cain's novel so appealing (and shocking) to a depression-era readership and brings it up to date. Hollywood movies have gotten more violent and scatological since 1981, but they haven't gotten any sexier. This phenomenon is in part due to fears occasioned by the rise of AIDS encouraged by the usual blue stocking people. Don't see this movie if sex offends you.
Lange is indeed sexy and more closely fits the part of a lower-middle class woman who married an older man, a café owner, for security than the stunning blonde bombshell Lana Turner, who was frankly a little too gorgeous for the part. John Colicos plays the café owner, Nick Papadakis, with clear fidelity to Cain's conception. In the 1946 production, the part was played by Cecil Kellaway, who was decidedly English; indeed they changed the character's name to Smith. Also changed in that production was the name of the lawyer Katz (to Keats). One wonders why. My guess is that in those days they were afraid of offending Greeks, on the one hand, and Jews on the other. Here Katz is played by Michael Lerner who really brings the character to life.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By William Cannon on January 31, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson star in a very dark tale of two lovers who sought freedom from their grim, quietly desperate lives in each other's arms. Unfortunately, their quest to remain together leads to the destruction of several lives, and quite possibly their own. The movie is primarily set in a rural area, where Lange's character works at a small roadside diner owned by her husband, a Greek immigrant. One of the most important elements of the film is that it never really demonizes the antagonists, and this is true with respect to the husband character - he has his faults, but he doesnt appear to be overly domineering or abusive. In any event, as fate would have it, one day a drifter appears at the diner, Nicholson's character, and soon he and Lange are making love on her kitchen work table, in one of several extremely graphic sex scenes which are peppered throughout the movie. Now, only Lange's husband stands in the way, and Nicholson and Lange decide to get rid of him. The rest of the movie depicts their attempts on the husband's life and the consequences of their actions, without judgment from the filmmakers, as the story moves to its ultimate, and ultimately shocking, conclusion.

The movie does drag at points, and some of the characters seem unnecessary, but the point is never lost on the audience - both fate and lust, while they draw two people together magnetically, can spell disaster.
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: DVD
As much as I love this faithful version of James M. Cain's classic novel, this DVD is flawed and useless. Warner Brothers, who released the DVD, failed to include a letterbox side...
What gives?
Wasn't the whole point of creating DVD to make EVERYONE happy: the Pan And Scan People, as well as the Letterbox People?
Wasn't it about choice?
We've already seen what POSTMAN looks like Pan and Scan: LOUSY. The film was shot anamorphically(2.35:1 aspect ratio), so that means approximately 42% of the picture is still hiding inside your TV somewhere...
POSTMAN hasn't ever been released in a letterbox format. So until it is, I wouldn't reccomend this DVD to anyone...
... unless NOT seeing what the director intended is your bag... END
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Duncan Reid on August 5, 2007
Format: DVD
I saw the 1981 "Postman" when it first came out. The period recreation and photography are excellent. Moreover, the performances are convincing and the sexual heat can be felt. Lange, who hit major stardom the following year with "Tootsie" and "Frances," has been a top notch actress ever since her arrival in Hollywood. Here, she gets her first high profile dramatic role. In her prime, Lange was an incredibly sexy woman. Hot with a capital "H." In this version, Rafelson and company are true to the ethnicities of Cain's characters. Nick is Greek not English and the lawyer is Jewish not Irish. Another reviewer, Dennis Littrell, suggested that 1946 Hollywood was afraid of being offensive. Littrell is mistakenly applying modern PC concerns to the past. Unflattering and even offensive potrayals of different races and ethnic groups were commonplace at the time. Even though Jews of European descent largely ran Hollywood, they were convinced that many audience members didn't want to watch anyone that might be a little different from them. Of course, John Garfield was Jewish but he wasn't playing a Jewish character. Although certain forties films like "Gentleman's Agreement" addressed the issue of bigotry, it wasn't until the fifties that people of different races and ethnicities were up on the screen more often. Nonetheless, the 1946 version with sultry Lana Turner and ruggedly handsome Garfield really captures the era and the tragedy of these doomed characters.
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