The Postman Always Rings Twice
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Postman Always Rings Twice, The (BD)
Adapted from James M. Cain's story, the film relolves around the destructive relationship of two lovers whose troubles mount after they do away with her husband.]]>
Lana Turner was arguably the most glamorous and popular movie star in the world for the better part of a decade, with her come-hither figure gracing World War II fighter planes and her complicated romantic exploits splashed across tabloid fanzines. Teamed with the thuggishly handsome John Garfield--a pretty big box-office draw himself--she made this 1946 adaptation of James M. Cain's pulp potboiler one of the steamiest films noir ever to define the genre. Garfield is a drifter named Frank who wanders into the Twin Oaks, a bedraggled roadhouse owned by the curmudgeonly Nick (Cecil Kellaway) and his smokin' hot wife Cora (Turner), a platinum bombshell with a penchant for white linen suits and shorts that are tailored to her creamy flesh like fuzz on a peach. It's lust at first site for Cora and Frank, and almost in spite of themselves they start wondering how to get rid of Nick, with rules from the Cain playbook of tawdry schemes whose clumsy fits and starts end up very badly. Like Cain's Double Indemnity, which attained classic noir screen status two years earlier with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, Postman is brimming with subterfuge and sexuality. Turner and Garfield don't have exactly the right chemistry, but their coming together and tearing apart and coming together again is an irresistible slow burn of criminal passion. They can't really believe they're thinking and doing the things they are when it comes to plotting various accidental deaths that could befall Nick, and the plot gets even gooier when a cagy lawyer (a slick, sleek Hume Cronyn) gets involved in the case. Pushing along Postman's sexual subtext and intriguing narrative is gorgeous cinematography that ripples with brightness and shadow. The meticulously designed close-ups of Turner are some of the most stunning glamour poses in Hollywood history, with light glowing all around her and seeming to beam like an aura directly out of her radiant hair and perfect facial structure. One of the terrific extras on the disc is a lengthy feature about Turner's tumultuous, meteoric career. There's also "The John Garfield Story," and a pair of short subjects that make the entire Postman package a delightful and long-awaited entry into the pantheon of film noir on home video. --Ted Fry
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In a great scene early in the film, Nick has gone into town on some errands and Cora makes her entrance by dropping her lipstick which roles over to Frank's feet. We don't see her at first, nor does Frank. He picks up the lipstick and looks up along with the rest of us to find young Cora. She's a platinum blond, decked out in a glistening white 2-piece outfit with short shorts and her hair neatly tucked into a turban. You can see Frank gasp ever so faintly, as did I. She's a knockout and yes, we know where this is all headed.
Bored with her life with dull Nick, Cora and Frank begin their affair and quietly plot Nick's demise. Based on a novel by James M. Cain and adapted for the screen by Harry Ruskin and Niven Busch, "Postman" is quintessential noir. We have the good, bad guy and the innocent good guy. And of course the bad girl that usually gets her way. This terrific picture was one of Garfield and Turner's best work, although reports were that they were not fond of each other. You would never know it by watching their work here.
The Blu ray package is a winner. The transfer is in 1080p with a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The extras however are all in standard definition. While the film may not be quite as sharp as some black and white films I've seen, it looks very good. Some of the night scenes seem like daylight to me but than is probably just limitations of the original photography. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio mono, delivered from the front channels. Likewise it shouldn't be expected to be groundbreaking but it is clear and crisp with limited noise.
Included in the Blu ray version of 1946's "The Postman Always Rings Twice," is "Lana Turner: A Daughter's Memoir." This 86 minute documentary does a nice job of highlighting the long career of glamorous film star, Lana Turner. It is narrated by Robert Wagner and includes some juicy tidbits from Turner's only child, Cheryl Crane. She was the lonely product of Turner and her second husband, restaurateur Stephen Crane. Turner was married 7 times and had numerous other lovers. Ms. Crane was a casualty of being ignored by her mother, although they became closer in Turner's later life. Crane became headline fodder in 1958, when at the age of 14 stabbed to death her mother's lover, gangster Johnny Stompanato. Crane also alleges being molested repeatedly by her mother's fourth husband, actor Lex Barker (Tarzan films). There are numerous other contributors including Kirk Douglas, Robert Stack, Juanita Moore and her make-up artist and confidant Del Armstrong. The documentary is very interesting if you are curious about actors and film studios in the late 30's and 1940's.
"The John Garfield Story" (2003): This is another documentary included on the Blu ray version of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946). While it doesn't go into much depth of the man himself, the film does cover most of his career leading up to his untimely death at age 39. The film is narrated by his youngest daughter, Julie Garfield (Julie was John's real name). Naturally her father is shown in the best light possible with plenty of talking head accolades by various people who knew Garfield. Those included actors James Cromwell, Hume Cronyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Lee Grant and many others.
Other extras include a film introduction by Richard Jewell, a 16 minute short called "Phantoms, Inc." about confidence men preying of unexpected victims of the era (1940's), a color cartoon called "Red Hot Riding Hood," a theatrical trailer and an audio only version of a Screen Guild Theater Broadcast.