More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 3 user ratings

Latest Reviews

To the Ends of the Earth by Jay Seaver

Wood Job! by Jay Seaver

News of the World by Rob Gonsalves

Promising Young Woman by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Woman 1984 by Rob Gonsalves

Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone by Rob Gonsalves

Mank by Rob Gonsalves

Wander Darkly by Rob Gonsalves

Stand In, The by Rob Gonsalves

MLK/FBI by alejandroariera

subscribe to this feed

Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"One male, delivered, causes a whole parcel of problems."
3 stars

There's no shame in admitting that you think that you thought that this movie was about a housewife having an affair with the mailman, or maybe concerned about the mailman interrupting some other rendez-vous. In actual fact, it's got nothing to do with the delivery of letters and parcels whatsoever, aside from a somewhat tortured metaphor at the end. Instead, it's a film noir that, while it has its problems, is a bit better than the sum of its parts.

Frank Chambers (John Garfield) is profoundly unattached, hitch-hiking his way through California, when he comes to rest at a roadside diner/gas station/garage owned by Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). It seems like a simple, comfortable situation, but Nick's got a pretty young wife, Cora (Lana Turner), and while she initially wants no part of the handsome drifter, their attraction cannot be denied. Still, Cora isn't one to just hit the road, which means that something will have to be done about Nick.

Though not particularly long by today's standards, The Postman Always Rings Twice seems drawn out in all the wrong places and too compact in others, and there are elements that haven't aged well at all. In the first half, for instance, the audience is likely to find themselves wishing that Frank and Cora would just kill Nick already, not so much because of any animosity toward the character, but because it's clear that either Nick has got to die or something extremely unexpected must happen for the story to move forward, and any further delay just means less time to put the screws on the characters in the second half. As it happens, the second half does feel rushed, driven by hysteria rather than the slow, calculating burn that had come before. It's not a crippling issue, but one that could use some adjusting.

And while Hume Cronyn brings a certain amount of energy to the film as the gleefully amoral defense attorney in the second half, it means that the courtroom antic are even more absurd than usual for the generations who grew up watching Law & Order. Some of the standards of the day are kind of hilarious, as well: Two people continuing to live under one roof (though in separate rooms) one is widowed is apparently not just suspicious, but practically criminal, while Nick habitually driving while cartoonishly inebriated is apparently just comedic eccentricity

For all its flaws, though, it's at least got a cast that can sell what's going on. Lana Turner and John Garfield are genuinely great here. Turner sells "poor me, I'm so pretty that it's always been a burden!" perfectly, with just the right mix of immaturity and enough smarts and ambition that we believe she has been genuinely underestimated. Garfield, meanwhile, shows Frank as a 1940s sort of slacker (as aimless as the modern variety, but manly and capable enough that it manifests as wanderlust rather than idleness) who can bring forth a cunning animal intelligence when need be. Cecil Kellaway is broadly, absent-mindedly paternal as Nick; it's not a great performance, but it doesn't have to be if he's only sticking around for as long as he's needed. Leon Ames (as District Attorney Kyle Sackett) and Hume Cronyn are a perfectly nice pair as the lawyers facing off in the latter half of the murder, both sort of smug as they go about their jobs.

They and director Tay Garnett do what they can with a script that, to be fair, had to make risqué source material into something that was acceptable under the Production Code of the time. What they can get around, they do well with; the parts that are about Cora and Frank maturing and realizing what they want out of life and relationships are actually very well done. It's the crime parts that don't quite work as well as they should, and a coda that certainly feels Code-mandated doesn't help.

Even with that too-earnest last scene (where the title is finally explained), "The Postman Always Rings Twice" works fairly well. The good parts make up for the flaws by a greater margin than they've got any right to, and though I can't say I love it, the elements that lead many to consider it a classic are plainly visible.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/20/12 10:12:33
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

10/31/05 Mike One of the best of it's kind. Turner's turbaned femme fatal is a chilling delight. 5 stars
2/19/04 R.W. Welch Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men...and women. Classic noir. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  02-May-1946 (NR)
  DVD: 06-Jan-2004



Directed by
  Tay Garnett

Written by
  Harry Ruskin
  Niven Busch

  Lana Turner
  John Garfield
  Cecil Kellaway
  Hume Cronyn
  Leon Ames
  Audrey Totter

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast