THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946) B/W 114m dir: Tay Garnett
w/Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Audrey Totter, Leon Ames
This version of James M. Cain's novel soft-pedaled the brutal sexuality of the book in favor of smoldering looks and dialogue riddled with double entendres. Turner's shallow beauty is perfectly suited to the role of the amoral wife who plots to murder her husband, but even luscious Lana is overshadowed by Garfield's street-smart bravado as the drifter who becomes her co-conspiritor and lover.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films : "This harshly-lit, tense version is one of the best of the Hollywood film noir of the Forties, perfectly bringing to life the atmosphere of the novel and its suggestion of soulless American ambition in the character of the wife."
From Variety 's review of the film: "It was box-office wisdom to cast Lana Turner as the sexy, blonde murderess, and John Garfield as the foot-loose vagabond whose lust for the girl made him stop at nothing. Each give [sic] to the assignment the best of their talents. Development of the characters makes Tay Garnett's direction seem slowly paced during the first part of the picture, but this establishment was necessary to give the speed and punch to the uncompromising evil which follows.
"As in Cain's book, there will be little audience sympathy for the characters, although plotting will arouse moments of pity for the little people too weak to fight against passion and the evil circumstances it brings. The script is a rather faithful translation of Cain's story of a boy and girl who murder the girl's husband, live through terror and eventually make payment for their crime. The writing is terse and natural to the characters and events that transpire."
Cain's novel was also made into an earlier film, 1942's Italian neorealist classic, OSSESSIONE.