The Postman Always Rings Twice | Chicago Reader

The Postman Always Rings Twice

A literal-minded, stylistically conservative version of the James M. Cain pulp classic, which is to say a complete betrayal of it. Bob Rafelson's direction has none of Cain's lean hysteria; his Frank and Cora drift through their sex-drugged, sadomasochistic affair in a tone of depressed naturalism, without any invigorating sense of sin or transgression. When fate steps in at the end to even the score, the stroke makes no sense: Rafelson hasn't come close to creating a context that can support Cain's grand, mad notions of divine retribution; in his version, the postman doesn't even ring once. Screenwriter David Mamet has tried to preserve every cog of Cain's elegant plot machinery, but that story line, beautiful as it is, has the wrong rhythm for a movie; the film hums along from twist to twist, but never develops any momentum. With Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, and John Colicos (1981).

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