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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

Grittier, rawer eroticism than original, remake chops up story

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1981) A drifter during the Depression arrives at the Twin Oaks Tavern on his way to LA with the driver who'd picked him up hitchhiking, then orders a steak-and-eggs breakfast before going into the lavatory; when he comes out, the driver's gone (as he'd expected) with what he says is his coat and wallet. Wise to the gambit, proprietor Nick Papadakis (John Colicos), in need of a mechanic and handyman, offers Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) a job.

An eyeful of Nick's young, alluring wife Cora (Jessica Lange) in the kitchen tips the balance in Frank's calculations. The Greek café owner says to Frank that America has plenty of opportunity but no ideas or happiness. While Nick's away for the day, Frank sexually pounces on Cora, who after struggling at first submits willingly: "no" means "yes."

Because she likes doing it with Frank, she agrees to abandon Nick; but when Frank gets involved in a craps game while waiting for the bus to Chicago, she returns alone to the restaurant. Their mutual disappointment in each other gradually dissipated as undeniable desire returns.

"You don't know what it's like being a woman trapped in this kind of …," Cora trails off before saying: "I've got to have you, Frank." She turns to him with determination to eliminate the obstacle to her happiness: "I'm tired of what's right and wrong."

On the night they've planned to kill Nick while he's taking a shower, a motorcycle cop stops to admire the new neon sign, chatting with Frank outside, just before the lights go out. Though depicted with more gritty realism and raw eroticism, director Bob Rafelson and screenwriter David Mamet's remake of the 1946 film noir has chopped up the original story, weakening Cora's later motive for murder (she doesn't want to have a baby with Nick) and dispensed with the adversarial subplot between Sackett (William Traylor), the district attorney, and Mr Katz (Michael Lerner - no favorable comparison with Hume Cronyn's crafty character), the lawyer for the defense.

This Cora lacks her predecessor's driving ambition and offers no explanation for marrying Nick. When Cora goes to see her dying mother, the interlude with Frank and Madge (Anjelica Huston), a circus performer, is even sillier here; and the entire classic conclusion has been excised so that the postman doesn't ring even once.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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