The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Introduction-Richard Jewell (Film Hstorian / USC Professor)
Featurette-TNT Documentary - The John Garfield Story
Gallery-Behind-The-Scenes Image Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1946
Running Time 108:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Tay Garnett
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Lana Turner
John Garfield
Cecil Kellaway
Hume Cronyn
Leon Ames
Audrey Totter
Alan Reed
Jeff York
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music George Bassman
Richard A. Whiting
Eric Zeisl


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Spanish
Portuguese
Dutch
Danish
Icelandic
Croatian
Slovenian
Hungarian
Swedish
Czech
Greek
Polish
Romanian
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    James M. Cain's 1934 novel emerges relatively unscathed in this third screen adaptation, the first made in Hollywood. Prior to this there had been a French version and the now famous unauthorised Ossessione, directed by Luchino Visconti. This 1946 effort from MGM features their big female star Lana Turner and John Garfield on loan-out from Warners.

    Frank Chambers (Garfield) is a drifter who wanders into the roadside diner of Nick Smith (Cecil Kellaway). Initially reluctant to settle at a single job, he changes his mind when he meets Nick's wife Cora (Turner). I'm surprised he wasn't reduced to a gibbering mess when she appears, clad in a two-piece white costume, all legs and bare midriff. Pretty soon Frank and Cora are lovers, and they concoct a plan to kill Nick and make it look like an accident. It goes wrong and Nick is hospitalised with a head injury, arousing the suspicions of District Attorney Sackett (Leon Ames). But Frank and Cora forge ahead, and soon Cora is on trial for her life. But the sneaky lawyer Keats (Hume Cronyn) has other ideas.

    Tay Garnett's film is very close to the original novel, with only a few minor changes. Nick Smith was originally Nick Papadakis, and the ending is slightly different, possibly to satisfy the front office. Otherwise the story is faithfully rendered, though of course the sexual overtones are visually implied rather than stated outright. While this is probably the best film made of the novel (I have not seen the French adaptation which is also highly rated), it still has some flaws. Some of the story seems a little perfunctory, and the sense of doom around the lovers is not as strong as in the book. It could have been more exciting as well, with the tension leading up to the killing and in the courtroom scenes being a little slack.

    Performance-wise, it is also variable. Lana's first appearance takes the breath away, and while she was probably cast for decorative reasons, she is not totally convincing in the role. While she talks about having been hounded by men since she was 14, you don't quite believe her motives for marrying Nick. Garfield on the other hand is nearly perfect as Frank, drawn in above his head, driven by his desire for this woman but bewildered by the turns of events at the same time. Leon Ames is a bit dull as the DA, but Hume Cronyn practically steals the film as the devious lawyer. Audrey Totter is slightly wasted as a woman Frank picks up - but the censors must have missed the footage of her breasts squeezed up against the car window.

    This was an unusual film for MGM to make, being more associated with glossy, well-lit family films than dark film noir. This movie is brightly lit most of the time, and the characters are more in control of their destinies than is normal. They still meet a typical noirish end.

    Despite a few flaws, this is still a fine film and is well transferred to DVD by Warners.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not far from the original 1.37:1.

    This is a very good transfer with a few minor flaws. Sharpness is not one of them. Throughout the film the sharpness and level of detail is excellent. There are a couple of scenes that are soft, either intentionally due to soft lensing or a result of the frame being zoomed in the lab. Otherwise the transfer is exemplary, with a little film grain to make it look authentic.

    Contrast and brightness are very good as well. There are some deep blacks in this monochrome transfer, and whites are quite pure as well. There is a little low level noise from time to time, but nothing serious. There is some moiré at 39:38.

    I did not notice any other film to video artefacts. There are some film artefacts, the worst of which are some dark scratches on the left of frame which appear for almost exactly ten minutes from 10:00 onwards - this may be an entire reel. Otherwise, apart from some faint scratches from time to time, the worst of the artefacts are small white specks which appear infrequently.

    Optional English subtitles are available. Not every piece of dialogue is subtitled, but there is enough for the hard of hearing to work out what is going on.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change placed at 38:34. This is stupidly placed in the middle of a scene and is therefore somewhat disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. The audio has been very well transferred, with no obvious defects apart from some background hiss. Tonal range is limited due to the mono recording, but what you hear is basically what you would hear in a cinema, so it does the job well. Upper frequencies are a little thin, but there is a reasonable amount of bass information present.

    The bass helps the music score of the aptly-named George Bassman, which is mainly of an excessively dramatic style. Not the best score you will hear for a film of this genre, unfortunately, but most of the time it doesn't draw too much attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The static menu has some of the music score as background.

Introduction-Richard Jewell (Film Historian / USC Professor) (5:01)

    A brief introduction to the film, the main themes and its history.

Featurette-TNT Documentary - The John Garfield Story (57:40)

    A long documentary that charts the life and career of Garfield, born Julius Garfinkle in New York in 1913. There are interviews with people who knew him and worked with him, including actors Lee Grant, Patricia Neal and the late Hume Cronyn. There is also an impressive array of people who have something to say about him, including Joanne Woodward, Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Danny Glover and Martin Scorsese. Garfield was part of the Group Theater, which would develop The Method, and Garfield's performances on film are a lot more intense and understated than most of his contemporaries. He had a bad heart brought on by rheumatic fever as a young man, and died not long after being unjustly blacklisted as a Commie sympathiser at the ripe old age of 39 from a coronary thrombosis. While his death at the home of a mistress is described, rumours that he expired during the sex act are not mentioned.

    The show is well narrated by Garfield's daughter and features clips from most of his movies.

Gallery-Behind-The-Scenes Image Gallery (5:44)

    Exactly what it says, a lot of behind the scenes and publicity photos as well as some poster art.

Theatrical Trailer (2:23)

    An original trailer for the film in reasonable condition.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release is identical to the UK Region 2. The only difference between these and the US Region 1 is that the latter has a trailer for the inferior 1981 remake.

Summary

    The best version I've seen of this film, and unlikely to be bettered.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A satisfactory extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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