Movie Review: The Postman Always Rings Twice

Movie Title: The Postman Always Rings Twice

Director: Tay Garnett

Stars: Lana Turner, John Garfield

Release Date: 1946


This film tells the story of a drifter who ends up at a quiet roadside diner. The drifter (Garfield) is looking for work. The diner is run by a husband and wife team, but the wife doesn’t love her older husband. The wife, Cora (Turner), and the drifter, Frank, fall in love and plot to kill Cora’s hapless husband. Frank had jokingly suggested that murder might be a viable option to their problems. Cora wanted the restaurant and Cora and Frank wanted to be with each other. After an initial aborted attempt to murder the husband both Frank and Cora are able to successfully carry out the act. With the help of an amoral attorney, they escape conviction.

Unfortunately for Frank and Cora, their relationship sours. Their loyalties to one another had been severely strained during the court case for the husband’s murder, and their nerves shot. Just when they begin to patch things up they are involved in a car accident in which Frank survives virtually unharmed, but Cora is killed. With suspicion already surrounding him, Frank is arrested and charged with Cora’s murder, for which he is actually innocent. Frank is sentenced to death for Cora’s murder, but maintains his innocence. Just before Frank’s sentence is carried out, he is confronted with evidence that links him and Cora to the death of her husband. With his death only minutes away, Frank admits to conspiring with Cora to kill her husband.

The clear message of this film is that no matter what you do, you cannot escape the consequences of your actions. While Frank and Cora got away with murder for a time, it eventually caught up with them. Another theme that was a bit less pronounced is that a relationship predicated by deceit is doomed to fail. Only honesty can lead to a strong and healthy relationship.

Frank’s lawyer is portrayed as the slimy type of lawyer that cares nothing of the moral culpability of his client. This stereotype is portrayed to perfection in this film. Frank’s lawyer even convinces Frank to turn against Cora in order to beat the charges against him.

The themes in this film are truly timeless. Despite the black-and-white format and the lack of modern visual effects, this movie will remain accessible to contemporary audiences due to the themes found in it.



  1. Good plot review, I’ve been getting into Film Noir lately and want to watch this one!

  2. I think you coud also like Ossessione (Obsession) the 1943 Luchino Visconti’s film: is based on the same novel but set in Italy.

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