Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), directed by Tay Garnett.

At a California diner, a drifter strikes sparks with the owner's wife. After some sparring they fall in completely and decide to kill the husband, who has done nothing to deserve it. It takes two attempts, both fiascos. They're not very good at it and the police are on to them.

Then they are at the tender mercies of lawyers and courts. Love turns sour, they are blackmailed, and the furies deliver final justice.

If the movie resembles Double Indemnity (1944): James M. Cain wrote both books. This one has its moments, but the other film is stronger.

The best parts are the tense approaches to murder: can they do it? How will they do it? What could possibly go wrong? It's unusual to have two such heels as our heroes.

Lana Turner and John Garfield emote as much passion as the code allowed. In the film she says "You've been trying to turn me into a tramp since we first met", where the book has "Rip me!" (meaning her clothes).

The trial scenes are necessarily simplified. In the book the defense lawyer (the cooly amoral Hume Cronyn) get two insurance companies to wrangle a settlement which clears his clients.