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The Postman Always Rings Twice

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The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1934 novel by James M. Cain that was made into three movies.

The 1946 film starred Lana Turner and John Garfield as the deviant couple, Cecil Kellaway, and Hume Cronyn. It was directed by Tay Garnett.

The story is one about a drifter who stops at a rural diner for a meal and soon goes to work there. The diner is operated by a young, beautiful woman and her much older husband of foreign extraction. The wife and drifter have an affair. The wife (the eventual femme fatale) is tired of her situation married to a man she does not love working at a diner that she hates. She and the drifter scheme to murder the husband in order to get his insurance and start a new life. Their first attempt at the murder is a failure, but they eventually succeed, and are acquitted of the crime at trial. They plan for a future together, but as they seem to be prepared to live "happily ever after" the woman dies in a car accident.
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Except for two scenes in the 1946 version in which Turner wears black (one when she contemplates suicide and the other when she goes to her mother's funeral), Lana Turner wears nothing but white in the film. The film was also voted #49 on the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Love Stories list.

The 1943 Italian film entitled Ossessione (Obsession) was directed by Luchino Visconti and starred Clara Calamai and Massimo Girotti. Cain was not credited as the author of the story, although it was directly derived from his work; wartime conditions made the pursuit of legal action by Cain against the producers most impractical even if he had chosen to pursue such.

The 1981 remake, based on a screenplay by David Mamet and directed by Bob Rafelson, starred Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.

The title is seen as something of a non sequitur; nowhere in the novel does a postman character appear, nor is one even alluded to. When asked for an explanation, Cain stated that the manuscript had been rejected by 13 publishers prior to being accepted for publication on his 14th attempt, so that when the publisher asked him what he wanted the work to be entitled he drew on this experience and suggested "The Postman Always Rings Twice".


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