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    The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Warner

    Jan 27 2014 07:00 PM | Cameron Yee in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    After a two-month delay, Warner Home Video completes delivery of Bob Rafelson’s 1981 remake of a film noir classic, based on the popular crime novel by James. M. Cain.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono), Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), French 1.0 DD (Mono), Other
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
    • Rating: R
    • Run Time: 2 Hr. 1 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 01/21/2014
    • MSRP: $19.98

    The Production Rating: 2.5/5

    Unemployed drifter Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) takes a job at a rural service station owned by Greek immigrant Nick Papadakis (John Colicos) and his much younger wife Cora (Jessica Lange). Cora, who seems like she'd rather be anywhere else, spends most of her days in the station diner serving the myriad of travelers passing through. Nick is oblivious to her dissatisfaction, putting most of his energy into the business (though that seems alright by Cora, considering the alternative). When Frank and Cora begin having a torrid affair, Nick remains clueless, never conceiving that his beautiful wife and trusted employee would eventually plot to kill him. Though they botch their first attempt on his life, the pair eventually make good on their scheme; but, they'll need a little help if they actually want to get away with it.

    Given a choice between likable characters and interesting ones, most would opt for the latter, but Bob Rafelson’s remake of author James M. Cain’s classic thriller doesn’t offer much of either. Nicholson’s turn as Frank has its charms at first, mainly in seeing how much the opportunistic rogue can get past his new boss, but that’s not enough to sustain a film that doesn’t go beyond people behaving badly and somehow avoiding the consequences. As Frank’s partner in crime, Lange provides plenty of heat and chemistry, but ultimately can’t do much with a role whose motivations are so thinly conceived the woman seems more bored than desperate. Indifference to the pair's fate ultimately comes as early as the middle of the second act, making their subsequent schemes and the repercussions an ineffectual slog. The third-act appearance of a rather striking Anjelica Huston provides some diversion, even though the scene comes out of nowhere and amounts to little more than an unnecessary trigger for the main characters’ relentlessly tumultuous relationship.

    Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

    Framed at 1.78:1 (a slight modification from its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer has its share of strengths, namely some great black levels and contrast despite some challenging, naturalistic cinematography. The predominantly earthy color palette doesn’t offer as many challenges, though scenes shot in full daylight exhibit satisfying depth and saturation. Detail is also excellent, holding up from wides to close ups, though some brief shots can have a slightly processed look to them. Flecks of dirt pop up here and there, but not enough to distract.

    Audio Rating: 3.5/5

    Dialogue in the 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Cues in the symphonic score reveal both a pleasing level of detail and depth.

    Special Features: 1.5/5

    • Scene Specific Commentary with Bob Rafelson, David Mamet, and Jack Nicholson (1:28:21): The new commentary, assembled from separate recordings from each of the participants, should please fans with its content, but the Blu-ray disc authors took a pretty unsophisticated approach by creating an entirely separate set of video files for the track, rather than using seamless branching off the main feature. Inevitably, it begs the question of whether a superior transfer could have been had with a smarter use of disc space, but then there’s only so much value to wondering what might have been, especially considering the more than satisfactory video quality.
    • Theatrical Trailer (2:53, HD)

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    Warner Home Video turns in a solid high definition presentation for an ultimately uninvolving variant of author James M. Cain’s crime thriller The Postman Always Rings Twice. Fans of the film should be pleased by the quality of the transfer and new audio commentary, but the release is unlikely to appeal to other parties.

    Reviewed by: Cameron Yee
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    I finally saw the original and probably won't be updating for this one, even though I love the story Jack Nicholson told about working himself up into a 'stiffie' to do the big kitchen table scene, but then realizing he'd be too embarrassed to come down to the set like that, and deciding to just 'act' it instead.