DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) - (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Dec 23, 2003.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)


    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1946
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 113 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Academy
    Audio: DD Mono
    Color/B&W: B&W
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Snap Case






    The Feature:
    Well, the people have spoken. On January 6th, Warner Bros. is about to release five of the classic films that were voted on by AOL customers through an internet poll that was conducted over the summer. Listed as possible choices were a number of great old classics but the five that were eventually selected were: The Wind And The Lion, The Days Of Wine And Roses, Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (both 1932 & 1941 versions have been released on a single disc), Where The Boys Are and finally The Postman Always Rings Twice. I’ll be honest, I was disappointed with a couple of the selected choices however, I would venture a guess that we’ll see the remainder of the unselected choices being released during 2004.

    This is a film that by all accounts wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk in terms of its style and success, but it did have a lot going for it. The film was directed by Tay Garnett Based on the book by written by James M. Cain. Although technically, not the original version (the original version entitled Ossessione directed by Luchino Visconti, is a 1943 Italian neo-realist noir), the 1946 version of The Postman Always Rings Twice is, by the sometimes rather complex and convoluted meaning of the term, a quintessential “film noir” if ever there was one. This was an MGM picture which was somewhat atypical for the studio known more for their classic debonair types, rather than the crime – gangster genre that Warner Bros. became so famous for. In fact even the star, John Garfield was on loan to MGM from Warner Bros.

    After hitching a ride from the local District Attorney (unbeknownst to him at the time), Frank Chambers (played by John Garfield) a drifter, who notices a sign at a roadside diner that says "Man Wanted" (the sign will eventually have more of a significant meaning than you can imagine). After he stops, he is greeted by the owner of the diner, Nick Smith (played by Cecil Kellaway) who offers Frank the job of handyman as well as a hamburger just to show him how good the food is. While Frank is in the kitchen, he soon discovers Nick’s gorgeous wife, Cora Smith (played by the beautiful Lana Turner). It’s clear from the start that Cora knows what side of her bread is buttered and while she flirts with the new handyman, initially she resists his advances.

    Eventually, Cora seems to have had enough of the diner and her much older husband who seems to pay her very little interest and she eventually convinces Frank that a household accident would rid her of all her problems and offer her an opportunity to be with her newly smitten handyman. After the attempt is botched, Nick is released from the hospital and Frank decides to distance himself from Cora.

    He winds up in Los Angeles and after a chance encounter, he runs into Nick who insists upon his return to the diner. After the diner is sold out from under Cora, she becomes enraged and finally decides Nick must go, once and for all. They set out on a road trip after getting Nick tanked and plan a staged car accident but things don’t quite go as planned as the first passerby is the D.A. who has been tailing the pair. After being coerced into signing a complaint against Cora, Frank and Cora find themselves at odds with each other. Through some brilliant maneuvering by Cora’s defense attorney Arthur Keats (played by a very young Hume Cronyn), it seems as though their legal troubles are over… but are they really?

    Lana Turner is excellent as the femme fatale who is as gorgeous as any actress to have ever graced the big screen. Her “dumb like a fox” performance combined with her good looks helps underscore John Garfield’s tough guy with a “streak of bad luck” persona which sadly and ironically, closely resembled him in real life as well.

    While I have read many criticisms about the so-called lack of "magnetism" between Turner and Garfield, I believe that was the intent. There was a great sense of tension and mistrust always present almost as though they "thought" they should have been together but ultimately, were never meant to be. It was that very sense of tension and obvious mistrust which sets the uneasy mood of the film.

    I suspect many will be familiar with the inferior 1981 remake starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange which wasn't necessarily a bad film -- far from it, in fact. It simply lacks the atmosphere of the older version. Though the remake is said to more closely resemble the sexual transgressions of the pair from the book but lacks the desperation which is said to be key in the novel. Unfortunately, the 1946 version didn't have the same luxury due to censorships issues which would have been prohibitive.

    Finally, the disc is housed is Warner’s typical (c’mon, they’re not that bad) snapper case with the adorning cover art which is virtually identical to the U.S. theatrical poster from the period.



    Video:
    This is yet another example of a wonderful transfer of a classic film from Warner Bros. It’s not perfect, but I have very little to complain about either.

    First off, what struck me was the depth and level of grayscale. Similar to the recent Casablanca SE, and yet somewhat difficult to describe, the varying degree of contrast within the B&W image was quite astounding. Equally as impressive was the level of shadow detail. Typical of the period, close-ups of the male actors were razor sharp while those of the females were shot soft and I was quite impressed with the image detail.

    The black levels were as good as we would expect (certainly above average) and the contrasting whites were always crisp, showing up nicely.

    While haloing was never an issue, there were some significant scratches worthy of mentioning. A good example can be seen around the 19:50 mark of the film and unfortunately they do hang around for a minute or so. There are other signs of dust or blemishes throughout the film sporadically, but weren’t distracting enough for me to admonish the presentation.

    Lastly, there is a rather minimal amount of grain present and what we are left with is a presentation that is certainly film-like.

    All in all, for a film that is almost 60 years old, a most impressive offering.



    Audio:
    Similar to my video notes, I have very little to complain about and much to praise. The DD mono track that is offered up is an effective track that performs pleasingly.

    Dialogue clarity was never an issue and was always clear and intelligible with a sense of dynamics that one would expect from a track of this period.

    There was a very slight amount of hiss present which, if it were any less, wouldn’t exist. There was a nice sense of tonal fidelity which sounded raw and un-tampered with.

    Bravo on a very nice job…!!



    Special Features:
    There are a couple of nice special features included on the disc starting with:
    [*] An Introduction by Richard Jewell who does a good job at giving us a brief overview of some of the film’s highlights including the famous lipstick scene where Garfield sees Turner for the first time in the kitchen. Brief, but interesting. Duration: 5:02 minutes.
    [*] Up next is a documentary entitled The John Garfield Story which is an absolutely fantastic bio on the legendary star which is narrated by his daughter Julie Garfield. The extensive special feature delves deep into the history of the great actor whose life was cut short at a very early age. Discussed is his health, his history with Warner Bros. and his involvement during the witch-hunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee. For fans of Garfield and of films of the period, this documentary should not be missed. Duration: 57:37 minutes.
    [*] There are a collection of Behind The Scenes Image Gallery still photographs… Hmmm, not surprising that Lana is featured in most of them.
    [*] Finally, the Theatrical Trailers are included for both the original 1946 and the 1981 remake versions of the film. Both trailers are in reasonably good condition. It would be nice to have the remake re-released in its proper OAR.



    Final Thoughts:
    I’ve been anxious for this title to be released on DVD since day one and finally the wait has been worthwhile. As a huge fan of the genre, it might not necessarily be the perfect noir, but what it lacks in content, it surely makes up for with atmosphere. In a film with a title that’s every bit as clever as the movie itself, if you’re a fan of film noir, this is a must have.

    With a healthy furnishing of supplements, and an A/V presentation that has become (dare I say it), almost expected, this disc is sure to not only please the participants of the AOL poll, but all fans of classic film.

    Highly Recommended…!!




    Release Date: January 6th, 2004
     
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    YESSSS!!! (hands pumping in the air)

    i forgot its only 2 weeks away.

    glad to hear the a/v is good ( truthfully i wasn't all that impressed with To Have And Have Not- the last vintage WB title i watched).

    i find it curious that you mention the lack of magnetism between Turner and Garfield. to me, they had blistering chemistry (my favorite scene is when they are in the DAs office(?) and one of them offers the other a match (haven't seen it in 10 yrs so the details are fuzzy).


    Boy am i looking forward to this one.

    and i do believe that Warner has said that all the also rans from the poll will be filtered out throughout the year.
     
  3. Tommy G

    Tommy G Screenwriter

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    Yay, no more waiting till it comes on TCM again!
     
  4. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Glad to hear it to, but I loved To Have And Have Not, though it wasn't quite as impressive as a couple of their other recent Bogart titles; Warners work in this field is so good that when they produce anything less than perfect it seems a little disappointing doesn't it? Imagine though getting this standard of restoration and transfer 12 months ago - would it have been criticised at all?

    Great review Herb - looking forward to this!

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  5. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    before i forget, thanks Herb [​IMG]

    my complaint about THAHN was that the black levels were blah, and the greyscale looked quite limited.
    one of the must stunning B&W transfers i have ever seen is WBs The Bad And The Beautiful.
    if people don't understand the anal interest in black levels and greyscale, then that disc will educate 'em.
     
  6. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    But when you've just watched a BBC showing of a less than impressive print of Fort Apache, even an average DVD transfer can seem like a bloody miracle [​IMG]

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  7. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Fort Apache, man, how badly do we need a good transfer of that movie on DVD? I would be all over that.

    Good to hear that the original Postman was handled well.
     
  8. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Excellent. Of the 5 AOL winners, this is the only one I wanted (and I sure hope some of the films not selected by AOL [sidetrack rant]I'm still pissed that they let AOL users pick - I'm certain I buy more dvds than the typical AOL user, but I get no voice [​IMG] [/sidetrack rant] do get released).

    Thanks for the review. [​IMG]
     
  9. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    Thanks to Herb for another super review.....

    POSTMAN is one of my favorite noirs, and I'm glad to hear that WB has given it a deluxe treatment. I'm especially pleased to hear that THE JOHN GARFIELD STORY documentary has been included. I saw it earlier this year when it aired on TCM, and it's a superb and exceptionally well done program.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

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    Does this street on 1/6 or 1/13? Review above says 1/6, DVD Empire says 1/13.
     
  11. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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  12. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Wanna bet? :p)

    (Yeah, I know, AOL sucks. [​IMG] )

    Anyway, glad to hear it's a nice disc, I'll be picking it up along with DJ&MH.
     
  13. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    John, I also saw "Fort Apache" on the BBC, I agree the print wasn't very spectacular [​IMG]

    I remember seeing TPART on TCM a while back, good film noir. Why are there so few good film noir movies on dvd ?
     
  14. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    But the film is great isn't it? Roll on a decent DVD release!

    BTW, according to hitch_fan at thedvdforums.com, the BFI is set to release three Otto Preminger noirs in February in R2; Where The Sidewalk Ends, Whirlpool and Fallen Angel [​IMG]

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  15. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    John, I agree "Fort Apache" is great, I'm also glad to hear that the BFI is releasing a pack of noir films. I'm actually surprised "Fallen Angel" is getting the dvd treatment, as far as I know it was never released on vhs !
     
  16. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    That I buy more dvds than the typical AOL user? Hell yeah. How much do you want to bet? [​IMG]
     
  17. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    This is a blind purchase for me.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Jon Hertzberg

    Jon Hertzberg Screenwriter

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    Very happy about this one, as well as with the inclusion of the excellent John Garfield documentary.

    Speaking of To Have and Have Not, when will Warner release The Breaking Point, the even better interpretation of the same story, from the vaults? Garfield plays Captain Harry Morgan to perfection in what would be one of his best and final performances. Never available on home video, The Breaking Point shows up on TCM from time to time.

    Jon
     
  19. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    John H,
    you were right. i watched all of THAHN last night and it looked fine.
    really only some minor(but frequent) blemishes and a slightly softer quality than some of the best B&Ws i've seen.
    blacks and grey scale looked pretty good.

    i was too harsh on it earlier, from just the few scenes i had scanned thru.
     

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