Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing. But stealing his car, that's larceny."

Those were the words of John Garfield, playing Frank the drifter in the original 1946 production of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Garfield played opposite Hollywood bombshell Lana Turner, who played Cora, the sex-starved wife of Nick, a simple and naive middle-aged restaurant owner. Personally, I would have gone for Audrey Totter, who plays Madge, the other other woman in the film. Then again, maybe it's just me and redheads. I suppose it's merely a coincidence that people say I remind them of Jack Nicholson, who played opposite Jessica Lange in the 1981 remake.

I got my chance to see the film last night on the Mall, where they put up a big screen for Monday nights this summer, and afterwards closed the nearest Metrorail entrance early so hundreds of us could all pile like sardines into the next one two blocks away. (You see, keeping it open that late on the Mall would have been a security risk, so they sent us all to the one right next to the main USDA building. Duh...) Anyway, the film was pretty hot stuff for its day, which only proves that it wasn't my generation that brought sex and violence to Hollywood, but the last one. I can still remember my Dad's stories about being with the USAF for the occupation of Germany, and how the guys in his outfit were all acting like... well, you know.

But getting back to the movie...

At the end, before doing the "dead man walking" thing, Frank confesses to the priest. I wish the following were so easy:

"Father, you were right. It all works out. I guess God knows more about these things than we do. Somehow or other, Cora paid for Nick's life with hers. And now I'm going to. Father, would you send up a prayer for me and Cora, and if you could find it in your heart, make it that we're together, wherever it is? (The priest nods)"

So what's God gonna do with Nick? And who can guarantee this pair of twisted lovers will end up where Frank thinks they will, as opposed to... well, you know. Then again, it was through one deception upon another that Frank and Cora created their own hell on earth. Nick, in the meantime, illustrated how "love is blind" at one point, playing this little number on guitar:

"I'm not much to look at, nothing to see
Just glad I'm living, lucky to be
I've got a woman, crazy for me
She's funny that way."

(Note: Click on the movie title near the top of this entry for a blow-by-blow account, including some of the riveting dialogue. If you don't that much time, read this synopsis of the novel.)

No comments: