If after seeing Jack Nicholson's and Jessica Lange's names on The Postman Always Rings Twice cast list you've expected to watch a great film you will be most likely unpleasantly surprised. The Postman Always Rings Twice from 1981 is a remake. And as it often happens with movie remakes this is not a very good one. Bob Rafelson has tried to make a more modern and open-minded version of the film but while he succeeds in this attempt, the movie lacks heart and it barely keeps you involved into any of the events that happen.
The film is based on James M. Cain's novel and it is about the attractive and unsatisfied wife Cora (Jessica Lange) of Greek roadside saloon owner Nick Papadakis (John Colicos) and the crude vagabond Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) who is incidentally hired by Nick. Cora and Frank start an uneven affair that finally evolves in a plan for murdering her husband. Naturally, there are complications of all kinds and various fatal coincidences happen all the time. How everything will end is up to you to discover if you decide to see the movie.
While the plot is moderately interesting and could be a premise for a decent movie, in reality The Postman Always Rings Twice does not effectively turn the plot into a good feature. Motivation of the main characters changes quite too often for such important decisions they have to take. Cora's and Frank's behavior is frankly chaotic. At the same time, the pacing is somehow slow. There are too many coincidences for a serious drama. And in addition to all of these, there is not enough heart in the movie as I've already mentioned. The audience cannot dive deeply into the film and cannot associate with its characters.
The acting of the leads is overall good but the truth is that Jack Nicholson being one of the greatest actors of our time has had many better performances than this. Jack demonstrates a solid acting as usual but he does not seem to be the perfect match for his role since he does not present to the viewer a real look and feel of a hard-hearted drifter. Jessica Lange is an appropriate choice for the part of Cora but another unsuccessful side of the movie is that there is not enough chemistry between Cora and Frank. Even the famous sex scenes between them seem somehow forced and unnatural. John Colicos makes a good portrayal of Nick Papadakis and there is a short appearance of Anjelica Huston which is also not bad but both are not enough to compensate the lack of genuine passion and involvement in the picture.
1981's The Postman Always Rings Twice is mildly intriguing and unfortunately even less engaging. It has some sparks here and there and it is not a complete waste of time but the main question should be is it worth watching when there are so many other great movies released through the years. The answer could vary depending on who's asking. In general, if you are a more casual movie viewer you can skip this film and watch one of the better pictures starring either some of these actors or whoever else. If you are seriously into the movies and you've already seen thousands of films, well, you can see this one too.