The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946 film)

1946 film by Tay Garnett

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1946 American film noir about a married woman and a drifter who fall in love, then plot to murder her husband... but even once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions.

Lana Turner as Cora Smith
John Garfield as Frank Chambers
Directed by Tay Garnett. Written by Harry Ruskin and Niven Busch, based on the 1934 novel by James M. Cain.
Their Love was a Flame that Destroyed!(taglines)

Frank Chambers

  • [to Madge Gorland] With my brains and your looks, we could go places.


Frank: Well, I've never liked any job I've ever had. Maybe the next one is the one I've always been lookin' for.
Driver: Not worried about your future?
Frank: Oh, I've got plenty of time for that. Besides, maybe my future starts right now.

Cora: My husband tells me your name is Frank.
Frank: That's right.
Cora: Well Frank, around here, you'll kindly do your reading on your own time.
Frank: Your husband, Nick told me I was through for the day and I thought he was boss around here.
Cora: The best way to get my husband to fire you would be not doing what I tell you to do.
Frank: Well, you haven't asked me to do anything - yet.
Cora: I want all these chairs painted.
Frank: All right. I'll look in the paper. Maybe I can find a sale on some cheap paint.
Cora: You won't find anything cheap around here! Look in the cupboard under the counter.
Frank: [He looks and finds a can of paint] As my friend Nick would say, 'That's wonderful.' Next time anybody makes a trip into town, they can pick up a paintbrush.
Cora: Look on the bottom shelf.
Frank: Well, what do you know about that. Why didn't you start this campaign of rehabilitation before I came? Or were you waiting for me?
Cora: Nick was saving that paint.
Frank: Nick saves a lot of things.
Cora: It's none of your business what he saves.
Frank: I didn't say it was. Only when I have something, I don't save it. What do you want to paint these chairs for. They look all right to me.
Cora: Because I want to make something of this place. I want to make it into an honest-to-goodness...
Frank: Well, aren't we ambitious? We want to make a lot of money so we can buy lots of pretty clothes. Or maybe we want to put a little aside for our husband and us in our old age?
[He grabs her and kisses her. She pulls away and reapplies her lipstick before leaving - without a word.]
Frank: [voiceover] For a couple of weeks then, she wouldn't look at me, or say a word to me if she could help it. I began to feel like a cheap nobody making a play for a girl that had no use for me. While I disturbed her, and I knew she hated me for that worst of all.

Cora: Frank, about that question?
Frank: What question?
Cora: Why I married Nick?
Frank: My answer is that Nick came along at the right time and with a wedding ring.
Cora: The wedding ring. It was the first thing he mentioned.
Frank: And you liked it. A certain reason.
Cora: You don't know the half of it. Frank, I-I hate to say this but, I wasn't ever, ever homely. So..
Frank: You must have had to fight off a lot of guys.
Cora: A lot of guys? All the guys. I don't especially like the way I look sometimes. But I never met a man since I was fourteen that didn't want to give me an argument about it.
Frank: Sure. And by the time Nick came along, well you were ready to marry anybody that owned a gold watch.
Cora: It seemed the best thing to do, from my angle. And as for him, I told him, I told him I didn't love him.
Frank: He said that would come in time.
Cora: Yeah.
Frank: But it didn't.
Cora: But I meant to stick by him, and that's why...
Frank: That's why you married him and retired. The undefeated champ.
Cora: Not one hundred percent undefeated. Not now.

Cora: Too bad Nick took the car.
Frank: Even if the car were here, we couldn't take it, not unless we want to spend the first night in jail. Stealing a man's wife, that's nothing. But stealing his car, that's larceny.

Cora: Frank, look. If I divorce Nick, he'll never give me a nickel. He'll keep the Twin Oaks and everything.
Frank: So? What do we care?
Cora: Yeah, but where are we headed?
Frank: What's the difference? Anywhere.
Cora: Oh anywhere, anywhere. Do you know where that is?
Frank: Anywhere we choose.
Cora: No, it isn't. It's back to hash-house for me, and for you, some parking lot where you wear a smock with 'Super Service' on it. I would just die if I saw you in a smock like that.
Frank: Well, I wore one at the Twin Oaks.
Cora: But that was mine. Oh, don't you see, Frank? You're smart. Others could be wearing the smocks and you could be manager.
Frank: Yeah. I can hardly wait.
Cora: Oh stop acting. You're ashamed of being smart. Well, I'm ashamed of standing out here begging for a ride that'll take me right back where I started.
Frank: You mean you want to go back, huh?
Cora: I want to be somebody. And if I walk out like this, I'll lose everything and I'll never be anybody. Oh, I love you Frank, and I want you, but not this way. Not starting out like a couple of tramps. I'm going back.

Cora: What are we going to do?
Frank: That's great comin' from you after you've been high-hatting me the way you have.
Cora: What else could I do? Oh Frank. Frank, if I'd only met you first.
Frank: Well...
Cora: Frank, do you love me?
Frank: Yes.
Cora: Do you love me so much that nothing else matters?
Frank: Yes.
Cora: There's, there's one thing we could do that would fix everything for us.
Frank: What? Pray for something to happen to Nick?
Cora: Something like that.
Frank: Cora!
Cora: Well, you suggested it yourself once, didn't you?
Frank: I was only joking.
Cora: Were you?
Frank: Yes, I was.
Cora: Why had you started to think about it a little?
Frank: Maybe I said it, but I didn't really mean it.
Cora: Well, I say it again now and I do mean it.
Frank: Cora!
Cora: Listen to me, Frank. I'm not what you think I am. I want to keep this place and work hard and be something, that's all. But you can't do it without love - at least a woman can't. I've made a big mistake in my life and I've got to be this way just once to fix it.
Frank: But they'd hang you for a thing like that.
Cora: Oh, but not if we do it right and you're smart Frank. You'll think of a way. Plenty of men have.
Frank: He never did anything to me.
Cora: But darling, can't you see how happy you and I would be together here, without him?
Frank: Do you love me, Cora?
Cora: That's why you've got to help me. It's because I do love you.
Frank: Yes you do. You couldn't get me to say yes to a thing like this if you didn't

Frank: We've been double-crossed, Cora. That lawyer Keats, he's nothing but a police stool pigeon.
Cora: I've been double-crossed, not you. Oh I see it all, now. I see why I had to drive the car, not you. And that other time, why it was me that had to do it and not you.
Frank: That's not so.
Cora: Oh yes it is. I used to think to myself the reason I fell for you was because you were smart. Now I find out that you are smart. Double-crossed, hah! I'll say I was. You and that Keats fixed it up so that I tried to kill you too. That was to get you clear. And then you two fixed it up to plead me guilty. Well, listen, Mr. Frank Chambers. When I get through, you'll find out there's such a thing as being too smart.

Frank: [after he and Cora are married] I can't remember that far back.
Cora: As far as I'm concerned, you imagined it even then.
Frank: Oh, dry up.
Cora: Notice his neck-tie, Mr. Keats. It's my wedding present to him. But the way he wears it, you'd think it was a noose around his neck.
Keats: [proposing a toast] Well, I can only think of fifteen or twenty reasons why you two should never be happy.

Frank: [about the affair he had with Madge] That other girl. She don't mean anything to me.
Cora: She told me you were going away with her.
Frank: Why didn't I? I planned to and I'll never come back. Why didn't I go away and never come back? Cause we're chained to each other, Cora.
Cora: Don't tell me you love me.
Frank: I do.
Cora: Oh, but love wouldn't mean a thing to me.
Frank: Do you hate me?
Cora: I don't know. But we've got to tell the truth for once in our lives.

Frank: [while driving] I've been waiting a long time for that kiss.
Cora: When we get home, Frank, then there'll be kisses, kisses with dreams in them. Kisses that come from life, not death.
Frank: I hope I don't wait.
Cora: Darling. [They kiss] Look out, Frank! [they crash]

Sackett: Suppose you got a stay of execution, a new trial, and acquittal of killing Cora. Then what? Last night, they auctioned off the fixtures of the Twin Oaks. The man who bought the cash register found a note in the back of the drawer. He brought it to me. It's addressed to you. Cora wrote it. It's a very beautiful note, Frank, written by a girl who loved a man very much. I imagine it was written earlier the very night she died. A note of farewell, isn't it?
Frank: She did try to run away that night.
Cora: And since she had no idea anyone would ever see that note but you, it therefore has in it just enough of a confession to convict you of helping her kill her husband. So, if you were to leave this room because you didn't kill her, you'd soon be right back here again for helping her kill Nick. What's the use?
Frank: Then, then what's gonna happen to me is not because I killed her?
Sackett: No, laddie. For killing Nick.
Frank: You know, there's somethin' about this that's like, well, it's like you're expectin' a letter that you're just crazy to get. And you hang around the front door for fear you might not hear him ring. You never realize that he always rings twice.
Sackett: What's that?
Frank: He rang twice for Cora. And now he's ringing twice for me, isn't he?
Sackett: That's about it.
Frank: The truth is, you always hear him ring the second time, even if you're way out in the back yard.




  • Their Love was a Flame that Destroyed!
  • Lana Turner. John Garfield. M-G-Marvelous!