I think that James M. Cain's writing is overrated because of the classic movies that have been made from a few of his novellas. His output over his lifetime resembles that of a lot of other Hollywood writers who had one or two good ideas and kept recycling them till they had no value anymore (James Hilton).
The characters in this story were all terrible people who behaved badly. The sexuality was novel (even if low-key) and Hollywood must have missread this "interest" as "popularity". They would have had a hit anyway, because all the non-readers would want to be in the audience to see what all the fuss was about.
Considering Frank's deep passion for Cora, it's surprising that he found a new girl to sleep with less than a few hours after she boarded her train. Considering Cora's undying love for Frank, she seemed pretty damned indifferent to his cheating, even though she was with his child.
There's so much wrong with all the characters in this story that I can't understand the continued attraction, except that people may want to look at this book in the same way rubber-neckers crane to see a car wreck.
Nobody does this genre better than James Cain. For the time that he wrote it is incredible what he got past censorship. Great book, super movie.
Never saw the movies. I can see why some would call this a classic, but for me, it was average at best.
I knew that this book was about a torrid passion, but I hadn't realized just how gritty it is! Frank is a greasy, unscrupulous coward who listens only to his impulses regardless of consequence, as for Cora, she is manipulative and conniving stopping at nothing to get her way: these are not likeable characters! Yet, their destiny is fascinating: how deep into squalor will they sink? Will they get away with their crimes? Is it really love or fear of betrayal that links them together? Quickly enough their fate careens out of their hands, it can only end badly!
I can see why the short direct sentences, the dark themes and the dénouement would appeal to Camus. However much man may want to control his existence, his life is actually beyond his grasp.
I must admit though: What's with the title?
The ending was thoroughly unsatisfying, though I can't think of one point in the 100 pages that I wasn't completely engrossed. The title of the book has to do with Frank's situation at the end of the novel. Cain had a discussion with a fellow author about the anxiety felt when waiting for news about the publication status of a manuscript. The parallels between Cain's friend and Frank led to the book being called what it's called.
And me who was looking that postman! Now, where did they get that tittle? Old book, old style: we've come a long way in crime novel since that was written. Well written, this book, even with its feel of big brother cops everywhere, carries a good court action and the end is a shocker that you don't see coming. All in all a good "thriller" of the first hour. It certainly paved the way to today's crime writers. But I did miss that postman. Now Cora, "kiss me..."
"The Postman Always Rings Twice" is one of those great tough guy noir novels set in Los Angeles of the '30s.
Bad young guy falls for a young married woman ....but that doesn't last for long...her married state, that is.
They attempt, then fail, then try again, and succeed in removing the husband, permanently, from the scene, all the while re-defining 'tough love'.
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