“I’m getting tired of what’s right and wrong…”
A drifter (Jack Nicholson) begins a steamy affair with the wife (Jessica Lange) of his new boss (John Colicos), and soon the two are plotting to commit murder.
Remaking a certified cinematic classic is always tricky business, given that the question “Why bother?” lingers naggingly in one’s head. In this case, director Bob Rafelson and screenwriter David Mamet (whose distinctive voice is nowhere in sight) seem interested in creating a more “authentic” version of James M. Cain’s Depression-era novel, which they achieve primarily by incorporating explicit scenes of steamy sexuality between Cora (Lange) and Frank (Nicholson), and restoring cuckolded husband Nick Papadakis’s Greek ethnicity (he was simply “Nick Smith” in the 1946 version). Unfortunately, however, Rafelson and Mamet are unable to create a more interesting or compelling drama than that told in Tay Garnett’s MGM classic: while both Nicholson and Lange are excellent actors, they can’t compete with the iconic status of their predecessors (Lana Turner and John Garfield), and neither one is particularly well cast. With that said, Rafelson’s update is at the very least a visual treat: Sven Nykvist’s glowing cinematography is as seductive as always, and set designer George Jenkins effectively recreates a specific time and place in history. Nonetheless, this re-envisioning of Postman ultimately remains optional viewing rather than a must-see gem.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- John Colicos as Nick Papadakis
- George Jenkins’ Depression-era set designs
- Sven Nykvist’s cinematography
No, though film fanatics will likely be curious to at least check it out.