Pulp Fiction: James M. Cain

The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1934
in the 1947 3rd Pocket Book edition with Cover art from Tom Dunn

James M. Cain (1892-1977) crime novelist, script writer and journalist is considered to be one of the foremost
representatives of the Hard-Boiled pulp fiction genre, who became the basis fodder for the Film Noir movies of
the 1940's-1950's. But he also wrote more melodramatic stories and he has been called (by Francis Nevins, Jr.)
- The Chronicler of Sexual Obsession.

Many of his books have been filmed and maybe the most famous of these adaptions are 1946 The Postman Always
Rings Twice. The Novel became a sensation on it's release in February 1934. It's reputation grew and there was a
flood of reprintings and pocket book editions, and this not just in the US but in the whole world including Sweden.
A Book that defined the Noir genre

The Story takes place in the aftermath of the big depression, when millions of americans were forced into unemploy-
ment, rootlessness and alienation, and it's about the drifter Frank Chambers who by chance meets the ex-greek,
Nick Papadakis, owner of a roadside bar, and his much younger and very attractive wife Cora.
Hmm, yes that sounds like prime fodder for a Film Noir, and there's an explosion of attraction between Frank and
Cora. Very soon they've sex in every place possible when Nick's away.

Both Frank and Cora are rotten to the core, and soon Cora talks Frank into murdering poor Nick. That's no gratitude
for him employing Frank in his business. The style of prose is simple and straight to the point without any literary ex-
periments. But, even though the love couple is very unlikeable and just 2 predators in the human jungle, this is some
sort of Love Story with the feeling of despair and darkness accumulating as the nasty story is progressing.
Mistrust, doomed love, despair and desperation - and the worlds malignant forces out to trip you
= Ultimate Noir
and this novel is a masterpiece in the genre

The Book was adapted to film the 1st time in 1942 by the Italian Maestro Luchino Visconti in Ossessione (Köttets lust)
in some sort of early Neo-Realistic style, and then in the US classic from 1946 with John Garfield and Lana Turner as
Frank and Cora. Turner is good as the pure evil Femme Fatale murderess and John Garfield ditto as the moody looser
anti-hero, John Garfield were always great in all his films.
Another film version was made in 1981 with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson (the woman on the pocket book cover
above does resemble Jessica Lange a bit, or .... ?



Other James M. Cain film adaptions are:

Double Indemnity in 1944 with Barbara Stanwyck and
Fred MacMurray (in the pic) and the great Edward G. Robinson, and directed by genius Billy Wilder.
Read more about this on my Film Noir section (in swedish though at the moment). One of the greatest Film Noir's
ever made and with dialogue as fast and hard as lashes from a whip, or bullets from a Thompson submachine gun

US DVD
Love's Lovely Counterfeit, 1942 in a US Signet 1957 pocket book edition.
This novel was filmed in 1956 as Slightly Scarlet - Read more about this on my Film Noir section
(in swedish though at the moment).
Then we have I.A. the adaption Mildred Pierce from 1945 with Joan Crawford

 

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