Cinema Sutra: The Postman Always Rings Twice

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The Postman Always Rings Twice

The movie: The 1981 version of the film (with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson) is a remake of the 1946 Lana Turner/John Garfield classic, itself adapted from the book by crime novel giant James Cain (who also wrote Double Indemnity). Nicholson is a drifter who stumbles into a rural café, gets a job, and enjoys heavy chemistry and eventual relations with the smoking-hot young wife who works there (Lange). Eventually, they plot to murder her husband, but — as is usually the case in crime thrillers — things don’t quite go as planned…

The scene: Despite their shared tension, sexual and otherwise, when Nicholson goes to make his after-hours move, Lange’s not buying it — at least at the beginning. A struggle ensues; she fights him off for a while, but eventually she lets him mash his peckers to hers. From there she pulls away (somewhat teasingly) and he pursues, catching her around the waist and dropping to his knees. Eventually she capitulates, they clear off a baker’s table, and — in one of the hottest scenes (I think) in the history of mainstream film — they put the hardwood to very good use.

What you need:
• a sun dress
• a sturdy table

The mechanics: Like last week, this is more a lesson in Cro-Magnon seduction than anything you’re likely to want to try — or succeed with. But if you adjust for the Hollywood overplay, this scene becomes a second-week-in-a-row primer in the conversion of tension (in this case the attraction/repulsion Lange feels for Nicholson) into raw desire, and the resulting horizontal dividends.

Sadly, again this week the scene begins with the guy forcing himself on the woman (something we never endorse), but at least in this case bad Jack had an inkling of Lange’s inclination. So instead of ripping her clothes off, he goes for a kiss, giving her the chance to reciprocate, which she does. From then she’s on equal footing, backing herself against the wall, a pretty overt “take me” move. And though she fights a little more, when he drops down, puts his face between her legs, and then picks her up by the waist, she’s clearly sold. (Moral: face between the legs is good! Picking up woman and placing her on table is good!)

I love what follows: She slows them so she can push the bread loaves and flour to the floor, fling the butcher’s knife away (which for a second you wonder if she’ll stab him with), and then taunts him with an, “All right, come on. Come on. Come on!” (Moral: taunting and daring is hot!) He then places what to me looks like an overly forceful grip on her fulcrum, pushes up her dress and (it’s Hollywood) manages an effortless entry despite them both still being dressed.

Just to show who’s really boss, Lange then rolls over on top of him and impressively tears open her dress (she is stunning). They end with a kiss, now intimate, now conspiratorial, and all the violence of both the argument and the quickie fully dissipates. That’s how to end a fight!

Lesson we learn:
Onscreen, guys can bully women into wanting to have (and having) sex with them; in life this should not even be considered. But with the right person at the right time, there can be a little struggle that both parties know is playful, and it can Tabasco things up considerably. Whether the prompting is an argument or just overflowing lust, pushing your willing partner up against the wall, dropping to your knees, picking her up and depositing her on a sound table for some hot, in-clothes fucking is straight-out excellent. Just know that everything that’s already on the table is likely to get smashed — a small price to pay for some of the best of spontaneous sex.

Click here to read — and learn — more in Nerve’s Hollywood Sex Scene Database.