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Frank Chambers (John Garfield) drifts into a dusty rural California town, in search of a good meal. At the diner, he finds a meal, a job, and a beautiful woman named Cora (Lana Turner). Within a small bit of time, Frank and Cora have a passionate affair. But Cora is married already, to a man she doesn't love. She wants to start over and live a new life with Frank, but not lose the diner. They see the murder of Cora's husband Nick as a perfect solution. How will they deal with the consequences of their actions, and will they get caught?

The better-known adaptation of ''Literature/ThePostmanAlwaysRingsTwice'', it is considered an important addition to the FilmNoir genre.

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!!Tropes used by the film:

* AdaptationDyeJob: Cora has black hair in the novel, but she's played by the blonde Lana Turner.
* {{Bowdlerise}}: Notorious even in its day for toning down the source material.
* DeadHandShot: How Cora's death is revealed after Frank crashes the car.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: Cora wants more than flipping burgers in a diner--and she definitely doesn't want to play nursemaid for Nick's sister.
* DownerEnding: They got away with the murder, but Cora is now dead. Frank is convicted of murdering her, even though she died in a car accident that was genuinely an accident.
* TheDrifter: Frank is just wandering from town to town when he meets Cora and Nick.
* FeetFirstIntroduction: Cora, in the most memorable scene in the picture. Following Frank's MaleGaze, the camera starts at her feet, pans up to (and lingers on) her [[ShesGotLegs shapely legs]], then cuts to reveal her wearing shorts and a midriff-baring top. She makes an impression.
* FemmeFatale: Cora, who lures Frank into murder.
* HeyItsThatVoice: [[WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones Fred Flintstone]] attempts to {{blackmail}} Frank and Cora at one point.
* LaserGuidedKarma: With a dose of UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode and its insistence that you CantGetAwayWithNuthin. Cora and Frank get away with Nick's murder--but after the car wreck that kills Cora, Frank is convicted of murdering her, even though it wasn't really an accident.
* ThePerfectCrime: They left no evidence that they killed Nick. Indeed, one wonders why Cora's lawyer didn't take her to trial and win an acquittal instead of taking a manslaughter plea.
* TitleDrop: Frank notes that when a person is expecting to get a letter, it's alright if you don't hear it the first time, because the postman always rings twice. They got off murdering Nick scot-free, but Cora is now dead and Frank on his way to recieve the death penalty. He says that the postman has indeed rung a second time for each of them. This is different than the novel. James M. Cain admits that the title was mostly a non-sequitur.
* TheVamp: Cora uses her feminine wiles to ensnare Frank. If you ever want to try this, it helps to look like Lana Turner.
* UglyGuyHotWife: To the point of absurdity, with the scorching hot Cora married to dumpy diner owner Nick. Somewhat unconvincingly explained by Cora--she married Nick because she was tired of everyone else in town hittin gon her.
* WomanInWhite: Cora dresses entirely in white throughout the film, save for two scenes in which she wears [[WomanInBlack black]].

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