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USA 1946. Dir: Tay Garnett. 113 min. 35mm

Hollywood’s first version of James M. Cain’s torrid novel stands with Double Indemnity (also based on a Cain story) as one of the quintessential examples of amour fou turned murderous in the tangled, treacherous noir universe. A handsome drifter (John Garfield) arrives at a shabby roadside café, where he is drawn into the seductive web of platinum-blonde Cora (Lana Turner), beautiful young wife of the aging proprietor, and joins with her in a deadly plot. As in Double Indemnity and Out of the Past, the action is recounted in fatalistic flashback. The Production Code Administration had previously opposed any Hollywood adaptation of Cain’s 1934 book, deeming it “unwholesome and thoroughly objectionable.” Bob Rafelson’s glossy 1981 remake, starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange and shot by Bergman’s Sven Nykvist, was more explicit sexually but less compelling.


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