The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, adapted by Charlotte Greig

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James M. Cain season on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 30 November 2013
Memorably filmed - albeit in bowdlerized form - in 1946 with Lana Turner and John Garfield in the main roles, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a morality tale that twists and turns until one of the protagonists meets his expected comeuppance.  The story focuses on life amongst the dispossessed; those who have failed to achieve their personal American Dreams and will employ every means possible - whether legal or illegal - to achieve their aims.  Throughout the tale Frank Chambers (Ronan Summers) keeps looking forward to the day when everything will be perfect and he and Cora Papadakis (Samantha Dakin) can live perfect lives together, but as the story unfolds, we realize that this time will never come.  However along the way author James M. Cain takes pot-shots at a legal system where niceties invariably prevent justice from being done, and lawyers such as Sackett (Kerry Shale) inevitably profit from their clients' misfortunes.
The Postman offers terrific possibilities for melodramatic presentation on any media.  As Kate McAll's production unfolded, however, I became less and less concerned about what happened to the characters.  Perhaps this was due to the rather hackneyed structure of the adaptation, in which Frank acted as first person narrator re-telling the events of the book direct to listeners.  This technique recalled that used in many of the productions in Radio 4's Marlowe season, broadcast in 2011: if it's a hard-boiled American text of the Thirties or the Forties, use the cynical narrator.  Add to that the American accents, which tended to waver somewhat - especially as the tale approached its climax.
Nonetheless the story had a certain ghoulish fascination, if only to remind us of the depths to which people will sink in order to achieve their aims.