Cover Hijinks of the Past

Even fifty years ago the marketing department of the book world was in full swing. Take, for example, the cover of A Reader's Respite's vintage paperback of James Cain's classic noir tale, The Postman Always Rings Twice:

Published in the late 1940's by Pocket Books, the art department came up with a drawing of the femme fatale Cora as a sultry blond bombshell.

Nevermind that the Cora that Cain created has black, curly hair and a darker much so that by only page three, she's lashing out because people might think her Mexican.

don't do it, Cora!!!

Of course, it's worth noting that the first hit film version of Cain's classic, featuring the sex-pot and couldn't-be-blonder-if-she-tried Lana Turner, had been released the year prior to the Pocket Books' edition and was a big influence on the cover art.

Bad cover or no, this short novel that packs a huge punch is still worth picking up even today. Despite gallant attempts, no filmmaker could ever convey the sheer psychological twisted-ness (is that a word? it is now.) of drifter Frank Chamber and waitress Cora Papadakis as they plot and scheme to do away with Cora's poor husband, Nick.

That Cain could manage to build such an incredible amount of tension and bring it to such an explosive and tragic ending in just 121 pages is nothing short of genius.

Worth a read folks, if you ever come across an old copy somewhere.


  1. After watching several Lana Turner movies I've come to the conclusion that she could walk through hurricane force winds and not have a hair out of place. Now that's some kind of hairspray!

  2. Heh, I'd like enough hair still to need that kind of hairspray :p

    Any chance you have ISBN #, page count and exact year of publication? Would love to put that cover up on Goodreads.

  3. As many times as I've heard people refer to this book, I've never read it or seen any of the movie versions. Now I really want to.

  4. Oh, inaccurate-to-the-story covers... why? Good to know they've always existed, right?

  5. I not only need to read this, I need the book with that cover! And Lana's 'do is what I would lovingly refer to as "helmet-head".

  6. You always make me laugh ... and now I want to read the book and see the movie. I've always heard it was a bit out there and wild.

  7. You all are cracking me up with the hairspray remarks....:)

    Misfit - info is on it's way to you, such as it is.

    Kathy - I read it in an hour and loved it. Interestingly, I didn't appreciate the punch it packed until that last 2 pages. I'm glad I read it.

  8. I loved the movie and am curious to know what I might think of the book. Lana Turner did a great job in the film!

  9. I so agree! I read this years ago and don't remember much except it was good.

  10. This is one of my favorites -- both book and movies.


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