The Postman Didn't Ring (1942)

68-69 mins | Drama | 3 July 1942

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HISTORY

All of the film's opening credits are handwritten on envelopes postmarked 1889. A 23 Mar 1942 studio press release asserted that producer Ralph Dietrich got the idea for the film from a newspaper story concerning "the discovery in Philadelphia some months ago of a mail bag, apparently the loot of a robbery some seventy-five years before." The story reported that the mail would be delivered by the post office to the addressees or their heirs. According to HR news items, Isabel Randolph was set for a "topline" role in the picture, and Rita Quigley was to be borrowed from Paramount. Richard Travis was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the production. The title may have been a parody of James Cain's famous 1934 novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice , which became the basis of a 1946 M-G-M film of the same name (see ... More Less

All of the film's opening credits are handwritten on envelopes postmarked 1889. A 23 Mar 1942 studio press release asserted that producer Ralph Dietrich got the idea for the film from a newspaper story concerning "the discovery in Philadelphia some months ago of a mail bag, apparently the loot of a robbery some seventy-five years before." The story reported that the mail would be delivered by the post office to the addressees or their heirs. According to HR news items, Isabel Randolph was set for a "topline" role in the picture, and Rita Quigley was to be borrowed from Paramount. Richard Travis was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the production. The title may have been a parody of James Cain's famous 1934 novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice , which became the basis of a 1946 M-G-M film of the same name (see above). More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 May 1942.
---
Daily Variety
29 May 1942.
---
Film Daily
3 Jun 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 May 42
p. 687.
Variety
3 Jun 42
p. 9.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Dir of pub
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 July 1942
Production Date:
late March--24 April 1942
addl scenes began on 1 May 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 July 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11475
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68-69
Length(in feet):
6,131
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8422
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, henpecked husband Jason Peters is cleaning his attic when he finds a mail bag containing letters postmarked 1889. After his attention-seeking wife Myrtle alerts the press, Postal Inspector Brennon arrives and tells them that the mailbag was stolen fifty-three years earlier. Brennon then announces that the letters will be hand-delivered by him to the addressees or their descendents, and is joined by philatilist Julie Martin, who wishes to buy the old stamps from the recipients. Brennon relates the stories behind two of the letters as he and Julie travel to a small town in Utah, where he is to deliver a letter to general store owner Daniel Carter. The idealistic Daniel, who experiments with agricultural innovations, often lends money to the local farmers and consequently is in debt himself. Robert Harwood, Sr., vice-president of the town's only bank and member of the haughty Harwood family, refuses to extend Daniel's own loans. Daniel is pleased when Julie offers him $1,500 for the stamp on his letter, which was originally meant for his late father. The letter contains a note for fifty shares in the Harwood bank, issued in 1872, which a friend of Daniel's father had given to him. Daniel's aunt Martha and friend, Judge Ben Colt, advise Daniel to be cautious, and their reservations are proven justified when the next day Harwood, Sr. lends Daniel one thousand dollars with the stock certificate as collateral. Unknown to Daniel, when the bank's president, Silas Harwood, bought the bank years before, he fraudently issued another stock certificate with the same number as Daniel's, but made out to himself. Ben is upset to learn ... +


In Los Angeles, henpecked husband Jason Peters is cleaning his attic when he finds a mail bag containing letters postmarked 1889. After his attention-seeking wife Myrtle alerts the press, Postal Inspector Brennon arrives and tells them that the mailbag was stolen fifty-three years earlier. Brennon then announces that the letters will be hand-delivered by him to the addressees or their descendents, and is joined by philatilist Julie Martin, who wishes to buy the old stamps from the recipients. Brennon relates the stories behind two of the letters as he and Julie travel to a small town in Utah, where he is to deliver a letter to general store owner Daniel Carter. The idealistic Daniel, who experiments with agricultural innovations, often lends money to the local farmers and consequently is in debt himself. Robert Harwood, Sr., vice-president of the town's only bank and member of the haughty Harwood family, refuses to extend Daniel's own loans. Daniel is pleased when Julie offers him $1,500 for the stamp on his letter, which was originally meant for his late father. The letter contains a note for fifty shares in the Harwood bank, issued in 1872, which a friend of Daniel's father had given to him. Daniel's aunt Martha and friend, Judge Ben Colt, advise Daniel to be cautious, and their reservations are proven justified when the next day Harwood, Sr. lends Daniel one thousand dollars with the stock certificate as collateral. Unknown to Daniel, when the bank's president, Silas Harwood, bought the bank years before, he fraudently issued another stock certificate with the same number as Daniel's, but made out to himself. Ben is upset to learn that the Harwoods have acquired the certificate, for in his research he discovered that the stock is now worth $250,000 and would give Daniel controlling interest in the bank. Meanwhile, Daniel and Julie have fallen in love, but Julie, believing that she could not adapt to small town life, returns to Los Angeles. That same morning, Ben escorts Daniel to the bank, where he gets the sheriff to enforce an order for the Harwoods to give Daniel control. Daniel is elected president and begins lending money to the farmers, regardless of their financial circumstances. The horrified Harwoods file suit against Daniel, claiming that he forged the stock certificate. Brennon and Julie return to testify for Daniel, and although their testimony clears him of the forgery charge, the Harwoods then assert that he has violated bank laws by giving away money. Daniel takes the stand to explain his belief in lending based on character, then offers his stock as collateral for his friends. The case is dismissed, and soon after, Daniel and Julie are just about to leave on their honeymoon when Daniel receives his draft notice. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.