Before the release of Bob Rafelson's version of the James M. Cain classic novel, which had already been turned into a highly regarded noir featuring John Garfield and Lana Turner, many felt that the possibility of greater fidelity to the book's sex scenes would allow the director to improve upon the earlier film. Although an interesting film in many ways, Rafelson slows the story's pace, and injects a note of ambiguity, detracting from the sense of urgency of what is, after all, a melodrama. The operatic, shake-and-bake sex scene, probably the best in the film, can't really redeem the rest. Nicholson, while as compelling as ever, seems too old and far too intelligent to play a role that calls for a tough, dumb, cocky 20-year-old. Jessica Lange is excellent in her breakthrough role, although she invests the character with more sensitivity than the book implies.Sven Nykvist's lush cinematography is certainly stunning, but again, this seems somehow unsuited to this lean, mean story.