build my gallows high, baby…

Out of the PastIf you are trying to survive a Noir film, doing so isn’t a case of watching out for your enemies, getting away with the dough or beating the cops in that car chase. The key move you need to make is to outsmart your Femme Fatale. If these guys could only see the ends of their movies, they’d snuff those broads the first time that they cross paths and the sad thing in these films is when the mark is too dim to even know that his girl has gone bad on him until its too late!

Luckily, in Out of the Past our lead fish isn’t that big of a fool. Robert Mitchum is Jeff Bailey, a once-detective, now gas station owner living a low-profile life (under a fake name, even) in an out of the way California town. When his old “friend” Joe wanders by the past comes calling… And not in a good way. See, years ago Jeff would do some work for the local kingpin about town, Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas!) and the last job that he did for him was to hunt down Whit’s girl Kathie (Jane Greer) and bring her back. Well, Jeff did hunt her down in Mexico, but he didn’t bring her back. In fact, he never came back either and, instead, he moved on to a new life and tried to leave his past behind. As we all know, those peaceful new lives can only last for so long, especially as this Joe fellow still works for good old Whit and says that he would like to see Jeff something fierce… So back into the past he steps.

Out of the Past



Out of the Past is a good Noir from 1947 directed by Jacques Tourneur (who earlier brought us Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie!) and it has all of the classic elements: missing money, a femme fatale, tough guys, murders, double-crossing, gunfire, fisticuffs and, most notably, an endlessly hard-boiled dialogue of smarmy one-liners! I thought it was better than most Noirs that I’ve seen and, though the dialog did seem a bit much in the early scenes, the story kept me involved from start to finish.

Out of the Past



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