Sunday, 2 March 2008

Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur 1947)

Ann Miller: She can't be all bad. No one is.
Jeff Bailey: Well, she comes the closest.

Few films are more representative of the noir style than Out of the Past. Most of the subjects we can find in the Film Noir can be traced in this movie.

The film – based on the novel Build My Gallows High by Daniel Mainwaring – highlights the contrast between the city (associated with corruption and evil) and the purity of the countryside.

Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) tries to start a new life in the countryside and escape from his past. However one of the gunmen sent by Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) finds him and a long flashback – another key element in noir films – will show us the troubles Jeff had been into. The day-lit countryside will soon be replaced by the night and the city.

The past will get into his present life just as his angelical girlfriend Ann (Virginia Huston) will soon be overshadowed by Kathie (Jane Greer acting as a fascinating femme fatale).

Soon we can feel that everything is lost for Jeff and that he is just spinning to his final fate – a naturalistic approach is also quite common in noir movies. Kathie drags him – there is a romantic and fatalistic quality in their love - to his end in a destructive passion “We deserve each other” Jeff tells her.

The photography by Nicholas Musuraca highlights the poetic, naturalistic aspects of this film. The dialogues are witty and sharp and the performances are superb. Out of the past is the best remembered movie by Jacques Tourneur: We are facing a masterwork full of the essence of film noir.


Anonymous said...

On my opinion, the first flash-back, set in mexican cantinas and beaches, is fascinating. Maybe too much, because the second half of the film cannot reach the same intensity. The set-up against Mitchum is difficult to go through. I’m sure everybody remembers best the first half than the second. But the last fisteen minutes are unforgettable. I agree with you, the performances are topnotch: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Virginia Huston… and don’t forget Rhonda Fleming!
Louis Ladd

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I love this kind of films because in my family everyone have taste to the classical movies, so I think that "Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur 1947)"is so good, very nice.

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This film left me a great impression since first time I watched it. I think there are another fabulous films of the epoch that you should mention in other posts.

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I don't remember this movie very well, but I must say there are another old films that left me a great impression since the first time I watched them.