Out of the Past (1947)

I’ve seen this movie three or four times now and I cannot tell you what its about. I only know that its badass. The plot has something to do with Robert Mitchum hooking up with Jane Greer and her sordid past and Kirk Douglas showing up in the 3rd act as a ruthless gangster. Im not sure who’s double-crossing who or why but Jacques Tourneur (known mostly at the time for his Val Lewton horror films) directs with such intensity you can’t help but be sucked in. The atmosphere is so seedy, the violence tough and gritty, this is noir to its very bones.

Robert Mitchum is at his most stoic; vulnerable and often charming (with his droopy-eyed gaze) in the clutches of Jane Greer’s malevolence oozing femme fatale. And Kirk Douglas playing against type as the sinister mob boss and Greer’s former flame is mind blowing. A daring performance that parallels Henry Fonda’s image shedding performance in Once Upon a Time in the West.

The film features some of the greatest dialogue ever in a dialogue heavy genre.

Kathie Moffat: Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to die!

Jeff Bailey: Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I’m gonna die last.

Whit Sterling: My feelings? About ten years ago, I hid them somewhere and haven’t been able to find them.

This film is a favorite of Scorsese’s and Tarantino’s and you can see why. Few films can have this much exposition and yet be so much fun. Couldn’t find the real trailer on youtube but luckily someone made a fittingly badass re-cut.

-John

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