Out of the Past Reviews
A private eye is sick of dealing with low lives and following up on gruesome murders and retires to the country; unfortunately, trouble finds him leading him back to the city. He gets split between two women and a plan that will net them all a lot of money. He needs to string both dames along but he may not be as slick as he thinks.
"Don't you believe me?"
'Darling, I don't care."
Jacques Tourneur, director of Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, City in the Sea, Frontier Rangers, Wichita, Curse of the Demon, The Leopard Man, and Phantom Raiders, delivers Out of the Past. The storyline for this picture is very well done and had a wonderful gangster feel. Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas played brilliant gangster rivals and Jane Greer and Rhonda Fleming played great supporting roles.
"You don't like to make any mistakes, do you Joe?"
"They don't let me make many."
I came across this on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and had to DVR it when I saw the cast. This was a very well done mob movie with some great and unpredictable character interactions. This is definitely a gem worth seeing once but a hair short from being an all time classic.
"Joe couldn't find a prayer in the bible."
- One of the all-time classic film noirs...any film buff absolutely needs to see this. Great performances from Mitchum and Douglas and directed with great atmosphere by Tourneur. Check it out!
Out of the Past looks great and, as with most noir, the cinematographer did a great job of utilizing darkness and shadows to add intrigue to various scenes. I also have never mentioned this because I'm not a fan of smoking, but the way that cigarette smoke adds a haziness to the atmosphere in these films is extremely appropriate. I did enjoy this story, but it is one where I really got annoyed with the end, so I'll have to warn that spoilers are coming now. One of the troubles with all the movies from this era (at least as I understand it) is that the Production Code that was in place dictated that bad guys couldn't get away with it. This is a particular problem for noir films as most of the characters ride the line between good and bad. However in Out of the Past I was excited because it seemed that Mitchum's character had kept his nose clean enough to survive, and yet they kill him off at the end. It's not a deal-breaker that makes me hate the film, but it is one thing that rubbed me the wrong way and kept this from being something special in my book. Still, Out of the Past is a great entry in the genre, and it is one I would gladly watch again.
I found the tone and the characterizations were uneven for Jane Greer. If you're the type of person who likes any woman who's attractive than you'll love her, but I didn't like her. An unlikable woman in a film noir? Yeah, the genre that invented the femme fatale. That's not my problem. She's a great actress, but in a film with such an upbeat pace and style I'd like the movie to at least make her sympathetic, or endearing, or feisty, crazy, funny; anything besides just "two-timing dame." She seems like she should be in a grittier movie.
Robert Mitchum is great in this, but he's really not as smart as he thinks he is, or maybe he's aware of it. He talks fast and usually has a witty comeback for everything, but some of his witticisms aren't very clever at all. A lot of it doesn't even make sense, or he'll say something a child would say. Some of it is just cryptic. This isn't a complaint, though. I found it unusual, but I liked him. He's got a classy sense of humor and it's fun to hear him talk no matter what nonsense he says. Unfortunately, because of the huge difference between the two leads I didn't think they have very good chemistry. They seemed like they were both from different movies.
The story is great. Lots of twists and turns. It gets a little confusing toward the end, but even if you stop paying attention to certain plot points there's more than enough entertainment value to make up for it. This is one of the most funny and good looking film noirs out there. Not perfect, but pretty damn close.