Out of the Past


Out of the Past

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,980
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Movie Info

This quintessential film noir made contract player Robert Mitchum a star and set the standard for the genre for years to come. Private eye Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is hired by notorious gangster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to find his mistress, Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), who shot him and ran off with $40,000. Jeff traces Kathie to Mexico, but when he meets her he falls in love and willingly becomes involved in an increasingly complicated web of double-crosses, blackmail, and murder. Directed with supreme skill by Jacques Tourneur and brilliantly photographed by Nicholas Musuraca, this is an unrelentingly gloomy film set in a dark world of greed and deceit where love is used to trap the gullible. It was here that Mitchum created what became his characteristic screen persona: the droopy-eyed cynic who accepts fate with a studied nonchalance. Jane Greer is equally superb, perfecting the role of the femme fatale with a combination of erotic fire and cool detachment. Her first appearance in the film, in silhouette as she enters a dark cantina from the bright sunlight, is one of the great entrances in film history. A seminal genre film, certainly among the greatest whose influence is still felt today. Out of the Past was remade as the distinctly inferior Against All Odds.

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Critic Reviews for Out of the Past

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9)

  • The players acquit themselves histrionically if not morally. Mitchum, [Kirk] Douglas and the Misses [Jane] Greer and [Rhonda] Fleming are all commendable.

    Jun 28, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Fairly well played, and very well photographed (by Nicholas Musuraca), the action develops a routine kind of pseudo-tension.

    Jan 24, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Each change of angle and shift of light evokes an inner disturbance; the actors seem to push through the dense shadow as through water, revealing fast people in slow motion ...

    Apr 7, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Direction by Jacques Tourneur pays close attention to mood development, achieving realistic flavor that is further emphasized by real life settings and topnotch lensing by Nicholas Musuraca.

    Apr 18, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The most delicate and nuanced of film noirs, graced with a reflective lyricism that almost lifts it out of the genre.

    Apr 18, 2007 | Full Review…
  • All these B movie poets were under contract to RKO in the winter of 1946, and produced the best movie of everyone involved -- once seen, never forgotten.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Out of the Past

  • Dec 01, 2015
    Mitchum is little more than a big slab of beef walking around in a Macintosh trench coat, mumbling to himself, as all around him conspire in some way to dupe everyone else. He only just holds onto his hat, all the doublecrossing, doubletalking, backstabbing rigamarole going on. Did I mention that there's a bad girl in the middle of it all? Did I have to mention it? And yeah, she's got legs down to there and back up again. I'm gonna need a drink. Make that two.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 09, 2011
    The problem with an old film being a signpost of its genre is that it can seem like nothing but cliches in the present day. Cigarettes, guns, dangerous dames, trenchcoats, corny narration, syrupy orchestrations, the overly "written" dialogue, yes yes. And all the women look alike with their similar haircuts, makeup and solid-color dresses. I'm not much of a film-noir fan, but I hoped to enjoy this more than expected. No such luck. I'd much rather watch "Night of the Demon" again. Making Dickie Moore's character a deaf-mute was an interesting touch. Not sure how this detail helped the story.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 19, 2010
    Jacques Tourneur' masterful film noir where a man named Jeff Bailey, played magnificently by Robert Mitchum, who owns and runs a gas station in California will soon discover that he cannot escape his former life as a private detective, when his one-time employer, a charismatic gangster named Whit, played impressively by Kirk Douglas, and his wicked lover Kathie, brilliantly played by Jane Greer, an evil women that will stop at nothing to get her way, entangle Bailey in a web of murder and double-dealings. Astute direction by Tourneur, with striking black & white cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Outstanding dialogue, thanks to the exquisite script by Geoffrey Homes. One of the greatest crime classics in cinematic history. Highly Recommended.
    Danny R Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    A great movie, it stars both Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, so how could it be bad? I loved it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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