Out of the Past - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Out of the Past Reviews

Page 1 of 32
May 19, 2017
Quintessential noir with as many of the features of the genre as you would hope to find. Of course, film noir as a genre has been constructed post hoc, so director Jacques Tourneur wasn't exactly working from a formula - but this wasn't the first noir, so something was definitely in the water. Robert Mitchum plays a detective hired by arrogant rich Kirk Douglas to find his girlfriend (Jane Greer) who shot him and absconded with $40K. Mitchum does catch up with her in Acapulco where they idle away their days until they decide to doublecross Douglas and hole up in San Francisco as lovers. Ultimately, though, they are tracked down by Mitchum's ex-partner, now working for Douglas. All this is shown in flashback a number of years later with a voiceover by Mitchum as he relates his past to new love interest Virginia Huston in the small town where he has escaped to run a gas station. He's finally told her the sordid details because Douglas has finally found him again and called him to Lake Tahoe for a meeting. It turns out that Douglas has another job for him, one that he can't refuse, one that might be a frame-up. And that doesn't begin to detail the complicated plot that ensnares the laid back but fatalistic Mitchum. Showing the noir protagonist's true disdain for his own welfare, when the femme fatale starts to reveal some of the ensnaring complications, Mitchum utters the classic line, "Baby, I don't care...". But he should have. A masterpiece of the genre.
January 17, 2017
Film noir defined in a nice looking b&w restoration, complete with the genre's convolutions. Trench coats abound. Women are beautiful and triplicitous, the good one getting away. Hunks back in their day after The War. A good looking film with a good commentary track for a 2nd look.
½ December 25, 2016
Out of the Past is very difficult to understand and too convoluted in the second act, but the first act is so well done and the third act is tragic and simply unforgettable. It features one of the finest protagonists of its time period with Robert Mitchum being so memorable in this great role, but it also has superb cinematography, very good story and a very poignant tone to it leading to one of the finest noir films.
½ December 10, 2016
Noir melodrama par excellence.
June 22, 2016
This sharp, highly enthralling film noir is one of the best of its ilk, a subtle, moody film about a man looking for a way out of his past, but unable to find one.
½ February 6, 2016
A fantastically classic example of film noir even if Robert Mitchum is only capable of portraying one emotion.
January 21, 2016
Stakes a claim to being the greatest of all film noirs. The archetypes of the sub-genre reach a breathless and coiled psychological and aesthetic pitch.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2016
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.
December 9, 2015
Quintessential film noir.
Super Reviewer
December 1, 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.
November 23, 2015
Robert Mitchum, after making a new life for himself comes clean about his past to his new love. The story is told is in a series of flashbacks. Mitchum is a P.I., hired by big-time bookie Kirk Douglas to find the bookie's girlfriend who has absconded to Mexico with a bunch of cash. Upon locating her, the detective and bookie's ex fall in love. The pair hide for years from the big bad bookie in SanFran, but are spotted at a horse track. The story gets much more convoluted after this point, with quick, clever banter, double-dealing, and subterfuge, but is one of the better I've watched thus far for #noirvember.
August 14, 2015
Fold your hands or I'll fold them for you.

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."

Grade: B
½ July 24, 2015
It's a very unusual film of its time in the use of real locations and the minimising of back projection and artificial sets. I love films with exotic locations so Acapulco and San Francisco do very nicely. For example using real settings for the evening beach and human fishing scenes is so much superior to using a studio lot, and since this was a B film on its release we can only imagine how awful some of these sets might have been with its modest budget. The cinematography of Nicholas Musuraca is superb, lending realism so much so that you can almost smell the grease at the gas station and feel the breeze coming off the lake in the opening scene. The dialogue is both clever and witty and worthy of Raymond Chandler himself. It gives great lines to many characters in a film that has many interesting supporting roles and reveals enough about many of them to extend them to 3 dimensions. Whit Sterling, as played by Kirk Douglas, is a powerful villain with a certain sly charm. Joe Stephanos an apparently easygoing heavy still carries his inferiority complex (vis-a-vis Jeff Bailey) with an insight into his doomed future. Even the Kid 'speaks' volumes on his understanding of Jeff's confused and complex character. Jane Greer was perfect as the beautifully cold Kathie Moffat who has all the men wrapped around her fingers showing the lovability of a Preying Mantis. Well writting about this film just makes me want to watch it again, I just love this movie and you should too ! This is clearly one of the best film noir films ever made. Mitchum leaps off the screen into the "A-list", and Kirk Douglas as the bad guy is perfection. The use of the shadows and light, the music, the acting, and best of all the script are all superlative. It's amazing to think that they obviously made this film for no money- it was a "B picture" and yet it's better than most of the 80 million dollar films that are foisted on us today. Watch this film, you'll love it.
July 2, 2015
Excellent Movie. Really great characters in this movie and a really good story too. Mitchum is fantastic in it. They dont make actors like him anymore. The only thing I didnt like in this movie was the deaf and dumb kid who was a bit crap but the rest of it was brilliant. Great movie.
½ May 22, 2015
- I love this film-noir, and it looks great on blu-ray. Both Mitchum and Douglas are excellent in this and it's a MUST watch for classic cinema lovers!

- 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!
May 10, 2015
So picturesque... an unforgettable noir classic and another monumental Mitchum performance as the mysterious Jeff.
½ May 3, 2015
I fell asleep in the middle because I was running off of 2 hours of sleep from the night before, so I'll reserve full judgment on this movie until I see the whole thing. But what I saw was pretty good.
½ May 1, 2015
Out of the Past is the story of a private eye who's being pursued by the mistakes of his past because of one job he failed to do right. It's probably the ultimate film noir, as it fits every stereotype of the genre. I love the 3 primary cast members of the film, and they are perfect for their roles. Robert Mitchum looks and acts just like a street smart gumshoe who can often be one step ahead of everyone else. He is the essence of cool. Kirk Douglas is the ideal gambler/mobster. He has a charm to his performance, but also gives off an air of strength that helps you see why Mitchum might not want to cross him. However the best casting was Jane Greer. She is absolutely gorgeous and it is simple to see why men fall in love with her and also believe whatever she says. It is one of the most intriguing femme fatale performances because as a viewer I bought everything she was saying as well, so I was in the same boat with the characters, never knowing when she could be trusted. As long as I'm talking about cast, though, I do have to complain about one decision they made. There was another woman who played an accountant or something and she looks way too much like Jane Greer to the point where I was genuinely confused if it was the same person they were calling by another name. For about 5 scenes in a row I didn't know which woman I was watching, and that should not happen in a movie that already has enough plot complexity.

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.
½ April 19, 2015
A fun film noir with fluid and sometimes haunting cinematography. I don't think it's the best in the genre, though. Even with my complaints I highly recommend the film. If you don't like film noir you'll probably like this one, and really that's my problem with it. It feels too modern. It feels like the kind of noir that came out after film noir became self-aware and it became exploited because the formula was standardized. This feels less like a 1947 film and more like a movie made today trying to imitate a 1947 film noir. That doesn't make the film less enjoyable, but it does prevent it from achieving genuine greatness.

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.
Page 1 of 32