Out of the Past (1947)
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring based on Build My Gallows High by Daniel Mainwaring
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Webb, Steve Brodie, Virginia Huston, Paul Valentine and Dickie Moore.
Tagline: A MAN – Trying to run away from his past… A WOMAN – Trying to escape her future!
Jeff Markum (Mitchum), a private eye, is hired by an underworld figure named Whit (Douglas). Whit wants his girl back. She shot him and stole $40,000. Whit doesn’t care about the money, he just wants Kathie back. Whit promises no harm will come to Kathie (Greer). He loves her. Whit says Markum will understand once he meets Kathie. Money is no object. Kathie could be anywhere in the world, but Whit trusts Markum will find her and Whit will pay for it.
Markum catches up with Kathie in Acapulco. She is beautiful. There’s a mutual attraction between Markum and Kathie. Kathie admits she shot Whit, but denies taking his money. Markum doesn’t contact Whit. As the days (and nights) drag on, Markum and Kathie decide to run away together.
They know that Whit will send someone to find them…
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
Much of Out of the Past is told in flashback that brings us up to speed and then the story is carried forward. This storytelling device is effectively used.
Out of the Past is a classic for many reasons:
- Director Jacques Tourneur is at the top of his game.
- Mitchum was born to play these kinds of roles.
- Jane Greer is excellent as the good girl/dangerous dame.
- Kirk Douglas had only played supporting roles up to this point in his career. I cannot think of a better actor for the role of the rich, confident man who always gets what he wants.
- Steve Brodie plays Mitchum’s PI partner who turns out to be not much of a partner.
- Paul Valentine is impressive as Douglas’ right hand hood.
- Out of the Past is as noir as it gets. There are tough guys, beautiful but dangerous dames, multiple double crosses, murders, and a shocking ending. I love this movie more with each viewing.
Out of the Past (1947) rates 5 of 5 stars.