Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)


Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffat), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson). Screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring. Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Rating: PG. Running time: 97 minutes.

Stark dark-light contrasts, femme fatales, girls with guns, men in hats, criminal pasts, cigarettes, blackmail, murder, deception, twists and turns, passionless romance, stale kissing, frequent kissing, shadows everywhere, stolen money, love affairs. In a line: typical, predictable noir. Watch Out of the Past in the right mood and it’ll be as good as all the rest, and better, according to critics, some calling it the ne plus ultra of noirs. I can’t see how, and I’ve seen quite a few by now, but perhaps that’s part of the problem: it’s the easiest of genres to grow quick to revere, but Hitchcock’s the only filmmaker I’ve come across that steered consistently clear of the clichés, and Double Indemnity still seems to me like the unparalleled archetype. This will do, though, for a Saturday night. Just nothing more nor nothing less.

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