Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Out of the Past
Jeff Bailey is an owner of a gas station, or at least that’s what he would have you think. In classic noir style he is actually a former PI who is hiding out from an old boss, and a past that he doesn’t want to catch up with him which always means that it will catch up with him and when he really doesn’t want it to. Soon Jeff is dragged back into his past, when he was hired to find Whit Sterling’s missing girlfriend, but of course nothing is ever that simple and before too long Jeff is in too far over his head and he can’t see his way out of the trap.
What I love about Out of the Past is that it is noir all the way to its toes. The protagonist is deeply flawed, even fatally flawed. We have both representations of the noir woman – the angelic woman in the girl Jeff is in love with now, and the femme fatale in the woman Jeff was initially in love with, the one that he can’t stay away from but brings him nothing but misery. The big bad is all evil with no redemptive quality, and the world itself seems out to get Jeff. This is a world that is all gray. What I love about the core of film noir is in Out of the Past. This is a movie where all the characters must atone for their sins and they have no say in the matter
I have to say that I have seen far too few movies with Kirk Douglas or Robert Mitchum. Not only are these men a phenomenal pair in this film, but on their own each actor is incredibly powerful and very fun to watch.
The camera work and photography are absolutely classic and beautiful in this film. I was actually in awe of several of the shots and the camera work and lighting. This is a beautiful film and I think the entire film is a testament to the kinds of images that could be created in film noir.
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Writer: Daniel Mainwaring
Jeff Bailey: Robert Mitchum
Kathie Moffat: Jane Greer
Whit Sterling: Kirk Douglas
Meta Carson: Rhonda Fleming
Kathie Moffat: Oh, Jeff, I don't want to die!
Jeff Bailey: Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I'm gonna die last.