OUT OF THE PAST

(1959)
With Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Webb, Steve Brodie, Dickie Moore
Directed by Jacques Tournier
Black and White
Reviewed by JL
   

Out of the Past     One of the most essential of films noir, as well as one of the most imitated, Jacques Tournier's OUT OF THE PAST is a cautionary tale about the consequences of past misdeeds.  Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, a former detective trying to escape his past by changing his name and taking work in a small-town gas station.  When Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas), a former gangster acquaintance, summons Jeff to his house for unknown reasons, the film shifts to an extended flashback that chronicles Jeff's downfall.  Years ago, Sterling had hired Jeff to track down his mistress, Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), who had shot him and absconded with $40,000.  In true noir fashion, Jeff and Kathie become engaged in a torrid affair that leads to mutual deception and murder.  OUT OF THE PAST was an important star-making film in the careers of Mitchum and Douglas, while Greer made a lasting impact as the definitive duplicitous noir woman.  A compelling and pessimistic masterpiece, OUT OF THE PAST suggests that redemption is not possible for those who have not yet atoned for past sins. - JL

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