Noirvember 2016, Episode 25: Out of the Past (1947)


Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tourneur (4x)
Warner DVD, Blu-ray


We may be done with the past, but the past is never done with us. Robert Mitchum plays Jeff, a man trying to escape his shady past and settle down in a small rural community with a good woman (Virginia Huston, above left), but former big city boss Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) has other plans for him. First, find Whit’s girl Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer, below right), who shot him and stole $40,000 from him.


That’s the bare-bones summation of the film, but its richness and wonders are many, including a stellar cast, the brilliant directing by Tourneur, and the truly spectacular cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. And did I mention the wonderful Roy Webb score? If you haven’t seen it, stop everything and find a copy, sit down and luxuriate in film noir heaven.


This marks the fourth time I’ve seen the film, three of those times coming in the last two years. There’s a sense of not being able to escape your past that probably didn’t mean much to me the first time I saw the film, since I was in my 20s and didn’t have much of a past. Yet now, thinking about the sins/mistakes/indiscretions of my life, and pondering how such things might come back to haunt me as they did Jeff, each viewing becomes much more personal.


Out of the Past is recognized as one of the great film noir movies and contains one of noir’s most gut-wrenching final scenes. The performances are excellent and Jane Greer is one of the most stunning of all femmes fatale. There’s so much more to say about this film, but I’m going to let you discover it for yourself. (Out of the Past was also the first movie in our library’s “Film Noir Theatre” series in 2014.)


Photos: IMP Awards, Movie Title Stills Collection, Toronto Film Society, Keeping it Reel, Vanishing Point Chronicles

6 thoughts on “Noirvember 2016, Episode 25: Out of the Past (1947)

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Robert Mitchum’s 100th Birthday | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  2. Pingback: Noirvember 2016: 30 Films in 30 Days | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  3. Pingback: Noirvember 2016, Episode 26: Crime Wave (1954) | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  4. For me Out Of The Past is the definitive film noir movie. Over the last few years I have watched it 6 times and it never gets old. And it is a movie with a perfect title. Many noirs have a cool name that really has nothing to do with the film. This is not the case with Out Of The Past.

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