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Out Of The Past(1947)


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Joe Stafanos(Paul Valentine)an oily,shifty,gunman shows up in a small Nevada town looking for gas station owner Jeff Bailey(Robert Mitchum)Joe meets Jeffs helper(Dickie Moore)Joe tells the kid he wants to see Bailey.

Bailey is shocked to see Joe after many years,Joe tells him Whit Sterling(Kirk Douglas)a big time mob czar,that he wants to see Jeff.

Jeff has his girlfriend Ann Miller(Virginia Huston)drive him to see Sterling and tells her of his past.Jeff,whos real name is Markham was once a private detective in New York working with Jack Fisher(Steve Brodie)who Jeff had little use for.Whit had sent for Jeff to find his mistress Kathy Mottiff(Jane Greer)who shot him and ran away with $40.000.Jeff agrees to find her and traces her to Mexico.Soon Jeff falls for her and has no intention of returning her to Whit.Whit hires Fisher to return with them.Jeff and Fisher have a brutal fight and Kathy kills Fisher.

Jeff tells Ann he wants to get the business cleaned up with Whit.Whit wants to hire Jeff for another job.Whits lawyer Leonard Eels(Ken Niles)and his secretary Metta Carson(Rhonda Flenning)are holding Whits income tax returns.Whit wants Jeff to get them back.Jeff refuses.To his horror Jeff finds that Kathy hs returned to Whit and told him everything.

Film Noir as good as it gets.

Humphrey Bogart,Dick Powell,and John Garfield were the first picks to play Jeff.

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  • 1 month later...

The Big Steal is another good pairing of Mithchum and Jane Greer. Usually classified as Film Noir, though many refer to it as comedy-mystery. It is a mystery, but is also short and sassy and is a little bit of a tour of Mexico.

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Ever since I first saw *The Big Steal* on TCM several years ago I am a big fan. I like it as much as *Out Of The Past* but for very different reasons. Its a very different film and shows a different side of Bob Mitchum.

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  • 3 months later...

Out of the Past is in my opinion one of the ten best noirs. It is going to be released on Blu-Ray in the near future. I am glad that such a great film is getting that treatment.

 

I agree with your opinion.     Each year I go to Bridgeport CA and fish in Waker Creek.   I go to the same place where the Kid hooks the henchman.    I go to the house that was used as his girlfriends house in the film.    This makes me feel more connected to the film. Corny?   You bet it is,   but I still get moved by these things.

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Interesting list of other noir actors who might of played Jeff. Out of that list I feel only Garfield would of really worked as well as Mitchum.

JJG, as you know I really love this film (and I envy the fact that you are near the area and visit there while I am around 3000 miles away) . Mitchum really nails the part here (can't imagine anyone  being better and it established his career).  But I ponder the possibilities of some other actors who may have worked very  well in the lead role. One of the first is costar Steve Brodie, he always impresses me with his film work and if by chance he had gotten the role it would have been a huge boost to his film career.  I think Brodie would have done quite well , one of the very few times he played a lead was in the noir film DESPERATE , made just before OUT OF THE PAST.  Another name that comes to my mind is our old friend Dan Duryea.  Unquestionably  he's a fine actor, playing a "good" guy here could have changed the direction of his  future career, instead of being typed as "slimy, low life weasel" in many of his films.  My point is the film OOTP is such a well crafted film with a defined lead character that a number of  talented actors could have made a really good impression here.  MItchum had the good fortune (and I am not complaining) to get the part and the rest is history.

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The casting gods were working overtime when Out of the Past was being made- as the first three actors approached for playing Jeff Bailey -though each were very talented- would not have been as perfect a fit as Robert Mitchum; in part because of Mitchum's size physical characteristics as well as acting ability. Few could match his ability to look dull/sleepy/bored and dangerous at the same time; this adds greatly to the evolution of the story.

 

I also love that this film takes place mostly in the idealized countryside -perfectly beautiful settings- subtly indicating the inescapability of corruption. Out of the Past is one of my top 2 favorite film noir, the other being Soidmak's The Killers. Perhaps the best role and one of the greatest performances captured on film is that of Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat- a puzzle within an enigma - or is she?

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The casting gods were working overtime when Out of the Past was being made- as the first three actors approached for playing Jeff Bailey -though each were very talented- would not have been as perfect a fit as Robert Mitchum; in part because of Mitchum's size physical characteristics as well as acting ability. Few could match his ability to look dull/sleepy/bored and dangerous at the same time; this adds greatly to the evolution of the story.

 

I also love that this film takes place mostly in the idealized countryside -perfectly beautiful settings- subtly indicating the inescapability of corruption. Out of the Past is one of my top 2 favorite film noir, the other being Soidmak's The Killers. Perhaps the best role and one of the greatest performances captured on film is that of Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat- a puzzle within an enigma - or is she?

 

First,  great to see you at this forum.     Mitchum's screen persona was a great fit for the role.   As you noted at the start when he is hired to find the gal that dull/sleepy/bored look really worked.  It was like,  'Ok, I have a job to do,  oh, hum,  maybe I'll find her,  no big deal either way'.    BUT once he see her walking into that cantina it doesn't take long for other sides of his persona to come out.

 

The difference locations used in the film and going from the countryside to the city of San Francisco provides a great contrast but at the same time,  as you noted,   what is coming 'out of the past' will find one even when sitting by a wonderful lake in the mountains.

 

A role of a lifetime for Greer and she nailed it.

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I agree with your opinion.     Each year I go to Bridgeport CA and fish in Waker Creek.   I go to the same place where the Kid hooks the henchman.    I go to the house that was used as his girlfriends house in the film.    This makes me feel more connected to the film. Corny?   You bet it is,   but I still get moved by these things.

 

 

Virginia Huston's home? Has the town changed very  much?

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  • 7 months later...

Interesting list of other noir actors who might of played Jeff. Out of that list I feel only Garfield would of really worked as well as Mitchum.

 

Respectfully disagree. Garfield is too intense. I have a hard time seeing him being laid-back in the way Mitchum was. Garfield persona is so angry, I mean can you see him being a nice guy in the Fisher murder scene. Can you imagine Greer saying to Garfield, "You would have let him go," Greer saw Mitchum as weak and the latter was able to play it that way, not really weak, per se, but simply a nice guy. Garfield couldn't even be a nice guy in Humoresque, in which he was a concert violinist coming across persona-wise as gangster mentality. He was grossly miscast in that and I believe he would have been in Past ... respectfully.

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  • 8 months later...

Another Noir released in 1947 was DEAD RECKONING, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott.  It was not as good as OUT OF THE PAST (arguably the best Noir in film history), but it was still very good.  When Jane Greer was interviewed about her role on TCM, she said director Jacques Tourneur told her in the first half of the film, she was to play the good girl.  And in the second half of the film,  Tourneur told her to be the bad girl.  It takes a confident director to so beautifully simplify acting. 

 

Mitchum's performance has a fatalism even more pronounced than other noirs.  He recognized Kathy's duplicity immediately.  Yet the sexual allure was so intense he was unwilling or incapable to set himself free.

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Respectfully disagree. Garfield is too intense. I have a hard time seeing him being laid-back in the way Mitchum was. Garfield persona is so angry, I mean can you see him being a nice guy in the Fisher murder scene. Can you imagine Greer saying to Garfield, "You would have let him go," Greer saw Mitchum as weak and the latter was able to play it that way, not really weak, per se, but simply a nice guy. Garfield couldn't even be a nice guy in Humoresque, in which he was a concert violinist coming across persona-wise as gangster mentality. He was grossly miscast in that and I believe he would have been in Past ... respectfully.

 

Took me a long time to reply, but while I understand your point,  I don't agree.   The Garfield character in Postman is similar to Jeff in Out of the Past;   one that isn't very strong and allows a beautiful femme fatale to lead him to his doom.     While Garfield was mostly cast as a strong (angry) persona I think he was a good enough actor to play characters that varied from that persona (Nobody Lives Forever is another film where he is a softer type man on the wrong side of the law).

 

As for Mitchum;  Well folks that saw Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter,  might feel that he was miscast as Jeff.   The point being that good actors are rarely grossly miscast.   Instead the POV of them being miscast is only in the mind of the viewer.

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Took me a long time to reply, but while I understand your point,  I don't agree.   The Garfield character in Postman is similar to Jeff in Out of the Past;   one that isn't very strong and allows a beautiful femme fatale to lead him to his doom.     While Garfield was mostly cast as a strong (angry) persona I think he was a good enough actor to play characters that varied from that persona (Nobody Lives Forever is another film where he is a softer type man on the wrong side of the law).

 

As for Mitchum;  Well folks that saw Cape Fear and Night of the Hunter,  might feel that he was miscast as Jeff.   The point being that good actors are rarely grossly miscast.   Instead the POV of them being miscast is only in the mind of the viewer.

Agree Garfield in Postman is like Jeff in Out Of The Past.

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We have two separate issues here, comparing the actors (Garfield and Mitchum, both talented actors who I believe capable of playing a wide  range of characters when given the chance) and  comparing the characters played in POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and OUT OF THE PAST. Garfield's character is very much the same as Fred Macs in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, no surprise as the stories are very much the same and by the same author. Both guys get seduced and go to the extreme of committing a murder for the woman. Mitchum's character in OOTP is made of stronger stuff then the other two. Mitchum's Jeff Bailey never committed a crime (especially murder) for the femme fatale and he did try to make a clean break from her.  Only circumstances beyond his control drag him back to her and clearly he only does what he is forced to do. I have no problem seeing John Garfield playing the Bailey character, I could also see Mitchum  in either POSTMAN or DOUBLE INDEMNITY.

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Garfield could have been in Out of the Past as far as comparing the actors is concerned.  I think he was capable of playing more laid back characters if the script asked for it such as in Between Two Worlds.

 

Mitchum, of course, was excellent in pretty much everything he did.

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First off I must say that the movie scores high in all respects and I can understand many feeling this is THE quintessential film noir, but I must be honest here and, as a lover of noir for decades, feel it's missing the tension and grittiness I love in a good noir. It's a little too "A" sanitized for me to put it at the top. I personally lose some interest when a movie drifts into the romance area like Fallen Angel, Angel Face, etc. I want to end with clarification that I think Out Of The Past is classic noir, just not on the pedestal that most put the movie at.  

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21 hours ago, decojoe67 said:

First off I must say that the movie scores high in all respects and I can understand many feeling this is THE quintessential film noir, but I must be honest here and, as a lover of noir for decades, feel it's missing the tension and grittiness I love in a good noir. It's a little too "A" sanitized for me to put it at the top. I personally lose some interest when a movie drifts into the romance area like Fallen Angel, Angel Face, etc. I want to end with clarification that I think Out Of The Past is classic noir, just not on the pedestal that most put the movie at.  

I assume you enjoy early 50s noirs slightly more than 40s noirs for the reasons you state related to OOTP.

To me they were more gritty,  often didn't feature a major star so the star could be portrayed in a more negative \ true light,  as well as end up being a killer and \ or ending up dead. 

Of course Mitchum in OOTP meets his maker but he knowingly does so and does assist the police by turning in the femme fatale.   As you know,  Mitchum would go on to make many more noirs but these featured him in more heroic roles,  until the end of the cycle with Night of the Hunter and of course Cape Fear.

   

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3 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I assume you enjoy early 50s noirs slightly more than 40s noirs for the reasons you state related to OOTP.

To me they were more gritty,  often didn't feature a major star so the star could be portrayed in a more negative \ true light,  as well as end up being a killer and \ or ending up dead. 

Of course Mitchum in OOTP meets his maker but he knowingly does so and does assist the police by turning in the femme fatale.   As you know,  Mitchum would go on to make many more noirs but these featured him in more heroic roles,  until the end of the cycle with Night of the Hunter and of course Cape Fear.

My favorite Robert Mitchum Noir is "Where Danger Lives" (1950) For me it's not only edgier then "Past", but it has the tension and suspense that make for a great noir for me personally. Originally I did like noirs in the '49-'52 era the best for the reasons you mentioned, but have become a true noir aficionado and like almost everything of the genre.  

 

 

   

 

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