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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #13: Out of the Sun and Into the Shadows (A Scene from Out of the Past)

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Today's clip from "Out of the Past" demonstrates what a beautifully photographed film this is. As with "The Big Sleep," we have an introductory scene played out in heat, but whereas that was conveyed through the General's description of his situation and Marlowe's discomfort, here we feel it through Jeff's voice over and the brightly lit exteriors.

 

Kathie's entrance is remarkable. We see her in her white dress but, for a moment as she crosses into the shadowed cantina, she seems completely and deeply black. The visual effect doesn't seem forced, but is exactly what you'd expect seeing someone cross that threshold. Still a feeling of moral ambiguity is created.

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1.)   This scene from "Out of the Past" employs noir techniques and style in that we the viewer are automaticallypulled and dragged into the scene.  The scene begins with Mitchum's droll narration of Jane Geer's character. We essentially hear about the character and learn something about her before we actually meet her.  When Jane Greer enters the scene, we get a scene very similar to the opening scene of The Big Sleep when Marlow marches confidently into the man's house to question him.  In entering the cantina, Greer "crosses" through noir styles.  She begins in the Mexican sun is a scene that would be similar to a scene from Border Incident: not a dark cityscape, but a sunlit backwater town. She croses from that world into the noir world of the cantina...from the light into the shadows.  Like many female characters in film noir,  she is stately, classy, mysterious and aloof.  She appears innocent but we know by her surroundings and by Mitchum's accompanying narration she is embroiled in some sinister plot that has yet to reveal itself.

 

2.  We learn most about Katie from Jeff and very little from Katie herself.  We can gather from Mitchum's narration that Katie has something to hide and he is escaping to Mexico for some reason we do not know yet.  She is an atypical film noir femme fatale...beautiful, sophisticated, alluring, but there is that hidden element, a hidden chemical of danger about. We know that she is drawing Mitchum in in this scene and trying to find out why he is there .  She is cool towards Mitchum ; she turns down the earrings he buys from the Mexican vendor and without much dialogue, exits the scene and invites Jeff to meet her later. We learn that jeff wants to know more about Katie, but can't seem to get on the same side as her.  He is a big-city detective transposed from the moonlit gloom of the urban jungle to the sunburned landscape of Mexico trying to learn more about a woman who seems much more comfortable than him in these surroundings.

 

3.  This scene from "Out of the Past" contributed to the film noir style in that the scene represents a combination, a fusion if you will of the gritty urban environment of Marlow and Spade and the broad, brightly lit world of noir films such as Border Incident. For the first time in film noir,  the main characters of the film noir world....the dangerous woman and the inquisitive gumshoe are thrust together is a world that is part desert (the outside of the cantina) and part city (the inside of the cantina).

 

3.)

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I noticed the realist style with the fly-over of Mexico, like a documentary as in the Border Incident with the narration.

Even though it is daylight and they are indoors, there are plenty of shadows on the faces of the main characters, like when she lights her cigarette and he stands up from his table.  It is beautifiully crafted.

She has a pessimistic attitude when she says she'll never wear the earrings he offers.  They are both lonely characters.  He wants someone to share his view of the ocean and she reveals she is lonely saying she sometimes goes to the cantina where they play American music.

They are both dressed very stylish.  

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Though much of this short scene is shot in daylight, the daylight is used to as a representative of the gorgeous, Mexican city in day time. When we are first introduced to Jeff, he's coming out of a dark alleyway, into the sunshine, and moves right back into the shadows of a cafe. A stark contrast to the well lit city. We are also exposed to some of the typical elements of film noir as this is a flashback with the protagonist narrating the events as they unfolded. Kathie's entrance is classic film noir; she sways into the cafe wearing that distinctive white dress, a contrast to all the shadows within. Also significant is that, and I never realized this, despite having seen the movie, seeing this clip alone hints at something darker underneath all the brightness when Jeff Bailey suggests Whit is not seeking the forty grand.

 

Of Jeff, we learn that he is searching for someone; that he is patient and carefully considers the whereabouts of the person he is searching for. He visits Acapulco, despite being told Kathie will be headed to Florida, knowing his target has to show up there to catch a boat going further south. Of Kathie, we learn, before she even appears on the scene, that some guy named Whit is searching for her and $40,000. After she's introduced and starts speaking we learn that she is very cautious, choosing not to have an experienced guide show her Acapulco, I also think she's interested in Jeff. After she tells him he should drown his loneliness at Pablo's cantina, she suggests he might find her there.

 

This scene is significant to film noir, in that it took the genre out of the gritty cities at night and took it to the sunlit beaches. It taught us that the dark underbelly of crime movies didn't always have to happen in the dark underbellies of big cities. Even the music is a stark contrast to the normal sounds used in the genre.

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Great points about this clip by The Working Dead on framing techniques, the sense of confinement noted by Toni Noir, and black looking portals into which Mitchum walks while in search of Greer mentioned by Bill Holmes.  All of the shots filming Mitchum walking toward the cantina show increasingly narrow frames, created by walls on the right side of the frame, and a wall on each side in the foreground as he sits in the bar alone before Greer enters.  The trap is ever-narrowing in a visual sense.

 

I thought the background of the shots of Greer and Mitchum as they talk reflected their reactions to one another.  Greer, giving little away and cutting him off, has a wall in back of her and her shadow--her alter ego--is evident against the wall.  It's as if he's hit a wall in trying to get information from her.  Mitchum, more open in his attraction to her if not his reason for being there, has the bar patrons, the bar, and a display cabinet of plates--a "homey" visual reflecting Greer's comment that he go home--in the shot behind him.  This more complex background suggests a deeper, more complex set of emotions experienced by Mitchum's character while they talk.  The wall behind him hints that he's hiding something, like Greer's character, but the wall only takes up a portion of his background and he throws little to no shadow on it.  The differing backgrounds underscore the disparity between the two at this point.  

 

And that wall is two toned--light and dark.  Another visual motif of the dual perspectives, goals, and feelings between and within each of the two characters that is only just becoming evident in the film.  It's also another way to create a "shadow" in a relatively well lit cantina--well lit at least compared to many noir settings.

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  • How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight?

 

To me, I believe that this scene employs elements of the film noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight by using shadows and shade from the setting in the scene.

 

For example, the scene uses shots of shadows and shade from things like buildings, alleys, and entrances to create elements of the film noir style in the daylight found throughout the scene.

 

  • What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence?

 

To me, I believe from this scene we (the audience) learn that Jeff (Robert Mitchum) is a private investigator from his dialogue in his voice-over narration. In this scene we also learn that he has followed Kathie (Jane Greer) to Mexico.

 

In addition to this, we (the audience) also learn that Kathie is smarter than Jeff thinks she is. She is already aware of the fact that he has been following her and she knows who he is. However, she also takes somewhat of a liking to him.

 

  • In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir?

 

To me, I believe that this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of the film noir style because it shows a great example of how scenes can use shots of shadows and shade to create elements of the film noir style in the daylight that is found throughout the scene.

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 -- How the scene employs noir elements despite daylight:

 

Several film noir elements are apparent: the voice over narration, the cynical perspective of characters, the light placement (overhead spotlighting), the shadows and silhouettes, unsettling music (“jarring” music coming from the theater next door), unpleasant ambient heat that underscores the chemistry between the two characters, and their witty repartee. Visually, it reminds me of a Mexican version Casablanca with everything from the-lone-man-at-a-table shots to the female lead’s hat; most of all, the low camera angles and framed doorways and windows are fantastic. Except that of course this is not a high-class joint; its grittiness is all noir, though thousands of miles removed from either Morocco or New York.

 

-- What we learn about the characters:

 

Neither character is uncomfortable being in a foreign locale; both exude a quiet confidence. Kathie would just as soon be left to her goal of catching a boat by herself (“I don’t need a guide”), but she’s willing to slip a little New York talk into the conversation (“sip bourbon, shut your eyes…it’s like a little place on 56th street”) to create the illusion of a bit of interest and allure (“I sometimes go there”). Jeff is characteristically prepared to use his romantic wiles to finish his job (“Nothing in the world is any good unless you can share it”), and it appears to be working.

 

-- How Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir:

 

Similarly to the opening sequence of Border Incident, film noir is brought into the daylight here. All of the noir elements except literal darkness are in place: noir doesn’t have to be noir to be noir.

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  • How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight?

 

To me, I believe that this scene employs elements of the film noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight by using shadows and shade from the setting in the scene.

 

For example, the scene uses shots of shadows and shade from things like buildings, alleys, and entrances to create elements of the film noir style in the daylight found throughout the scene.

 

  • What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence?

 

To me, I believe from this scene we (the audience) learn that Jeff (Robert Mitchum) is a private investigator from his dialogue in his voice-over narration. In this scene we also learn that he has followed Kathie (Jane Greer) to Mexico.

 

In addition to this, we (the audience) also learn that Kathie is smarter than Jeff thinks she is. She is already aware of the fact that he has been following her and she knows who he is. However, she also takes somewhat of a liking to him.

 

  • In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir?

 

To me, I believe that this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of the film noir style because it shows a great example of how scenes can use shots of shadows and shade to create elements of the film noir style in the daylight that is found throughout the scene.

 

 

I couldn't have said it better myself. I was reading the other comments and this one struck me the most!

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"Out of the Past" was loosely remade in 1984 as "Against All Odds" directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward.

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Like others have noted, it was interesting how much this sequence evokes "Casablanca" - from the costuming (in particular Jane Greer's hat and the way she wears it), to the exotic setting, the cool interior and the sun-blasted exterior.

 

Jane Greer's entrance is truly one of the great femme fatale "entrances", isn't it? She looks like an angel in that white dress, with the sun behind her - but then  she steps from the light, into the shadow - giving us a nice subliminal message as to who she really might be. 

 

It must have been extremely difficult to balance the 'hot' exterior lighting with the shadows and 'cool' dimness of the interior - and I think this is a reason why this movie is an important contribution to 'noir'. Here, technical brilliance is demonstrated - proving that 'noir's low-key lighting style isn't merely a Poverty Row solution to not having enough money to afford proper cinematic lighting.  There are skillful filmmaking techniques on display - elevating the 'noir' form and, at a stroke, removing the genre from the noir trope of dark, rain-soaked streets - to tell stories in daylight that still hold a quality of mystery, suspense and impending doom.

 

'Noir' suddenly becomes incredibly glamorous.

 

A quick final word. The editing is really wonderful, the steady, languorous rhythm of it pulling us - fascinated - into the lives of these two characters. 

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The travelogue shots that begin this sequence show us that we are in the real world. But in typical noir-style, we leave the real, daylight world to enter a subjective, shadow world. That contrast is seen most clearly in Kathy Moffat's entrance into La Mar Azul. Out of that real world, she enters into a darker, cooler world of secrets and shady motives.

Jeff uses every opportunity he can, from the dropped coin to the tour guide's assumption they're a couple, to ingratiate himself into Kathy's world. He'd doing it for business, but Mitchum does a good job of letting us know he's attracted to this woman he's been hired to find.

Kathy is polite but unintersted -- until the end of the conversation. She's giving the impression of a well-bred, sophisticate. Until she lowers her voice at the end and says pointedly "I go there sometime,"  Kathy reveals herself as a study in contradictions. Who ever heard of a femme-fatale named Kathy Moffat? And yet, she's one of the most lethal ladies in Film Noir.

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Excellent discussion regarding "Gilda," if perhaps a bit off topic (this exchange of posts threads over the last couple hours). If one steps back and views the movie as forest, rather than tree, one can see the male dominated studio system using Ms. Hayworth (real name, Cansino) as an object, marketed for her sex appeal. But she plays the title character; the movie is named for her character. The name "Gilda" is reminiscent of "gilded," as in "only a bird in a gilded cage," a popular song in the early part of the last century. The character is on one level a beautiful woman caged within the male dominated, a) studio system; B) film reality of the powerful male characters, rich business owners; and c) caged by her own beauty. Like gilt (another play on Gilda), her outer beauty is gold plated.In German, the name Hilda represents a strong warrior and Hildegard von Bingen was one of the most important women in history, recognized even during her lifetime in the middle ages. 

In the end, the studio system (the topic for this week's lessons) makes of Ms. Hayworth merely a commodity. Contrast this with Ida Lupino, who lived her independence, directing and producing films of some importance. At the start of the picture business, there were far more women involved in the writing and production of motion pictures. By WWII, although women had joined the work force, Rosie the Riveter was supplanted by the pin-up girl. Put the blame on Mame, boys, but the real fault is on society's own unwillingness to recognize the inherent talents of both genders equally. 

"Gilda" didn't work for me as film noir. I saw the crime plotline as secondary to selling Ms. Hayworth's sexuality. I prefer the lower budget productions of "Poverty Row" that didn't have to make the huge profits necessary to sustain the studios and their lavish lifestyles. Call me a heretic, but I think "Gilda" was slumming, a poseur pretending to be noir.

If ever there was a heist, it was the big studios trying to sell folk songs to the folks who made them songs. Strictly mass marketing consumerism, nothing iconoclastic or new.

 

 

In reality, the old Hollywood studio system viewed and exploited everyone --- male, female and children alike --- as commodities.   Yes, Hollywood was a male-dominated industry, but at the time that could be said of all industries, everywhere; despite rare exceptions.  

 

A deeper connection to film noir, however, is the startling change in the way Hollywood started to depict women during the WWII years.   The stereotypical Golddigger of the Twenties and Thirties were replaced by the more dangerous Femme fatales as Hollywood descended into noir.    

 

Femme fatales of noir were harder, colder, more opportunistic and assertive.   They were also more venomous.   Gold-diggers were often depicted as first being victims of some social injustice or economic disparity, or sometimes the product of abuse.   Femme fatales seemed to need no excuse for their predatory ambition, nor did they seem to know when enough was enough.   Femme fatales reeks of self-indulgent excess.   They don't just seduce men, they destroy them.   They don't simply use men because they're left little choice in a world stacked against them, they destroy men because they can and enjoy it.    

 

This is a startling change in the way women are thought of and portrayed.   Doubtless, the war itself, and the upheaval in both society and the economy it caused, helped to spawn this change.   But noir isn't about fairness or equality; it's about the darkness that swallows the light, the inescapable black hole that's the past, the appetites which can never be sated, and the unbridled excess that can only end in destruction.  

 

So I would argue that Gilda IS noir, not because of the plot per se, of gambling, crime, cartels, murder, betrayal, etc., but because of the excruciating extremes of the love-hate relationship between Gilda and Johnny.   Nothing and no one else matters.   Their torment of being hooked on that alternating current of love and hate is, as Ballin aptly says, a very powerful emotion.   For Gilda and Johnny it's the only emotion, one they can neither completely embrace nor completely abandon...one they're fully willing to destroy themselves --- each other --- and everyone else --- for.   

 

I'm not sure you can get more noir than that.   

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The large straw hat was an interesting wardrobe choice. As she left the light for the dark, it momentarily caught the sun from behind and lit up underneath like a halo.

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 I first saw "Out of the Past," as well as many other films noir, when they first appeared in theaters. Even as a youngster I found it disturbing that I was liking the hero even while feeling uncomfortable with his actions. "Out of the Past" is superb in bringing out the moral ambiguity of the noir hero and arguably does it more successfully than any other movie labeled "film noir."

 

One other point that perhaps our professor can answer. Years ago I read an article about "Out of the Past" in which the critic referred to the movie as "having so much style, it could be French." Does anybody know who this perceptive critic is (or was) and where the article appeared?

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Bright, hot sun and cool, dark cafe--a recipe for intrigue

 

he scene from Out of the Past begins with a documentary format with the aerial views of Acapulco.  Then the film transitions to the realism of the city scenes.  Finally, the movie displays the interplay of light and shadows with Kathie entering the bar through a doorway framed in black with bright light outside and muted light with reflected shadows on the inside walls.

The viewer learns from the voiceover that Jeff Marcos has been following Kathie for the several days from Mexico City to Oaxaca to Acapulco and when she enters La Mar Azul he does not care about the $40,000.  The viewer wonders if Jeff is a private detective or some insurance investigator.  When Kathie and Jeff meet the local man the viewer discovers that Kathie does not wear earrings.  Afterward, Jeff gives Kathie the impression that he is a tourist who is traveling alone and wanting company.  Kathie tells Jeff about a cantina Pablo's where a performer sings American music, and she goes there sometimes.  Both Kathie and Jeff appear homesick for the States and uninterested in taking in the tourist sights.

Thisi scene contributes to the style of film noir given that the viewer is provided just enough information to engage interest and stir intrigue with the location being exotic which adds to the mystery.  All of the time that Kathie and Jeff are talking,a person begins to wonders what that $40,000 is all about!

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I think Robert Mitchum is a grossly under appreciated actor. He was a topn notch acting for playing parts that were morally ambiguous. Unlike Fred MacMurray who, although he was good, sometimes took a bid of self convincing to believe in his characters. There is none of that with Mitchum.

 

Here he says a lot just with his mannerism and body movements. As noir films continued to grow in popularity the use of body language and silence become just as pivotal as the crisp dialogue.

 

This scene employs elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight by utilizing close ups, have clever dialogue and a very clear establishment of Greer as an unconventional woman. Mitchum is very commanding and the way he is frame din the scene is very nourish in that he's never at the center of everything but yet remains a vital component. The use of shadows and light is very noir and the daylight only enhances its use. also the narrative use with Mitchum and the flashbacks are in the style.

 

We learn early on that two characters will cross paths in interesting ways. We learn that each one has a method to how they do things and each one appears to have a strong will and a penchant for cunning and guile. Both characters are suspicious by nature and there is indeed a certain convoluted sense of morality beneath all of their individual layers. These are complex characters.

This scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir in that it showed the medium could be toyed with and experimented with in style. you no longer needed a smoky dark room too tell the stories. It also developed noir because there is not a formality to the clothes each character is wearing. The fashion is looser and less coat and tie. They way the scene uses light is an advancement as is the idea of coming out of sunlight into a darker setting. Now director s could toy with settings and transitions from day into night for example. 

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Ahhh, Kathie Moffat.  It doesn’t get much more femme or fatale than this.  Kathie is not just a runaway thief; to the men in the film, she’s an object to be possessed at all costs.  Forget the money she stole just bring her back!  The irony is Kathie is so attractive, yet so dangerous, that even temporarily being with her is a potential death sentence waiting to happen.

 

In this clip from Out Of The Past, Jacques Tourneur (1947) we learn from detective Jeff’s (Robert Mitchum) voice over narration that he didn’t find it too difficult to find Kathie (Jane Greer) after she runs away from Whit (Kirk Douglas) with forty grand of his money.  Jeff is highly competent and patient.  His angle on being a lonely tourist gets the guarded Kathie’s attention and she gives him the invite with her departure from the café.

 

The shooting, camera angles in this scene are fairly typical.  Full shot, two shot, singles at the table.  The scene is about two characters that talk to one another and it’s shot in a fairly straightforward manner.  In terms of the sunny Mexico climate, that ends when they enter the shadowy café, La Mar Azul.

 

What is interesting in this scene and where it contributes to the noir sensibility is not so much the camera angles but the recurring composition with the characters framed within a frame.  The door arch serves as a frame for Kathie’s entrance and exit.  Inside the café, Jeff is composed under an arch and, while he’s seated alone at his table, he's framed behind an opening to what appears to be the back room.

 

The frame within a frame helps not only divide the light of the exteriors from the shadows of the interiors but it also uses the architecture of the cantina to contain both characters.  Kathie and Jeff trapped alone and with one another is a theme that runs throughout the film and director Tourneur and cinematographer Musuraca set up their shots to fully express this idea.

 

-Mark

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Daily Dose of Darkness #13: Out of the Sun and into the Shadows (Scene from Out of the Past)

 

—How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight?

Jeff, as the narrator at the beginning, tells us it’s hot in Acapulco, hotter than anywhere else. I have the sense that the heat takes the place of the night for this film. Showing Jeff slumped in his seat in the café with a half-finished beer on the table in front of him adds to the lethargy of the whole sequence. I’ve been noticing how well-dressed everyone is in these films noir. The characters often don’t seem hot or troubled or down on their luck because the men are in suits and ties and the women are in beautiful dresses. But I believe it’s hot in this sequence in Acapulco. I particularly liked the way that Jeff gets up from the table and drops a coin, and his eyes follow its path toward Kathie’s table—and we can hear it on the soundtrack rolling along. It’s a bit of realism that works perfectly. Who hasn’t dropped a coin and heard it rolling along as though it’s the loudest sound in the world!

—What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence?

Jeff is tailing Kathie, but we don’t know why, at least not from this short clip. (I haven’t seen the movie yet.) He is persistent, but he seems interested and kind. Kathie seems sad. She tries to fend off Jeff, but she eventually smiles when he says that he doesn’t wear earrings. When she leaves Jeff, she tells him about Pablo’s, but she doesn’t smile any more. I want to know what has brought her to Acapulco and why she seems so sad. And I want to know what brought Jeff to Acapulco in search of Kathie.

—In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir?

I think, when I see the whole movie, Out of the Past will show that white-hot heat can work just as well as the dark of night for setting up mood. Jeff and Kathie may be in sunny Acapulco, but they seem to have secrets that might not be safe to know when they are “brought to light.”

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Kathy Moffat is in control of Jeff in the cantina scene.  He is smitten as soon as she is silhouetted at the threshold.  She is a delicate beauty, smart, rude, sarcastic and appealing all at the same time, a dangerous combination.  She has stolen $40,000 from someone and is running for her life. Jeff is smart.  He waits in Alcapulco to intercept her flight from Mexico city and the United States because he deduces since she is headed south, she has to catch the boat south from Alcapulco.  I don't know how he picked the right cantina, La Mare Azul( the Blue Sea), she could have gone to Pablos's.  Jeff buys her jade earrings, she refuses them, and they become his. Jade symbolizes life, death and transition through corn, water and snakes in Mexico.  Jeff is about to be bitten and transition to the dark side, death. Like deadly Annie Laurie Starr in Gun Crazy, Kathy will get Jeff to kill for her and betray him.  We get an inkling of her control of him when she seductively invites him to Pablo's where he can hear "American music for a dollar". Then he will be on her turf. Jeff's problem is he has fallen in love with her already, and she is no Mrs. Vivian Sternwood Rutledge (The Big Sleep) or Laura.  He thinks he is following her until she catches him.  Once he accepts the bait, he is lost.  Jeff makes a deadly mistake. He has misjudged character. Philip Marlowe would not have made the same mistake.
 

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 -- How does this scene employ elements of the noir style while most of the scene is shot during daylight?

 

Depth of field, everything is in focus as Kathie passes from sunlight to the shadowed interior.

 

-- What do we learn about the characters of Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in this sequence?

 

Jeff is smitten at first sight, Kathie plays it safe but is intrigued enough to leave him an opening by telling him about the cantina with the American music.

 

-- In what ways do you think this scene from Out of the Past contributed to the development of film noir?

 

The Femme Fatale is about to play cat & mouse.

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The noir style is apparent from the start with Robert Mitchumn's (Jeff) first person voiceover-- talking about the weather (heat), hotels, showing tourist like attractions, etc. and tracing his movements as he  follows Jane Greer (Katie ) to Mexico City then to Acapulco, while using photographic shots from the air. The  look and sound is just like a documentary film -- cynimatic realism which persists throught this scene. He also mentions getting vacinations for travel suggesting  international intrigue and a mystery story with a private detictive and a pretty femme fatale.The setting is a bar, typical for a Noir film. There is a mention of loud music from the theatre next door, but the music is actually slow with pretty melody, evoking a very romantic setting-- a bit different than the jazz one might expect.  But the music and lighting works, giving a new flavor to Noir films, compared to what we have sceen so far. The entrance of Katie is exceptionally dramatic as far as the lighting goes. As was mentioned in the curator's note, the movement from lighting where the dress as almost the same as the background, through shadows into a darker setting where the contrast of the white dress with the background is obvious, really highlighted Katie's movement and subtle seductiveness.

 

Mystery was further planted when Jeff gets up to go to Kate's table, and hears her drop something on the floor. He looks up,  steps closer and picks it up, but the tourist guide's sudden appearance prevents him for giving the object back to her. He puts it into his pocket when he reaches for monney to pay for the earings, and never mentions it to her. I suspect this object will play a role later in the film. I watched the clip three tme and did not see this until the third time. Katie did not mention it to jeff, suggesting she wanted him to keep it. Could this be the key to her room ?  At any rate, the viewer is really drawn into the film by such events, as well as by the beauty of Kate when seen in close ups of the face. She really has a beautiful face. The hat with the large brim encircling her face almost seems angelic-- "halo like". There is a mention of $40,000 by Jeff, the meaning of which is not yet clear. I think Katie also says, "there is always  Rodreguise,"  or some such name, when Jeff is lamenting about being alone and having nothing to do, and no one to share life with.  Katie then drops the name of a bar that she might visit an Jeff says he might see her there "wearing my new earings." ( which she has refused to accept as a gift from Jeff). This scene contains classical Noir repartee between the two actors, a flirting style with hard biting wit laced with humor. A great opening scene well acted and directed. It seems that all opening scenes are well made.

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Even though this film is shot with bright lights (sun) there are still dark contrasting shadows. Robert Mitchums character sits alone in a shadowy corner when she walks in. The lights cast large shadows on the walls...like that of the plant when they are leaving the restaurant.

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And off topic here; when Kirk Douglas shows up as the mob boss, it feels like a cameo from an important, big-time star. Until you realize that this was only his second movie! His second movie, and already he commands the screen in such a way that he makes Robert Mitchum seem small! This film is amazing, it really does have everything.

Not really off topic, it's all about film!  Isn't is possible what you were reading in Kirk Douglas's role was more of an actor's interpretation of a gangster king-pin, over confident, and powerful rather than a big-time star feeling his ego?  I can't see Robert Mitchum as small.  Even when he's out gunned and overpowered by the bad guys, he's still holding his own. Illustrated later on in the film when Mitchum is forcibly taken to John Kellogg's office and punched.  "OK that makes us even, don't try again..." something to that effect.  Subdued, manipulated but never small.  And if it was a bit of Douglas's "star power" motivating Whit, well I guess it worked well!  We agree, excellent movie! 

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This film is another example of the film noir style of film making. The use of lighting and an understanding of how it will show on the big screen is evident in this scene. You must give great credit to both Musuraca and Tourneur for their work with the light or lack of it. When you deal with film noir, you are working with black and white film predominantly and you must have a feel for how the black, white and gray will appear on film. It

must have been a challenge to go through a scene and realize how good or bad it would be once you looked at the dailies. If it was not properly shot the cost to retake would hamper the budget; so you had to get it right the first time or times (retakes) on that day.

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Does anyone else notice that noir antiheroes and femme fatales always wear white when they're in South America. Was this some unwritten American rule?

Anyways, back to the scene. The image of Greer waltzing in from the sunlight is the stuff of noir legend, and it's done with such a visual grace from both Tourneur and Musuraca that it gets you even when you know it's coming. It may defy the noir stereotype of a shadow filled night, but it's executed so well the rules don't really apply here. This sequence is so doused in Val Lewton visual cues that his two students manage to out Lewton-esque the man himself!

It also serves as a nice metaphor, as Greer's character descends from the brightness to the dark shade as soon as Mitchum lays his eyes on her. That's definitely a foreshadowing (no pun intented) of what's to come. As far as films noir go, this one's pretty much got it all. And this small sample provides a perfect glimpse into the tonally dark but visually bright world of Out Of The Past.

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