Our exploration of TCM’s Greatest Classic Legends: Robert Mitchum DVD set continues with the second feature, Out of the Past. Previous review from this set: Angel Face
Film #2: Out of the Past (1947)
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Written by Geoffrey Homes
Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Like Angel Face, Out of the Past was a re-watch for me, and these two films were the reason I purchased the Mitchum set. I adore each film, but owned neither on DVD. My love of Out of the Past grows each time I watch it, though somehow I’ve never reviewed it for the blog!
Mitchum stars as Jeff Bailey, a gas station owner with a somewhat seedy past. He’s been tracked down by Whit Sterling (Douglas), a gambler who three years ago hired Bailey to find his runaway girlfriend, Kathie (Greer). It should have been a pretty simple case — track down the girl, and bring her back to New York. But things became complicated when Jeff fell for Kathie himself.
This film incorporates many of my favorite things: flashbacks, stellar cinematography, and a very tense atmosphere built from the very start. The dialogue is pretty great as well, with lots of flirty banter between Greer and Mitchum. Exhibit A:
Kathie: “I’m taller than Napoleon.”
Jeff: “You’re prettier, too.”
Such a charmer, that dimple-chinned Jeff.
Jane Greer is amazing in one of old Hollywood’s best “femme fatale” roles. She has a strong screen presence, but there’s also something sort of weary about her, in the beginning of the film in particular. This makes her character all the more interesting. I honestly can’t praise her performance enough. (That satisfied look on her face just before she shoots the man that Jeff is fist-fighting with… perfection!)
Greer and Mitchum make a sizzling couple, but let’s not forget about the film’s other great screen pair: Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, who share some fantastic scenes. So much anger and distrust exists between their characters. The film is electric as a result.
Out of the Past is spectacularly well-made in all aspects, from direction, to cinematography, to performance, to script. There’s even an unusual and inventive twist on the almost-death of the leading man. I won’t spoil it, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the film yet… but I will say that it involves a fishing hook!
This is a top-notch film in every way, required viewing for any fan of Robert Mitchum… basically making its inclusion in this “Greatest Classic Legends” set mandatory.
Special features: Commentary by James Ursini
Ursini’s commentary is very informative, packed with information about the film’s stars as well as the film itself and the genre of noir. He discusses the elements of noir and how this film fits as a great example of the genre. Another fun takeaway: apparently Mitchum & Greer later appeared on SNL and spoofed this film?! I need to track that clip down!