Qt3 Movie Club 2.0 #Lucky 13: Out of the Past

“I always say everbody’s right.”

With the recent pick of “Night of the Hunter” I almost didn’t go for this film. But ever since we started the QT3 movie club I knew this was the one I wanted to share with people, and all the love for Robert Mitchum in the Night thread made me realize that at least a few people here will appreciate discovering this movie as much as I did.

I’ve watched fifty or more classic Film Noir films over the last few years, and this was not only one of the first ones I saw, but easily remains one of the best. I’ve seen it twice since that first time, including once on the big screen, and each time I do I discover that there’s something more to love about it.

Nothing is ever quite what it seems in this movie. Gears shift constantly, from small town drama to big city action, and everything in between. With an ending that defined the genre, there’s plenty of twists and turns on the way, with a narrative structure that constantly defies the usual “a to b” storylines of the period.

Robert Mitchum is flat out awesome in this film, peeling away the layers of his character at the same time he’s adding more, and Jane Greer gives the performance of a lifetime. I defy you to watch this film and not wish to be caught up in her web, at least a little bit.

[URL=“http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Out_of_the_Past/60036713?trkid=222336&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&strkid=625747276_0_0”]Here’s the Netflix link.

Great movie, fantastic, even for Noir.

It makes a nice contrast to Night of the Hunter because Mitchum’s performance is totally different.

Allegedly both Kirk Douglas and Mitchum were trying to underplay each other. Their interactions are amazing examples of cool as a result.

Looking forward to seeing this again.


Not surprisingly, I love this movie. This was the flick (along with Kiss Me Deadly) that really got my wife into watching noir with me. Can’t wait to watch it again!

Great movie. Just watched it for the first time.

I noticed the lighting and shadows on Mitchum’s face (when discovering another thing he wish he hadn’t discovered) was startling in it’s crispness and a shock that I’ve seen that shot before. It’s unsettling how many times I’ve seen these images in montages of great movie moments and had no idea where they came from.

The dialogue was fantastic and the amount of smoking was phenomenal. Truely an art form. I think this might beat All About Eve out for my favorite smoking movie.

PS. Thanks Qt3, now I have a man-crush on Robert Mitchum. How can I explain it to my wife that this is not an retro-ironic film geek phase but honest to goodness giddiness when he drawls baby, I don’t care.

I was struck by just how genteel and reserved everyone was even when plotting against each other.

It’s a trope of Noir. It’s supposedly a heavy metaphor for sex during the period of the Hayes Code.

That and dancing. Classic-era musicals make a lot more sense when you assume that whenever two people dance by themselves, they’re really gettin’ it on.

Except in the cases when it is just smoking (and dancing).

Smoke adds tons to the mood and the mystery, and photographs beautifully.
Smoking also solves the problem with what to do with one’s hand(s) while acting. Also, Mitchum and Boggart, two of the definitive noir stars, were both heavy smokers irl, which might have affected (or not) their on-screen appearance.
And not in the last place, smoking is featured prominently in the hardboiled detective fiction which is the basis of lots of the noir stuff. Translating this cigar abuse on the screen is only natural.

But if you watch enough noir you begin to realize that sometimes lighting a cigarette might as well be a shot of a train going into a tunnel

Man, what a great movie. It’s a shame they fucked up the DVD transfer by stretching it to 16x9. (16x9 is a 1.77 aspect ratio. The original was filmed in 1.37. The result is a Mitchum 30% fatter than he ought to be.)

Also, young Kirk Douglas is a better Andy Garcia than Andy Garcia. Who knew?

Absolutely my favorite Kirk Douglas performance ever. Also “Whit Sterling” could be the whitest name ever.

Er… what? Mine was in the correct aspect ratio. You sure it wasn’t your player or your TV doing it?

So, at the end, when Ann asks the kid if Bailey was really going away with Kathie, he nods yes, then gives a nod towards Bailey’s sign. Even though Bailey wasn’t going away with her, he turned her in to the cops.

I take that to suggest that Bailey knew they were both going to die (thus “going away” to the same place), and didn’t want Ann pining away for him after he was gone. That, or the kid is in the running for greatest douchebag in all of cinema. I’m going with the former explanation :)

He figured that Bailey wouldn’t have wanted her to think what might have been and allow her to get on with her life with Jim, the greatest douchebag in all of cinema. So he lied because honesty isn’t always the best policy in Baileyland. That and we wanted to keep his fishing pole serial murder spree running without any dames getting in the way.

Well, I think it was an anamorphic transfer, and I could have switched my DVD player back to 480p and played at a 1:33 aspect ratio and it would have looked almost right. Playing in 720p, though, it ended up being 16x9. Old movies don’t lend themselves well to modern TVs because the aspect ratio is neither 4x3 nor 16x9.

Weird. My DVD player outputs 1080p, and it played back correctly. Or at least close enough to correctly that I didn’t notice anything odd (it certainly wasn’t stretched to 16:9).

Amusingly Ann’s parents are pretty much right about Jeff.

And god, does this film have some awesome lines:

Kathie Moffat: I didn’t know what I was doing. I, I didn’t know anything except how much I hated him. But I didn’t take anything. I didn’t, Jeff. Don’t you believe me?
Jeff Bailey: Baby, I don’t care.

Yeah it did:

Jack Fisher: You know, a dame with a rod is like a guy with a knitting needle.

Kathie Moffat: Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to die!
Jeff Bailey: Neither do I, baby, but if I have to I’m gonna die last.

Kathie Moffat: Oh Jeff, you ought to have killed me for what I did a moment ago.
Jeff Bailey: [dryly] There’s time.

the tough guy talk was awesome. i also liked how the deaf kid was the one to take out joe since he was a total jerk to him when they first talked as well as the actual method to do so.

i checked out the commentary for the last scene or two and amusingly the guy mentioned a lot of viewers thought moffat shot bailey in the crotch at the end.

interestingly, bailey gets caught twice by someone looking for him because they followed the girl he was seeing.

the other thing i liked about the film was the characters were generally smart, even when they were doing something stupid, and they could at least see that they were doing something stupid.

I never disliked Robert Michum but I didn’t really get him until I saw this (just now), and I have seen Night of the Hunter. I don’t think his face expressed any emotion except indifference throughout the entire film, but you absolutely buy him as a romantic.

You may or may not know that the director Jacques Tourneur did a series of horror films under producer Val Lawton that were praised for having similar qualities - Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, The Leopard Man.