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Out of the Past (1947)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  13 November 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 21,168 users  
Reviews: 158 user | 115 critic

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.



(screenplay) (as Geoffrey Homes) , (novel) (as Geoffrey Homes) , 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Richard Webb ...
Steve Brodie ...
Virginia Huston ...
Paul Valentine ...
The Kid
Ken Niles ...


Jeff Bailey, small-town gas pumper, has his mysterious past catch up with him one day when he's ordered to meet with gambler Whit Sterling. En route to the meeting, he tells girlfriend Ann his story. Flashback: Once, Jeff was a private eye hired by Sterling to find his mistress Kathie who shot Whit and absconded with $40,000. He traces her to Acapulco...where the delectable Kathie makes Jeff forget all about Sterling... Back in the present, Whit's new job for Jeff is clearly a trap, but Jeff's precautions only leave him more tightly enmeshed... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A MAN - Trying to run away from his past... A WOMAN - Trying to escape her future! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

13 November 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Goldenes Gift  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Released in the UK as "Build My Gallows High". See more »


Leonard Eels's apartment at 114 Fulton Street would be part of the block then occupied by the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library (now the Asian Art Museum). See more »


Kathie Moffat: Did you miss me?
Jeff Bailey: No more than I would my eyes.
See more »


Referenced in Veronica Mars: Hi, Infidelity (2006) See more »


The First Time I Saw You
from 'The Toast of New York' (1937)
Music by Nathaniel Shilkret
Used as main theme in score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of best 40's film noir - and where is it ?

Tremendously stylish, brilliantly scripted and wonderfully directed noir classic about a man who cannot escape from his past. Rarely does the genre get away from the grimy city streets with it's dark corridors and alleyways only partially lit by un-realistic streams of bright light. In this film we not only see the underworld gangs, the bars and floozies, the heavies and the fatales, but we also see the bright beautiful countryside, the streams and the rocks - a complete otherworld.

Mitchum is superb as the man who has escaped the city to live a new life in the country only to be dragged back by powerful forces. This broadening of the cinematic landscape makes the movie more affecting than your assorted Bogarts' & Ladds'. As with 'I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang' I feel much more sympathy for the lead actor who gets dragged back into the bear pit to wrestle for his life and soul.

'Out of the Past' also has some of the finest dialogue and narration I have ever heard, probably matched only by 'The Maltese Falcon'. 'She was like an autumn leaf blowing from gutter to gutter', is one gem that sticks in my mind.

The mood of the film is pleasantly melancholic and the portrayal of the fatale figure (Jane Greer) is particularly sympathetic. In most noir movies the male perspective of the double-crossing woman predominates (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's usually very funny). Here however, whilst Greer presents one of the blackest of women you at least know why she does what she does and can sympathise with her plight. She is trapped too.

Tourneur, tragically made few films but was a master at getting messages deep into your psyche, into your soul. 'Cat People 'and 'I Walked With a Zombie' both had otherworlds where the demons lived. We all have otherworlds too, places we'd rather not go very often, but as with Mitchum we are sometimes confronted with those demons and have to do battle once again. When I go next I hope to be wearing my hat at an exquisite angle and have my trench coat well belted.

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