204 user 133 critic

Out of the Past (1947)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | December 1947 (USA)
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)

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Complete credited cast:
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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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:

December 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Build My Gallows High  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »


When Jeff is walking away from the lake, he is carrying a fishing rod that had no reel on it. See more »


Jeff: [voice-over] She waited until it was late. Then, she walked in out of the moonlight, smiling.
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Featured in The Best of Film Noir (1999) 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
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Beloved film classic should be seen by more people
28 October 2002 | by See all my reviews

Terrific exotic adventure/melodrama with gothic undertones. Douglas follows Mitchum following Greer to Mexico; murder and robbery follow everywhere femme fatale Greer goes. She's excellent; vulnerable eyes revealing the fear motivating her totally irrational, greedy actions. She and Mitchum are made for each other (it's a shame that this and the less exciting "The Big Steal" are their only films together as far as I know, although Greer did make a good pairing with the comparably skilled Richard Widmark in "Run for the Sun"). Every step of their twisted journey feels inevitable, painful, and joyous, like a death-row inmate smoking his last cigarette. Mitchum is at his best here as the patsy for Greer and Doublas' schemes, who plays along as if he knows better but is truly seeking absolution from death.

One of the best films ever made by Hollywood, all the more amazing considering it was made almost on the fly (what people today call a "film noir" but what the producers though of as a "B" movie).

Tourneur is one of the best low budget directors in the business; fans of good film will seek out his movies, which cover all the different genres of film. His father was one of the creators of film style, and he has a striking sense of visual composition himself, which he puts to excellent use in this, possibly his best film.

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