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.

Director:

Jacques Tourneur

Writers:

Daniel Mainwaring (screen play by) (as Geoffrey Homes), Daniel Mainwaring (based on his novel "Build My Gallows High") (as Geoffrey Homes)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Jeff
Jane Greer ... Kathie
Kirk Douglas ... Whit
Rhonda Fleming ... Meta Carson
Richard Webb ... Jim
Steve Brodie ... Fisher
Virginia Huston ... Ann
Paul Valentine ... Joe
Dickie Moore ... The Kid
Ken Niles Ken Niles ... Eels
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A guy without a fortune! A girl with too much past! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At age 15, Jane Greer was struck with facial palsy and lost all movement on the left side of her face. She gradually recovered, but it has been speculated that this contributed to her "patented look" - an enigmatic expression that would later lead RKO to promote her as "The woman with the Mona Lisa smile." See more »

Goofs

After Stefanos realizes Jeff has something to do with the disappearance of the corpse of the attorney he killed, he asks Kathie, "Where's Bailey?". But Stefanos knows Jeff by his original last name of Markham, he only briefly learned he goes by Bailey now, so there's no reason for him to call Jeff by that name, especially in a tense moment. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Ann: Was he going away with her? I have to know. Was he going away with her?
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Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Vision Éternel: Pièce No. Trois (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Time I Saw You
(uncredited)
Music by Nathaniel Shilkret
From The Toast of New York (1937)
Used as main theme in score
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User Reviews

One of best 40's film noir - and where is it ?
6 February 1999 | by xander-2See all my reviews

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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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

December 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Build My Gallows High See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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