8.1/10
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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.

Director:

Jacques Tourneur

Writers:

Daniel Mainwaring (screenplay) (as Geoffrey Homes), Daniel Mainwaring (novel) (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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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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart read the script and, seeing the similarities between this and The Maltese Falcon (1941), wanted to play Jeff. However, Warner Bros. didn't buy the material and RKO produced this movie. See more »

Goofs

When Jeff visits Leonard Eels' office building, there are clearly five names on the directory under 'E' in the long shot, but just two in the POV shot that follows immediately. See more »

Quotes

Jeff: Now, do you wanna talk business, or do you wanna play house...?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Moonlight: Out of the Past (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Time I Saw You
(uncredited)
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

 
Beloved film classic should be seen by more people
28 October 2002 | by funkyfrySee 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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