241 user 145 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.


Jacques Tourneur


Daniel Mainwaring (screen play by) (as Geoffrey Homes), Daniel Mainwaring (based on his novel "Build My Gallows High") (as Geoffrey Homes)
505 ( 4,999)
1 win. See more awards »




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


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Filming got off to a rocky start with a near-fatal plane accident at the Bridgeport (CA) airport landing field. The pilot, accompanied by Robert Mitchum, a studio accountant, and an assistant to executive Warren Duff, realized his brakes didn't work when they touched down, causing the plane to crash through a fence, over a ditch, and through an outhouse before coming to a stop. Although the two men in the back seat were knocked unconscious, Mitchum and the pilot were not hurt. Typical of Mitchum's nonchalant attitude, he quickly crawled out of the wreckage, dusted off his clothes and thumbed a ride into town to begin filming. See more »


When Jeff is at Whit's gate getting ready to go in, there are two large dark stains on the bottom left side of his coat, but later on, when he is at Eels' place, the stains are now gone. See more »


Whit: You know San Francisco, don't you?
Jeff: Yeah, I was there once for a party.
Whit: And you got around?
Jeff: Like the monkey and the weasel.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Referenced in The Best of Film Noir (1999) See more »


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

User Reviews

Utterly brilliant movie which is a strong contender for the greatest film-noir ever made.
27 May 2003 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

I have been a fan of Jacques Tourneur's horror movies ('Cat People', 'Night Of The Demon', 'I Walked With A Zombie',etc.) for many years, but for some reason I hadn't seen 'Out Of The Past' until very recently. Regarded by many noir buffs as one of the very best examples of the genre, if not THE best, it knocked my socks off! Some movies are so good that you almost can't believe they exist. 'Vertigo', 'Rashomon', 'Taxi Driver', 'Cool Hand Luke', 'The Wild Bunch', 'The Wages Of Fear', these are some titles that immediately spring to mind. Your jaw just drops in amazement, and repeated viewing reveal more layers and levels of enjoyment. 'Out Of The Past' now joins that group of very special movies for me. Tourneur's horror classics are brilliant works, but this movie surpasses them all to me. Everything about this movie is superb. The direction, photography, script (which crime legend James M. Cain of 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' and 'Double Indemnity' fame contributed to anonymously), and the actors. The cast are all good, but Robert Mitchum steals the show with a first rate performance, second only in my opinion to his unforgettable role in the extraordinary 'Night Of The Hunter'. The beautiful Jane Greer is also excellent, as is Kirk Douglas. If you want to get into film-noir and understand just how influential it was on subsequent movies, make 'Out Of The Past' your first stop. It is a masterpiece, pure and simple. I know this movie will be in my life for a very long time, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. 'Out Of The Past' comes with my highest recommendation. I can't put into words just how great this movie is, so just watch it for yourself.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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