Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list
Out of the Past
dir. Jacques Tourneur scr. Daniel Mainwaring based on his novel Build My Gallows High cin. Nicholas Musuraca with Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhoda Fleming, Richard Webb, Steve Brodie,Virginia Huston, Paul Valentine, and Dickie Moore
In 100 words: The greatest of all noirs has a sly sense of humor: Mitchum delivers one-liners with such casual indifference adding weight and levity to his words. Torneaur makes elegant images, filling rooms with so much cigarette smoke that may suggest characters expressing themselves through every puff. The plot keeps turning, making it difficult to keep track of who’s double-crossing who. But despite that, a sense of loss emanates from Mitchum’s Jeff that’s quite unusual for this genre. Greer too feels more cunning than the average femme fatale, but I love how her desperation reads across her face, even when performing coolly.
Other Movies for Context: Tourneur makes handsome images as apparent in one picture I’ve seen of his called Cat People (1942), which is quite literal despite its eerie affectations. As far as noirs go, I love The Big Heat (1953) and In a Lonely Place (1950), which just suggests how much I adore Gloria Grahame.