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Out of the Past

out of the past, out of the past robert mitchum
Out of the Past billed in the United Kingdom as Build My Gallows High is a 1947 film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas The film was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring using the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes, with uncredited revisions by Frank Fenton and James M Cain, from his novel Build My Gallows High also written as Homes

Film historians consider Out of the Past a superb example of film noir due to its complicated, dark storyline, dark cinematography and classic femme fatale The film's cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca also shot Tourneur's Cat People In 1991, Out of the Past was added to the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"1


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Background and production
  • 4 Reception
    • 41 Box office
    • 42 Critical response
    • 43 American Film Institute list nominations
  • 5 Adaptations
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


Robert Mitchum as Jeff Bailey and Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past

Joe Stefanos arrives in a small town, Bridgeport, California, in search of Jeff Bailey Jeff, owner of the town's gas station, is on a picnic with wholesome local girl Ann Miller Stefanos sends Jeff's deaf young employee, The Kid, to retrieve Jeff, then informs Jeff that Whit Sterling wants to see him Though Ann trusts Jeff implicitly, her parents are wary of him, as is Jim, a local police officer who has been sweet on Ann since childhood Jeff reluctantly agrees to meet with Whit, and Ann joins him to drive through the night to Whit's home on Lake Tahoe On the way, Jeff tells Ann of his past in flashback

Jeff Bailey's real name is Jeff Markham He and partner Jack Fisher were private investigators in New York Jeff had been hired by shady businessman Whit to find his girlfriend, Kathie Moffat Whit claimed she shot him and stole $40,000 from him Jeff is hesitant, sensing that finding Kathie will result in her death Whit assures Jeff he just wants her back, and will not harm her

Kathie's maid tells Jeff that she's gone to Florida, but Jeff guesses Mexico because of the particular inoculations Kathie received He goes to Acapulco and waits, eventually striking up an acquaintance with her A love affair develops, and Jeff ultimately admits that he had been sent by Whit Kathie sensed this from the start and has been spinning a web for him She denies taking Whit’s money and pleads with Jeff to run away with her

Preparing to leave, Jeff is surprised by the arrival of Whit and Stefanos, checking up on his lack of progress Jeff asks to be taken off the case, but Whit refuses Jeff lies that Kathie slipped past him and is on a steamer going south Whit instructs Jeff to keep looking for her—instead, Jeff takes her north to San Francisco

They live in San Francisco as inconspicuously as possible, but an outing to the horse races goes bad when they are spotted by Jeff’s old partner, Fisher Jeff and Kathie split up, with Jeff making himself conspicuous in moving to Los Angeles Jeff seems to give Fisher the slip and eventually rejoins Kathie at a rural cabin, only to find that Fisher had actually followed her When Fisher demands money to keep quiet, the two men brawl Kathie suddenly shoots Fisher dead and flees without Jeff He finds her bank book, revealing a deposit of $40,000, the money she had denied taking from Whit

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in Out of the Past

Back to the present, Ann drops Jeff off at Whit's palatial estate Jeff is surprised when Kathie reappears She had returned to Whit and told the whole story Whit tells Jeff that doing one last job is the only way to make things right between them Whit's lawyer, Leonard Eels, has helped Whit dodge all taxes, but now wants $200,000 $2,145,000 today or he will give Whit's business records to the taxman, which would put Whit in prison Whit wants Jeff to recover the records, but Jeff realizes that he is being set up

In San Francisco, he meets Eels' secretary, Meta Carson, who is secretly conspiring with Whit He is introduced by her to Eels, leaving his fingerprints on a glass Jeff returns and finds Eels dead He hides the body and retrieves the business records, but is told by the devious Kathie who has impersonated Meta Carson that she gave Whit a signed affidavit swearing that Jeff killed Fisher, setting up Jeff to be a double murderer—reported as such in the morning papers

Jeff returns to the Bridgeport area Unbeknownst to Whit, Kathie has ordered Stefanos to trail The Kid so he can find and kill Jeff The Kid drives to a steep, narrow, canyon where Jeff is hiding The Kid spots Stefanos taking aim at Jeff and quickly hooks him with a fishing line, causing Stefanos to lose his balance and fall to his death

Jeff goes back to Whit's mansion, telling him of Kathie's double cross and the death of Stefanos He offers that the death of Stefanos, Eels' actual murderer, can be made to look like a guilt-ridden suicide, removing Jeff from that frame up Furthermore, he will return the business records to Whit if he destroys Kathie's affidavit and hands her to the police for Fisher's death Whit takes the offer, and Jeff believes he has worked his way out of the trap

Jeff makes a quick visit to Ann, returning to Tahoe to discover that Kathie has killed Whit She gives Jeff the choice of running away with her and a satchel of Whit's money, or taking the blame for all three murders He agrees to go with her, but phones the state police while she is upstairs packing Driving up to a police roadblock, Kathie realizes that Jeff has betrayed her and shoots him dead She then fires at the police, who fatally shoot her

When the news reaches Bridgeport, Jim offers to take Ann away Ann asks the Kid if Jeff had been planning to run away with Kathie Wanting to free Ann, The Kid lies and nods his head Ann returns to Jim and she drives off with him


  • Robert Mitchum as Jeff Bailey, previously known as Jeff Markham
  • Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat
  • Kirk Douglas as Whit Sterling
  • Rhonda Fleming as Meta Carson
  • Richard Webb as Jim
  • Steve Brodie as Jack Fisher
  • Virginia Huston as Ann Miller
  • Paul Valentine as Joe Stefanos
  • Dickie Moore as The Kid
  • Ken Niles as Leonard Eels
  • Theresa Harris as Eunice Leonard

Background and productionedit

Out of the Past was produced by RKO Pictures, and the key personnel — director Jacques Tourneur, cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, actors Mitchum and Greer, along with Albert S D'Agostino's design group — were long-time RKO collaborators Although the studio had focused on making the more lucrative B-films during the early 1940s,23 Out of the Past was given an A-budget

John Garfield and Dick Powell turned down the lead4

Kirk Douglas plays a supporting part as Mitchum's antagonist in this film The next time Mitchum and Douglas played major roles in the same picture was in the Western The Way West alongside Richard Widmark two decades later


Box officeedit

The film made a profit of $90,0004

Critical responseedit

Out of the Past is considered one of the greatest of all films noir567 Robert Ottoson hailed the film as "the ne plus ultra of forties film noir"8

Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote, "However, as we say, it's very snappy and quite intriguingly played by a cast that has been well and smartly directed by Jacques Tourneur Robert Mitchum is magnificently cheeky and self-assured as the tangled 'private eye,' consuming an astronomical number of cigarettes in displaying his nonchalance And Jane Greer is very sleek as his Delilah, Kirk Douglas is crisp as a big crook and Richard Webb, Virginia Huston, Rhonda Fleming and Dickie Moore are picturesque in other roles If only we had some way of knowing what's going on in the last half of this film, we might get more pleasure from it As it is, the challenge is worth a try"9

The staff at Variety wrote, "Out of the Past is a hardboiled melodrama from the novel by Geoffrey Homes strong on characterization Direction by Jacques Tourneur pays close attention to mood development, achieving realistic flavor that is further emphasized by real life settings and topnotch lensing by Nicholas MusuracaMitchum gives a very strong account of himself Jane Greer as the baby-faced, charming killer is another lending potent interest Kirk Douglas, the gangster, is believable and Paul Valentine makes role of henchman stand out Rhonda Fleming is in briefly but effectively"10

In a 2004 review of the film, critic Roger Ebert wrote "Out of the Past is one of the greatest of all film noirs, the story of a man who tries to break with his past and his weakness and start over again in a town, with a new job and a new girl The film stars Robert Mitchum, whose weary eyes and laconic voice, whose very presence as a violent man wrapped in indifference, made him an archetypal noir actor The story opens before we've even seen him, as trouble comes to town looking for him A man from his past has seen him pumping gas, and now his old life reaches out and pulls him back"7 Ebert also called it, "The greatest cigarette-smoking movie of all time"11 "The trick, as demonstrated by Jacques Tourneur and his cameraman, Nicholas Musuraca, is to throw a lot of light into the empty space where the characters are going to exhale When they do, they produce great white clouds of smoke, which express their moods, their personalities and their energy levels There were guns in Out of the Past, but the real hostility came when Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas smoked at each other"11

American Film Institute list nominationsedit

  • AFI's 100 Years100 Movies12
  • AFI's 100 Years100 Thrills13
  • AFI's 100 Years100 Passions14
  • AFI's 100 Years100 Heroes and Villains:
    • Whit Sterling, villain15
  • AFI's 100 Years100 Movie Quotes:16
    • Jeff: "You know, maybe I was wrong and luck is like love You have to go all the way to find it"
    • Kathie: "I think we deserve a break" Jeff: "We deserve each other"16
  • AFI's 100 Years100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition17


Out of the Past was remade as Against All Odds 1984 with Rachel Ward in the Greer role, Jeff Bridges filling in for Mitchum, and James Woods as a variation of Kirk Douglas' villain, with Jane Greer as the mother of her original character in Out of the Past and Richard Widmark in a supporting role


  1. ^ Andrews, Roberts M October 11, 1991 "25 Films Designated For Preservation" St Louis Post-Dispatch Lee Enterprises 
  2. ^ Schatz 1999, p 173, table 63
  3. ^ Crafton, Donald 1997 The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926–1931 History of the American cinema, volume 4 New York: Charles Scribner's Sons p 210 ISBN 0-684-19585-2 OCLC 37608321 
  4. ^ a b Richard B Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
  5. ^ Ballinger, Alexander; Graydon, Danny 2007 The Rough Guide to Film Noir Rough Guides reference guides London: Rough Guides pp 56, 151–52 ISBN 1-84353-474-6 OCLC 78989518 
  6. ^ Schatz 1999, p 364
  7. ^ a b Ebert, Roger July 18, 2004 "Out of the Past 1947" Chicago Sun-Times Sun-Times Media Group Retrieved February 1, 2008 
  8. ^ Ottoson, Robert 1981 A Reference Guide to the American Film Noir, 1940-1958 Metuchen, NJ, and London: Scarecrow Press p 132 ISBN 0-8108-1363-7 OCLC 6708669 
  9. ^ Crowther, Bosley November 26, 1947 "Out of the Past 1947" The New York Times The New York Times Company Retrieved February 1, 2008 
  10. ^ "Out of the Past Review" Variety Reed Business Information 1947 Retrieved February 1, 2008 
  11. ^ a b Ebert, Roger - 200 Cigarettes Chicago Sun, February 26, 1999 This review also later appeared in the book by Roger Ebert, "I Hated Hated Hated HATED this movie"
  12. ^ "AFI's 100 Years100 Greatest American Movies Nominees" PDF Retrieved 2012-08-27 
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years100 Thrills Nominees" PDF Retrieved 2011-11-01 
  14. ^ "AFI's 100 Years100 Passions Nominees" PDF Retrieved 2011-11-01 
  15. ^ "AFI's 100 Years100 Heroes and Villains Nominees" PDF Retrieved 2011-11-01 
  16. ^ a b "AFI's 100 Years100 Movie Quotes Nominees" PDF Retrieved 2011-11-01 
  17. ^ "Movies_Ballot_06" PDF Retrieved 2011-11-01 
  • Schatz, Thomas 1999 1997 Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s History of the American cinema, volume 6 Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press ISBN 0-520-22130-3 OCLC 40907588 

External linksedit

  • Out of the Past on Internet Movie Database
  • Out of the Past at AllMovie
  • Out of the Past at the TCM Movie Database
  • Out of the Past at the American Film Institute Catalog
  • Out of the Past at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Out of the Past at AMC Filmsiteorg
  • Out of the Past essay by Michael Mills at Moderntimescom
  • Out of the Past scene on YouTube

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Out of the Past

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    Out of the Past beatiful post thanks!


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