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Out of the Past


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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Webb
  • Directors: Jacques Tourneur
  • Writers: Daniel Mainwaring, Frank Fenton, James M. Cain
  • Producers: Robert Sparks, Warren Duff
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000244EYW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Out of the Past" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

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"Build my gallows high, baby"--just one of the quintessentially noir sentiments expressed by Robert Mitchum in this classic of the genre. Mitchum, in absolute prime, sleepy-eyed form, relates a complicated flashback about getting hired by gangster Kirk Douglas to find femme fatale Jane Greer. The chain of film noir elements--love, money, lies--drags Mitchum into the lower depths. Director Jacques Tourneur gets the edgy negotiations between men and women as exactly right as he gets the inky shadows of the noir landscape (even the sunlit exteriors are fraught with doubt). This is Mitchum in excelsis, with his usual laid-back cool laced with great dialogue and tragic foreshadowing. As for his co-star, James Agee immortally opined that Jane Greer "can best be described, in an ancient idiom, as a hot number." Remade in 1984, unhappily, as Against All Odds (with Greer in a supporting role). --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Out of the Past is a great example of film noir.
Samantha Glasser
The trio of Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas are central to the plot, and all are brilliant in their roles.
Robert I. Hedges
It was one of the best film noir's I've ever seen.
HENRY PLUMER

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on December 20, 2004
Format: DVD
Robert Mitchum stars in "Out of the Past" as Jeff Bailey. As the film opens, he is the owner of a small town gas station; he's romancing a beautiful girl (Virginia Huston) and his life seems idyllic. However, a stranger arrives looking for Bailey, and everything changes irrevocably. The story is told partially in flashback - enumerating his past with a cutthroat gangster (Kirk Douglas) and a mysterious moll (Jane Greer) - and partially in the present as his past ensnares him into a complicated morass of murder and revenge.

"Out of the Past" is a quintessential 1940s film noir, right up there with "Double Indemnity" and "The Maltese Falcon," although it's arguably not as well known as those classics. The script is whip-smart and filled with brilliant dialogue - a character asserts to Bailey, "Don't you see you've only me to make deals with now?" and Bailey shoots back, "Build my gallows high, baby." Each scene is perfectly shot with an abundance of ambience; director Jacques Tourneur specialized in moody films, such as "I Walked with a Zombie," and he certainly scores here. The plot is full of crosses and double-crosses - it's admittedly not one of the most complex film noirs; however, the characters are perfectly etched, and the film builds to a heartbreaking conclusion.

In 1991, "Out of the Past" was inducted into the National Film Registry, which protects important American films. The film clearly deserves this honor and fortunately will be preserved for future generations of film noir fans. Overall, "Out of the Past" is one of the best film noirs I've seen and a top-notch movie in every way. Most highly recommended.

DVD extras: the main extra is a somewhat dry but informative commentary by James Ursini, an author noted for writing about film noir.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 13, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is one of the best examples of Film Noir ever produced. Everything about the production is dark and troubling, yet so fascinating that you can't turn away. The trio of Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas are central to the plot, and all are brilliant in their roles. Mitchum is perfect as the cool and smart former Private Investigator turned gas station owner who finds out that he still has entanglements from his previous life, Kirk Douglas is the absolute embodiment of a cold, calculating career criminal, and beautiful Jane Greer manages to ensnare everyone in her web of mystery and deceit.
This is the ultimate intellectual crime drama, and a viewing of this film could teach contemporary directors how suspense is supposed to be executed. The plot is so intricate and involved that I won't even discuss it, other than to say this: pay attention. The abrupt plot twists rarely, if ever, turn out like a first time viewer would expect, and the suspense created by director Jacques Tourneur is palpable.
The DVD is going to be released soon, and I will be sure to augment my VHS copy with the new DVD. This film really is one of the classics of American cinema, and is definitely as absorbing and engrossing as anything made in the last fifty years. For a wild and suspenseful ride, with a plot full of twists, turns, and surprises until the very end, don't miss "Out of the Past!"
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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Fennessy on October 28, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
This classic film noir, featuring the twin cleft-chinned presences of
Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, has got to be one of the most
enjoyable ever made. It's not the somewhat confusing plot, but the
snappy dialogue -- and the confident acting -- which makes it work so
well. The repartee ("A woman with a rod is like a man with a
knitting needle") is worthy of some of the best screwball
comedies and yet it's just as dark as a noir should be in terms of the
desperate things the characters do and the terrible things that happen
to them as a consequence. Jacques Tourneur ("Cat People",
"I Walked With a Zombie") directs with finesse, but the
importance of an ace writer like James M. Cain ("The Postman
Always Rings Twice") -- uncredited for some reason -- can't be
stressed enough. He deserves as much credit for the success of the
film as Tourneur, Mitchum, Douglas, and shapely femme fatale Jane
Greer, the woman who seduces both Mitchum and Douglas -- rod in hand.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "weirdo_87" on April 21, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Film Noir. It is an odd, misunderstood, somewhat underappreciated genre. The genre is also widespread, with dramas and even some comedies having elements of the genre. Which films are the best examples of this group? "The Maltese Falcon", "Double Indemnity" and "Chinatown" are certainly good choices, but what about "Out of the Past"? For one thing, it has everything that defines this dark, unorthodox genre. A private detective (Robert Mitchum's Jeff Markam, who goes under the alias Bailey), a female fatale (Jane Greer's Kathie Moffett), a dangerous yet charismatic bad guy (Kirk Douglas's Whit Sterling), memorable dialogue ("Baby, I don't care") and amazing cinematography, which combined with the direction can produce many stunning moments. My favorite is the scene where Jeff first goes to Whit's residence. He is actually outside the gate entrance, yet with the way shadows and lighting are used, it seems he could be standing inside. Another example is during the opening credits, when those of Producer Warren Duff and Director Jacques Tourneur are framed as though they are sitting next to the driver of a car.
The film has two other trademarks of film noirs. First the flashback. Here Jeff, who is now a gas station owner, tells his current girlfriend Anne about a business deal he made a few years back with Whit Sterling. Sterling was looking for his wife Kathie, who had recently tried to kill him and stole from him $40,000. Whit wants her back, yet says he doesn't want the money. He is obviously lying. He wants to see if he can use her, though he never states so. He also, as Jeff learned, knows that the forty grand is nothing compared with her. Jeff finds the girl in Mexico and trouble begins.
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