The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past (1947) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past (1947)

The most definitive noir this side of 'Double Indemnity'

Humphrey Bogart acted like he didn’t give a damn when we knew he really did, which was his appeal. But Robert Mitchum really didn’t give a damn, which was his appeal. Therefore it’s all the greater a testament to the allure of Jane Greer that the Man Who Doesn’t Give a Damn is at once dumb enough to throw everything away for her and smart enough to know he’s doing it. So elegantly and bewitchingly matter-of-fact in her evil, Greer (22 at the time) embodies the first law of femme fatalism: She lies about every single thing she does, but never about who she is. 

Though director Jacques Tourneur’s specialty was superb, expressionistic horror pictures like Cat People, The Leopard Man, and I Walked With a Zombie, Out of the Past is the most definitive noir this side of Double Indemnity. Stylistically it has a lot to answer for to the Surgeon General, as the movie that made the wafting smoke of a thousand cigarettes part of the genre’s visual vocabulary once and for all; nobody, not even Bogart (who wanted the role before his studio said no), lit up like Mitchum. No movie better expressed one of noir’s great themes—you can’t escape your past—and nothing proves the film’s stature more than that half the time it makes no sense whatsoever and it never matters. Even through the smoke, Mitchum can see his future down to the last bullet hole.

Read them all:   
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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