Released – November, 1947
Directed By – Jacques Tourneur
Starring – Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffat), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Steve Brodie (Jack Fisher).
Description – A guy without a fortune! A girl with too much past!
When it comes to your past, you can run, but you can’t hide. Jeff Bailey, a man with a mysterious past, pumps gas at a station in the small town of Bridgeport, California. Jeff is dating local girl Ann Miller and, on the surface, life seems good.
However, not everyone is happy about the relationship. Ann’s parents are suspicious of Jeff as is Jim, the local law officer, who also is interested in Ann.
A man arrives in town looking for Jeff and informs him that gambler Whit Sterling wants to see him. This is where Jeff’s past begins to catch up with him.
A little about Jeff’s past.
While Jeff reluctantly agrees and drives with Ann to the meeting he tells her that he was once a private detective who, along with partner Jack Fisher, were hired by Whit to find Whitt’s girlfriend, Kathie Moffat, who shot Whit and left with $40,000 of his money.
He also tells Ann that his real name is Jeff Markham and that he had tracked Kathie to Acapulco where they started an affair. Together they left Acapulco for San Francisco to try and live a quiet life without Whit ever finding them. It didn’t last long.
However, they are recognized at the racetrack by Jeff’s old partner Fisher, Jeff and Kathie split up with Jeff intending to throw Fisher off their trail. After believing that he has lost Fisher, Jeff heads for a cabin to reunite with Kathie. Upon arriving, Jeff finds Fisher already there.
Fisher demands the money that Kathie stole from Whitt and a fight ensues. During the fight, Kathie shoots and kills Fisher. She then quickly drives off, leaving Jeff to cover up and run from the crime.
Back to the present.
Jeff and Ann now arrive at Whit’s estate and Jeff goes inside. To his surprise, Whit seems happy to see him and to his greater surprise, Kathie is there. She had gotten back together with Whit shortly after leaving Jeff at the scene of Fisher’s murder.
Whit says that he wants to make things right between himself and Jeff. He offers Jeff another job. Whit needs to recover some tax records that are being used to blackmail him and he says Jeff is the man for the job.
There’s a familiar ring of deceit in Whit’s plan. Another murder will soon follow and, for Jeff, the future doesn’t seem too promising.
NOTABLE: In 1991, Out of the Past, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Actor Humphrey Bogart wanted to play the part of Jeff in this film, but Warner Brothers was not interested in the script. RKO was and Robert Mitchum got the role. The lead had been offered to and turned down by both John Garfield and Dick Powell. A great break for Mitchum.
Personal Note: Another of my personal favorite film’s noir. This is classic and masterful noir right from the storyline, the cinematography, a lethal femme fatale, and great dialogue. A web of double-crosses and murder.