Out Of The Past review

Made in 1947, this quintessential film noir twists and turns its dark way through a typically Byzantine plot. Narrated primarily in flashbacks by the doomed hero, it's the tale of a private eye named Bailey (Robert Mitchum), who's hired by gangster Kirk Douglas to find his missus (Jane Greer), who's run off with $40,000 of Mob cash. Trailing her to Mexico, Bailey falls for this femme fatale, and is sucked into an ever more complex web of blackmail and double-crossings.

There's much to relish here: a script which mixes pungent humour and tension, the pervading atmosphere of corruption and obsession, and a perfectly judged, tragically stoical performance from the sleepy-eyed Mitchum, not to forget Nicholas Musuraca's suitably shadowy cinematography. And, rest assured, director Jacques Tourneur throws in a real downbeat ending. Fifty-one years on and Out Of The Past is still a powerful and compelling movie; it receives a welcome, if limited, airing at the BFI.

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