Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Film Noir Week: Out of the Past

Back again boys and girls and welcome to Day 2 of Film Noir Week.  As it is known to be a grim, bleak and disturbing setting with these films, the stories have a tendency to go that extra mile and impress us all with dastardly villains, femme fatales and stout heroes…but let’s be honest; a lot of you are there for the fights, gunfights and twist endings.  I can relate.   So how about we take a peek at this fine Jacques Torneur film.   This is Out of the Past.

Stop falling in love with me, baby.

How big a spoiler can you get to be? I was finding out.

What is a man made up of? Is it his humble beginnings or is it possibly the chance to start all over again?   This is the story of Jeff Bailey a.k.a. Jeff Markham (Robert Mitchum of Crossfire, Blood on the Moon, El Dorado, Man with the Gun, The Yakuza and The Big Sleep) operating out of a shabby little garage in Bridgeport California and dating a swell gal named Ann (Virginia Huston of Nocturne, Sudden Fear, Tarzan’s Peril and Knock on Wood) when a big muscled goon name of Joe Stephanos tells Jeff him a fella name of Whit Sterling demands to see him.  Jeff agrees reluctantly.  That night Jeff picks up Ann and the two just drive off to Jeff’s meeting and the story gets narrated by Mitchum as we are treated to the rest of the movie in the form of a flashback.   Relax Highlander fans, flashbacks can be your friend too.  

Mustn't fart in front of Douglas..Hold it.

Jeff pins our ears back a spell and gives us the low down about him being a gumshoe with a partner named Fisher (Steve Brodie of The Wild World of Batwoman, Bonanaza, Lassie, Gunsmoke and The Giant Spider Invasion) working for a man named Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas of A Letter to Three Wives, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Spartacus, 2000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Vikings).  What’s the problem you might ask?  A dame with enough beauty to make a preacher kick in a stained glass window, a woman with more slink than a cat; in short his mistress Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer of Dick Tracy, Sunset Pass, Station West, You for Me and The Prisoner of Zenda).  Sterling spins us a yarn about the tomato pulled a roscoe, pumped two bits of lead in him and off with more than 40 large.   This fella says bygones is bygones and just wants her back in his life.  Not Jacks’ cross to bear but a gig is a gig they say.

I have just a few comments and observations about the film at this time.  This story is very tongue in cheek, snappy patter and Mitchum just revels in being a tough guy and yet you can believe what happens to him was inevitable.  Jane Greer’s performance just gets under your skin to one point you could see her talking you into a mass murder spree, convincing you it was your idea in the first place.

Mmm, the Surgeon General never warned me about her.

Back with 35mm Spherical giving a wide scope on the film’s view at a nice, steady pace of 97 minutes this film will keep surprising you.   Based on the novel Build My Gallows High by San Fransico newspaper man Daniel Mainwaring a.k.a. Geoffrey Holmes, this book was adapted by a few name alterations and punching up the third act to follow the spice and danger the book laid out.   Thrills, chills and spills with this one and Mitchum has some damn good lines that will sizzle the ladies’ socks.