Out of the Past
Geoffrey Homes (Novel: Geoffrey Homes)
Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Webb, Steve Brodie, Virginia Huston, Paul Valentine, Dickie Moore, Ken Niles
Buy on DVD
The guilty pleasure of American audiences which the Academy never took fully seriously, film noir is epitomized in Out of the Past about an ex-private investigator hiding out as a gas station operator in order to avoid the wealthy “businessman” whom he failed to finish a job for after falling in love with the woman he was following. Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, the hardened detective who ends up trying to become square with his old employer Whit Stirling (Kirk Douglas) so that perhaps he can spend the rest of his life in quietude with the new woman in his life.
While the film successfully touches on many of the traditions of noir, is a rather involving and carefully plotted thriller, it’s biggest flaw is in the performance department. Mitchum gives a strong central performance, but his character is as hard as he needs to be, but lacking that spark to make him a sympathetic person. He is also surrounded by a cast that largely depends on stereotypes of the genre and fail to connect with the audience. The story is certainly enough to enthrall and entertain and while it works for the most part and delivers a somewhat surprising conclusion, there’s a small portion of the film that lacks the emotional stimulus I would love to see in such a film.
August 30, 2010