Jeff Bailey, small-town gas pumper, has his mysterious past catch up with him one day when he’s ordered to meet with gambler Whit Sterling. En route to the meeting, he tells girlfriend Ann his story. Flashback: Once, Jeff was a private eye hired by Sterling to find his mistress Kathie who shot Whit and absconded with $40,000. He traces her to Acapulco…where the delectable Kathie makes Jeff forget all about Sterling… Back in the present, Whit’s new job for Jeff is clearly a trap, but Jeff’s precautions only leave him more tightly enmeshed. —IMDb
The first director Val Lewton hired for his RKO unit was Jacques Tourneur, and the first picture made by that unit was Cat People, an original screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen.
When Tourneur’s father, Maurice, returned to Paris after a number of years in America, Jacques had gone with him, working as assistant director and editor for his father. In 1933, he made a few directorial solos in the French language and then returned to Hollywood, where he became an assistant director at MGM. It was at this time that he first met Val Lewton, and the two young men worked as special unit directors for Jack Conway on A Tale of Two Cities ; it was Lewton and Tourneur who staged the storming of the Bastille sequence for that film.
Tourneur remained at MGM, directing over 20 short subjects, and Lewton eventually went on to become David O. Selznick’s story editor. When Lewton left Selznick to head his own production unit at RKO, he had already made up his mind that Tourneur would direct his… read more
"I've been putting out the fire, with gasoline" David Bowie's words come to mind. What separates this from the myriad of the other (often remarkable) film noire is Tourneur's cosmic viewpoint, not obsessed with the usual tragic fate lines of the genre, but rather with human consequences and emotions. What are shadows and symbols for some are camera movements and lyricism for Tourneur. A man knowingly plays into his doom, which is in its own way the most utopian, suicidal path of any Tourneur hero. A master at work. All noir pales before it.
The quintessential film noir is a crackling drama with punchy dialogue that hits the heights even though it's difficult to keep up with all the double crosses. Sleepy-eyed Mitchum plays the former private eye hired by Douglas to track down Greer's femme fatale. When the hunter finds his prey it's lust at first sight and he's firmly set on the path to destruction. Easily the best film to feature death by fishing rod..
"I never saw her in the daytime. We seemed to live by night. What was left of the day went away like a pack of cigarettes you smoked. I didn't know where she lived. I never followed her. All I ever had to go on was a place and time to see her again. I don't know what we were waiting for. Maybe we thought the world would end."
Tourneur's patience is what impresses me so. "Out of the Past" isn't jam-packed with snappy dialogue a-la "Big Sleep," its characters aren't overacted clichés and violence is rare and sparingly used. His is a film about the feeling. We watch with curiosity and baited breath, its distance and secrecy (particularly in the opening moments) so effective, its simple story so clearly and simply presented, that when the classic voiceover is implemented, it doesn't need to be the least bit expository. It feels more like a decision made, again, in favor of the dark, haunted, ruminative atmosphere.
Compton Bennett burst upon the British filmmaking scene in 1945 with The Seventh Veil, a weird, sado-masochistically-inflected semi-gothic
The world of Film Noir exists as a kind of alternate reality, a shadow-dream landscape where fate dictates the next move and nothing can be done but to delay the inevitable. It’s antecedents are to… read review
Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past is one of the most highly regarded products of classical film noir, a stylistic/thematic movement generally agreed to have spanned from 1941-58. Furthermore… read review
“Out of the Past” is, quite simply, the quintessential noir. This is the film I would hold up as an answer to the question “what is film noir?”
Everything that defines the classic film noir… read review