Home1-2526-5051-100101-50151-200201-250251-300
-
OUT OF THE PAST
1947 - Jacques Tourneur
United States
38
Opening Shot

Over the opening title cards of Out of the Past we see some beautiful rurual landscapes followed by a point of view shot from behind a car driving towards a gas station. The car pulls into the station, honks the horn at a young boy looking away fixing a tire. A man gets out of the car and his visual presence (dressed in a dark trench coat smoking a cigarette) is quite a contrast to the films small town setting and athmosphere (bright lightning, dreamy musical score)...

The Film

Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past is a wonderful display of brilliant dialogue, intriguing noir style, and finely crafted filmmaking. Though Out of the Past, lacks the visual expressionism of noir, it deeply represents much of the genres themes and style. Light (or a hopeful future) is greatly contrasted by the darkness of Jeff Bailey's past, which begins to pull him back. It's a film full of double-crossing and cold human souls. The performances are outstanding. The great Robert Mitchum gives one of his best performances as both a lover and as a tough guy. Jane Greer gives a truly chilling and memorable performance as the femme fatale. Perhaps the films greatest asset is it's sharp dialogue and flawless direction and vivid camera movement. Every line is clever, and each and every frame is perfectly composed, resulting in a deeply absorbing film from the opening shots in the car, through the bittersweet ending. Out of the Past is a classic film noir examination of morality, the dark secrets of the past and the bright hopes of a future. An absolute must see for noir fans!

The Filmmaker

Jacques Tourneur was born in France. His father, well respected filmmaker Maurice Tourneaur, moved to Hollywood to make films in 1914. Growing up Jacques would work with his father on his films. In 1927, his father returned to France after a dispute with MGM bosses over artistic control. After making a couple films in France, Jacques Tourneur would return to Hollywood in 1935 and ultimately make some of the very best genre films of the era. The big turning point came in while working as a second unit director on A Tale of Two Cities. It is here he met the great auteur producer Val Lewton. In 1942 Lewton was hired as the head Producer of RKO Pictures new horror department which gave him complete freedom on a series of B-productions. Lewton hired Tourneur as the director of the 1942 film Cat People. The film is flawed, yet it stands as an absolute masterpiece of technique and artistic achievement. It's a film that proves budget and limitation can very often heighten the artistic imagination of the film. Tourneur would make two more films with cult-producer Lawton (who later split the collaboration and began producing A-budget films) and over time they rate among the most memorable of their kind (this includes The Seventh Victim and The Leopard Man). However even after their split, Tourneur would go on to make great films, including his greatest masterpiece 1947's Out of the Past which stands as one of the greatest noirs ever made. Tourneur's films are best known for atmosphere and feeling. He is a master of stylistic compositions mostly with shadows and lighting. Also, through sounds Tourneur is able to capture a sense of what you can not see. This is perhaps Tourneur's greatest ability, to capture an emotion (or even a confusion) as to what the viewer is seeing through his use of camera movment, lighting, shadows and sounds. Perhaps it is this ability that makes his horror films equally stylish, creepy, and artistic.

Images
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Zoom in
Resources
       
-