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A Movie A Day: Quint comes OUT OF THE PAST (1947)
It was the bottom of the barrel, and I was scraping it.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Kirk Douglas bridges us from yesteryday’s CAST A GIANT SHADOW to today’s classic noir OUT OF THE PAST starring the lazy-eyed Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Rhonda Flemming and Mr. Douglas. Now this is a film that lives up to its reputation. Basically you have a small town man putting moves on the local sweety. A romance is brewing until one day a guy in a three-piece suit and a fedora shows up, recognizing this lowly gas station owner, played by Robert Mitchum. Turns out Mitchum has a dirty secret and he leaves his idyllic little community in order to set things right. What’s surprising to me about this film is that Mitchum isn’t a hard-boiled killer or even that much of a hardass. When he gets into fist fights he gets his ass beat a fair amount and I like that. I can’t say I have much experience in fisticuffs, but I’m pretty sure that most of the time it ain’t like in the movies where one dude takes some punches, but kicks him some ass like nothing happened. So, I like the added realism here.

And Mitchum goes out of his way to not kill anybody, which I didn’t expect. Even more surprising is they don’t really make a big deal out of it either. It’s not his Batman-like personal code that is explained to us, just a little something going on in the background. We come to find out that he was hired by a real bastard of a guy (Kirk Douglas) to find his wife… who shot him and ran off with $40,000. He finds her in Mexico and finds out it’s Jane Greer. Naturally, he falls in love with her (don’t blame him) and they run off together. Greer is the epitome of a femme fatale. She uses her feminine charms to manipulate all those around her and can make any man fall in love with her. The way director Jacques Tourneur shoots her and the way screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring structures her character you actually don’t think she’s a bad apple in the beginning, either, so you’re not forced to think ill of the lead. “I can see she’s bad news? Why can’t he?” Plus, like I said… Jane Greer is hot. You don’t want to believe she’ll be a cruel and cold bitch. There’s a very young Judy Garland quality to her… maybe it’s the dark eyes. Anyway, Douglas is fantastic as the heavy. He’s very young here, but still a man and a threat. In another great move, Douglas is also very likable as the character (Whit Sterling) and you can tell that it’s not all just a façade to fool people into thinking he’s a nice guy. The impression I got was that he’s very tough underneath and he is a bad man, but he doesn’t want to be. He wants to be liked, but also won’t stand for any disrespect. Final Thoughts: This is a very strong film with great black and white cinematography thanks to Nicholas Musaraca, great direction from Tourneur and a fantastic cast working on all cylinders. It’s both a prime example of noir storytelling while also throwing some twists in the presentation. Like with any great noir as the film gets going the characters become more and more desperate, but it’s like a quicksand. The more they try to get out, the deeper and quicker they sink.

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Thursday, July 24th: THE BIG STEAL (1949) Friday, July 25th: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950) Saturday, July 26th: CROSSFIRE (1947) Sunday, July 27th: RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973) Monday, July 28th: IN HARM’S WAY (1965) Tuesday, July 29th: FIRECREEK (1968) Wednesday, July 30th: THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970) Tomorrow we follow Mitchum and Jane Greer over to Don Siegel’s THE BIG STEAL, shot 2 years later and, I assume, trying to capitalize on the success of their pairing in this film. See you folks then. -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast A Giant Shadow

Readers Talkback
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  • July 23, 2008, 6:02 p.m. CST


    by coen_fan

    Out of the Past rules.

  • July 23, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by Preditor74


  • July 23, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by Preditor74


  • July 23, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by Preditor74


  • July 23, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST


    by Preditor74


  • July 23, 2008, 6:06 p.m. CST

    wow this noir was great huh guys

    by Prossor

    sure was. ...... im guessing we will talk the hell out of every twobit bumfuck noir out there, probably more than the filmmakers themselves even cared to.

  • July 23, 2008, 6:07 p.m. CST


    by Preditor74

    COuld it be?

  • July 23, 2008, 6:13 p.m. CST


    by Flint420

    One of Mitchum's best movies. Although every time I think of him I see him kicking the shit out of that cat at the end of scrooge

  • July 23, 2008, 6:23 p.m. CST


    by SkeletonParty


  • July 23, 2008, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Love this movie

    by Gwai Lo

    I seem to recall there being a lot of daylight for a noir film. I should watch it again. And to the people in the talkbacks every day complaining that Quint is writing this feature - what is your problem?

  • July 23, 2008, 6:35 p.m. CST

    This has been on my list of film to see.

    by rbatty024

    A word on violence in noir films. Many film critics have noticed the same thing Quint noticed in Out of the Past. Noir violence is usually one sided. Unlike earlier Westerns, where the characters will punch back and forth for a while before one adversary takes advantage of the other, in noir one character will dominate the fight, often by fighting dirty. It was a more realistic view of violence for the time.

  • July 23, 2008, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Also, this is one of AICN's best features.

    by rbatty024

    Unsung films from the past. It's pretty cool when Quint finds a diamond in the rough.

  • July 23, 2008, 6:40 p.m. CST

    Great film

    by JuanSanchez

    Right up there with the Big Sleep and The Killing.

  • July 23, 2008, 7:07 p.m. CST

    have you seen...?

    by dingleberryjerry

  • July 23, 2008, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Against all Odds?

    by dingleberryjerry

    Against all Odds (1984)is a fairly good remake of this. Have you had a chance to check it out?

  • July 23, 2008, 7:15 p.m. CST

    I've seen a fair share of fights

    by TerryMalloy

    And they usually go one of three ways. <p> Somebody gets suckerpunched and it's LIGHTS OUT. End of fight. This can be quite brutal and dare I say, spectacular. <p> Alternatively, it can go to the floor very quickly and end in a very "masculine" rolling contest where each combatant hopes somebody steps in and breaks it up. This of course is very lame. <p> Finally, somebody gets suckerpunched or tackled, and the guy on top punches his mounted bitch repeatedly in the face. This is just bloody and sick and if you have any human compassion at all you will attempt to break it up.

  • July 23, 2008, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Quint, its kinda weird your choice of movies....

    by The Dum Guy

    About a third of them are ones I've only seen for the first time in the past few months.<br><br>Except Meatballs, I saw that for the first time a year or so ago and found it not so funny.<br><br>I really did like Kirk Douglas in this one though, and the deaf guy that kills by being a fisher of men but not in the way Jesus intended.

  • July 23, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Vol 1

    by MediaNerd

    I really need to pick up that Film Noir collection vol 1. This sounds quite choice, gotta love a strong femme fatale character.<br><br> Quint were you a heavy noir watcher prior to this or are you just now really experiencing the genre?

  • July 23, 2008, 8:06 p.m. CST

    One of the definitive noir pictures

    by kungfuhustler84

    Happy you finally saw it Quint. So what do you prefer? This or Double Indemnity?

  • July 23, 2008, 8:09 p.m. CST

    and Jett

    by kungfuhustler84

    you are the only one. So shut up and read something else. This is an article for guys like Quint and pretty much everybody else who goes on AICN who love movies and want to expand their understanding of the world of cinema. So far it's working beautifully. Because of this feature I have discovered some forgotten classics and found inspiration to revisit some old gems. It's a great feature.

  • July 23, 2008, 8:12 p.m. CST

    adaptation of 'Build My Gallows High'

    by hyeguy

    This awesome film is an adaptation of a great book by Geoffrey Homes. It's a quick read, taking no more than 6 hours of serious reading time. He wrote the screenplay as well, under a pseudonym of course. Don't worry Quint I don't think less of you for that mistake. This is an amazing article series you've started. You've filled up my rental queue quite quick. (3 q's, that doesn't happen often) I love reading about films I know about and seeing how you re-ignite the passion for these films. Please keep this up Quint. I'm 24 y.o, there's no reason for my generation to grow up not knowing about these films.

  • July 23, 2008, 8:13 p.m. CST

    Quint, can you review AND assess

    by Durant

    I know AICN doesn't seem to ever do this - why not? Some of these I haven't see either - is there a reason that when you review movies you don't baseline your assessment against some kind of scale? For example, binary scale (thumbs up/thumbs down), 1 - 10 rating, 1 - 5 turkeys, pictures of a guy sleeping vs smiling vs standing and clapping, a middle finger or a dozen roses... whatever, just something to tell me of the ones you liked that I haven't seen, which one, comparatively (that's they key), should I look for first? <p> Is this against AICN dogma and I just don't know it? I'd think you'd want to do this, to establish your trademark or something, like Quint gives this movie a life-threatening sharkbite on the leg or something unique, slightly odd, but identifiable as yours...??

  • July 23, 2008, 8:38 p.m. CST

    The Words, Quint...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... the words... That's what I love most about OUT OF THE PAST, one of my very favorite films in any genre. That dialogue is a feast, and everyone rips it up. Douglas and Mitchum trade snappy retorts like fisticuffs, and Jane Greer knows her way around a double-entendre. It's all so richly written. More like music than typical dialogue. It gets better upon repeat viewings, too.

  • July 23, 2008, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Love this movie so much that

    by vicman02

    I bought the great looking one sheet years ago. Wish it was the 1947 original but I guess the 1953 re-release will have to do.

  • July 23, 2008, 9:38 p.m. CST

    "Now this is a film that lives up to its reputation."

    by Neosamurai85

    Couldn't have put it better. Outside of praise for Cat People (which people often give the credit all to Lewton for unfairly... my bet is it's because his name is easier to pronounce) Jacques Tourneur is a really underrated director. Leopard Man is fantastic.

  • July 23, 2008, 9:40 p.m. CST

    "You're like a leaf that the wind blows from one gutter to anoth

    by Twilight Zone Prisoner

    I remember seeing this back in the pre-VHS days and it esconced itself as one of my top five Film Noirs. It was the main reason I bought the first Warners box set - a good bargain as it also included "Murder My Sweet" and "The Asphalt Jungle" - since it was deemed so obscure as to not be repeated often on TV. Tourneur and DP Musuraca (both from "Cat People") craft the prototype Noir: Moody lighting and camera angles, a trench-coated, cigarette-smoking Robert Mitchum trying to escape from his previous life which involves a darkly dressed femme fatale (Jane Greer) and the oily Kirk Douglas (in only his second movie). Mitchum's voice-over lends real weight to the terse but quotable tough-guy lines as he narrates, and like Moriarty mentions above, how about the cool exchanges: Greer: "Oh, Jeff, I don't want to die!", Mitchum: "Neither do I baby, but if I have to I'm gonna die last." Great stuff. <p> BTW: first time poster but long time reader, I joined to echo others' sentiments on how much I look forward to this column. I've seen about two-thirds of the movies listed (mostly the oldest ones) and hope you keep up the good work as long as possible. To that end, I have no complaints but proffer a suggestion to make future life easier: When you feel the need for a rest, how about about handing the reins over for one or two months to Beaks, Moriarty, or even Harry? You'll get your break, others can try their hand at the MAD pace and we in the peanut gallery can be aghast at their own gaps in film history.

  • July 23, 2008, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Anyone catch the reference to this film in De Palma's Femme Fata

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Rebecca Romijn laughing whole the shadows of Banderas and the bar creep are cast on the wall behind her...

  • July 24, 2008, 12:09 a.m. CST

    HOt damn

    by Lukecash

    I need to join Netflix. There are films I want to see but not want to see, but not really own. Quint has done a masterful job with these reviews. He's brutal and honest...and if something doesn't work, he'll tell you. <p>I've always had a soft heart for the "golden age" of movie making...the wordplay has always been excellent. I wonder if there were people who actually talked like that. Ah, to have a time machine just to observe.

  • July 24, 2008, 2:14 a.m. CST

    then build my gallows high, baby

    by welbrick

    "she can't be all bad. no one is." "well, she comes the closest." this movie is as quotable as 'lebowski.'

  • July 24, 2008, 2:16 a.m. CST

    "i wish he was dead."

    by welbrick

    "give him time."

  • July 24, 2008, 2:17 a.m. CST

    one more

    by welbrick

    "joe couldn't find a prayer in the bible."

  • July 24, 2008, 7:26 a.m. CST

    One of my favorite lines in film is in this.

    by Sailor Rip

    Mitchum, If I remember works in a service station with some kid for a helper. Some guy says to him... <p> Guy says "Funny finding you in a place like this." Mitchum say,s real sarcastically "Yeah me and the kid are laughing all the time."

  • July 24, 2008, 7:53 a.m. CST

    I'll be watching this one tonight.

    by Knuckleduster

    Truly great noir is hard to find. This seems like a definite contender. Love Robert Mitchum.

  • July 24, 2008, 8:06 a.m. CST


    by Knuckleduster

    Personally, I'm against any kind of scale system. Not a big fan of giving a movie a mark out of ten or whatever. It feels forced and unnecessary. There's also the danger that we'd end up with talkbackers arguing over the reviewer's rating of the film ("4 out of 10? Fuck you. I give it a 7.5, etc.") instead of actually discussing the film itself. That's just me, though.

  • July 24, 2008, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Jane Greer was so HOT...

    by LaneMyersClassic

    Great movie, too.

  • July 24, 2008, 9:51 a.m. CST

    if you DON'T think this is the best feature on AICN...

    by duanejones're a retard and are spending to much time away from your predator figurines. go join them. njow. they call you. fly, fanboy, fly!!! <p>and, actually, quint, this has the potential for being the best thing on AICN, realized best with under-duscussed classics like this, and less so for things like, um, _meatballs_. i realize the controversy i'll unleash by saying this, but i'd say the tourneur is a better film. btw, isn't this the film that was in production when mitchum got picked up on pot charges? those heavy lids never went away, not for another 50-odd years...

  • July 24, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Isn't this movie where

    by Bloodstained

    the image of the private eye in a trenchcoat and fedora came from?

  • July 24, 2008, 2:43 p.m. CST


    by Durant

    Good point potentially degenerating into simple ratings argument instead of discussion, and 1 - 10 scale is not creative enough, agreed. I think there's opportunity for AICN to come up something creative and fun, though. Rotten Tomatoes has their % fresh rating, couldn't AICN do something that could be an equivalent brand-recognized, true to the spirit of the site endorsement? <p> Something like: Mint, Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor... but not the word, instead generic comic book covers visualized in those conditions...?? <p> As long as very few get rated Mint or Near Mint, it would be a real differentiation of a classic, and you could have fun baselining it with a glossary of movies explaining what movie goes with what condition...

  • July 24, 2008, 5:02 p.m. CST


    by Knuckleduster

    As long as Gremlins 2 gets rated Mint.

  • July 25, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST

    All odds song goes well with the original

    by Fourthwall

    Video cut with the Phil Collins song from the remake set to the original.

  • July 25, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Very simple Jett

    by Skyway Moaters

    If you're bored with it, DON'T READ IT YOU MORON! What, is someone holding a gun to your head? "Read Quint's movie a day or I'll blow your brains out"? What a tool.