Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Out Of The Past (1947)

 You can try to leave the past behind, but then it creeps up behind you when you least expect it. This certain trouble comes in the  form of “where’s Bailey”? as a man steps out of the car to ask a young boy changing a car tyre. With sheer arrogance he notes that the boy is “deaf and dumb eh” but indeed he is certainly smart enough to read lips.

The stranger heads over to Marney’s Cafe and sits at the counter, listening to a conversation between Marney and a gentleman about Jeff Bailey “going fishing every day with his girlfriend” .  He orders just coffee with cream whilst his appetite has “often wondered what happened to him..and one day i’m breezin ‘ through here and there’s his name up on a sign. ” It’s either a small world or in this case, a rather big sign.

Meanwhile Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is seen to be romancing beside a lake with Ann Miller ( Virginia Huston) gazing at the sky, “they say the day you die, your name Is written on a cloud”. Jeff doesn’t seem to remember ‘they’, according to him he’s never heard of them. As they huddle under a tree, she tells him that the sky reminds her of all the places she’s never been, dually noting to Jeff that “you’ve been to many places haven’t you? “. “One too many”. 

The mysterious Jeff Bailey who the town love to gossip about and one who hardly strikes a reputable personality with the locals. The dreamers are soon interrupted by the mute Jimmy who signs that he must return to a stranger that just wants to see him.

At the gas station, Jeff finds the stranger standing before him. With a heavy heart he realises it’s Joe Stephanos, ( Paul Valentine) a crime -ridden investigator from his checkered past come to say “everyone sure missed you Jeff”, though not as much as Jeff would like to remember. Jeff’s former ex boss -Whit Sterling, made sure he was tracked down and decided to surprise him down memory lane. Word has it, the guy wants a meet up in Lake Tahoe. Who knows..maybe he’s got something nice for him.

In the hours of the night, Jeff hestitantly waits at the front gate of Ann’s house because he has a funny feeling her parents don’t take kindly to a man they know so little about. Too little in fact. As Ann hurries out the door like school was out,  her mother makes her thoughts about Jeff  loud and clear. He takes her on a road trip where he wants to tell her something, since he’d have to tell her sometime.  “Now the first thing i wanna get off my name isn’t Bailey. It’s Markham. Jeff Markham.

Flashback to about three years ago. “Wintertime, one of the coldest i remember in the town”. A group of men in a room that  spoke high volumes of  awkward shame amongest the cigarettes and drinks. Jeff worked with an oily gent named Jack Fisher. 

They were called to see a gambler who’s dame had taken four shots at him with his own. ” It amazes me how she missed so often”.  A somewhat kingpin operator by the name of Whit Sterling. ( Kirk Douglas). For a guy who was almost cold turkey, sure is a fella with alot of heart. She shot at him and ran off with $40,000, but the guy just wants her back. Why you ask? ” when you see her, you’ll understand”. Now Jeff had to go see about a dame by the names of Kathie Mofatt. (Jane Greer).

After playing catch up on some information on Kathie from a local mistress who worked for her, Jeffs detective senses came out to play. Sharper than a lemon shot in your tequila, he pieced together that ” you don’t get vaccinated for Florida, but you do for i followed her excess baggage to Mexico city.”

It was hot in Acapulco but Jeff was going to find out just how hot it could get. He followed her trail and waited at a little cafe called La Mar Azul. ” i sat there in the afternoons and drank beer”. All he had betweeen his half awake conscious and a beer between his hands, was the music from the movie theatre to keep him awake, “and then i saw her coming out of the sun..and i knew why Whit didn’t care about the $40,000 grand”.

You know..if you brought me a drink, I might have stayed..

A knockout in the shape of a white dress and a matching hat had walked in the place to kickstart his heart and he felt more alive than the heat could handle. His eyes were memesmired by the mysterious woman who was so impulsive in her actions, yet she was looking as innocently sweet as ever, as she sat herself down on that chair. Jeff had to make himself known. With pleasure senor.

From that day foward, Jeff got busy trying to get to know a pretty lady who seemed to play hard to get, and he was the seemingly ‘good guy gone rogue’. He figured Whit could wait a little longer. 

 Jeff would sit there and drink away the lonely summer nights at Pablo’s because he remembered she had said she sometimes goes there. “I know where I was and what I was doing. I just thought what a sucker I was”. Playing risky buisness with his heart, Jeff falls for Kathie who’s a dangerous flame for any man. 

A masterpiece of a movie also known as Build My Gallows High here in the U.K,  that captivates you from the very beginning. All the characters can be much loved  for being so good at being bad and it’s a classic noir movie that delves in my favourite kind of ‘whodunit’. Full of surprises and full of mysteries, it’s as cold as ice to be sipped in your burbon. 

They live a short uncertain life of happiness, but the plot thickens when things become much clearer in nature that unravels in “you dirty, double -crossing rat!”, betrayal and even murder that only a beautiful femme fatale could dress for, played by the charming Jane Greer. 

Forgetting to make that phonecall to Whit Sterling isn’t ideal because you just don’t quit and make him the fall guy, which catches  up to Jeff as a bigger problem than he could anticipate, and running away isn’t going to cut any loose ends of the past with a woman trying to escape her future. There’s always a rope that burns much slower.

Directed by : Jacques Tourneur, Based on the novel Build My Gallows High (1946) by Daniel Mainwaring

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Virginia Huston, Paul Valentine and others

Music by : Roy Webb             




A Mademoiselle living in the U.K Born in the late 80's with a vintage heart. My blog is made up of my thoughts; be it through the eyes of a great movie, the chapters of a book or in the hands of a game and other ideas that set my mind apart.. here on an open platform to share with the rest of the world. Won't you join me..

23 thoughts on “Out Of The Past (1947)

  1. Looks like a wonderfully crafted film, with more than a few brilliant lines. And your review is of course, just as well-written. This is on my to-watch list for sure! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very kind to say so Pete. And yes you’re quite right..the u.k movie , as I also know it is ‘Build my Gallows High’, as the novel goes by too, but this title seemed to be more popularised, and the ending of my written line seemed fitting . However it would also seem fair to give the originality the fair justice it deserves, so I shall edit and also put the British title beside it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Your knowledge of movies never seizes to amaze me, nor does your skill in writing. It’s a shame that a lot of these films are very hard to find here in my country, but it’s great to read up on them on your blog. I love film noir movies a lot as well, and this one sounds really great. And with you calling it a masterpiece that is very high praise indeed. I hope I can find this one some day, because it really seems like a wonderful movie. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Michel for liking my writing again. Indeed it’s always unfortunate when such wonderful classics get shelved off into the dust, because they deserve be well recognised but popularity seems to win these days. I had brought this movie along with the other two noir movies I had reviewed so itmwas a joy to re watch them, but it can be difficult to seek out the ones I have missed. Every movie I’ve ever reviewed on my site, I’d say was a masterpiece in its own way too, either that or I’m very fond of them so you can be assured, I’d recommend them all to you. I hope you get to watch it someday soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really is very hard to find classic movies on dvd. Which is a real shame, as some of them are absolute masterpieces that are still incredible to watch after all these years. But as I said I’m glad you are writing about them,as in this way I get to experience them at least a little bit ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. This was a great Film Noir movie which I first saw on TCM about a year or two ago.
    I remember my dad once telling me that he had once met actor Robert Mitchum at a lake in Alberta’s Jasper National Park where he said the star was shooting a film.
    And he said one couldn’t have met a nicer guy than Robert Mitchum saying he was very down to Earth. He thought most Hollywood stars would be arrogant in person but he said Mitchum wasn’t.
    I always wondered if my dad knew the name of the film Mitchum was shooting but I never bothered to ask him.
    My dad then died in June 2010 so I guess it was a bit too late to ask him then.
    But I remember when I was watching Out of the Past- the lake scene with Mitchum and Virginia Houston, I said to myself, “That lake looks very very much like a lake I once visited in Jasper National Park.”
    Minutes after saying that, the thought suddenly hit me, “Was this the lake where my dad met Mitchum?”.
    Had they chosen for the lake scene- a lake in Alberta- and then in the movie claimed it was a lake in California?.
    I don’t know.
    Most of the movie judging by the scenery was shot in Southern California which my dad and I visited twice so I recognized some of the locales.
    But the lake in the film looked exactly like this lake in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada so I always wondered whether it was shot there and this was the lake and the film where my dad met Mitchum.
    I very much love your review and your reviewing style.
    Your review is written very much in the vein of the Film Noir style itself as can be seen by that splendid line you penned,
    Full of surprises and full of mysteries, itโ€™s as cold as ice to be sipped in your burbon.
    So Jacques Tourneur directed this film eh?
    TCM host Robert Osbourne probably mentioned it but I mustn’t have been paying attention at the time.
    I always loved Tourneur’s 1942 movie The Cat People.
    Have you ever seen it?
    The suspense in the film still holds up as supremely suspenseful today and the swimming pool scene in the film I think would still send shivers down the spine of most movie viewers today.
    A great review, Sonea. ๐Ÿ™‚
    And a great film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to hear he had met such a charismatic man who was polite to your father, and I’m so very sorry to hear of his passing. (May he be at peace). The fact you then visited the very same lake must have felt very nostalgic for you. It very well could have been the same , ocation if you recognise it. Movies do tend to ‘switch’ places for convenience at times. I feel like noir is written into my blood at times heh I never notice until I have finished, it’s lines that seem to just happen in my mind, I’m no good at being an ‘professional’ reviewer out there, but I highly appreciate that you picked up on it. It means alot that you like my writing.

      You know, I never managed to watch Cat People, so it’s high time I changed that. I shall be sitting by my fireplace and viewing it sometime soon. (That is if one were to have one, hm.. my couch will have to suffice). Thank you once again Christopher for such a warming message. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The noiriest noir? Give Robert Mitchum a raincoat and a cigarette, and he could turn the lyrics to “Here we go Round the Mulberry bush” into hard boiled dialogue. Give Tourneur a title and a movie camera, and he could make poetry. The final scene is akin to a punch to the solar plexus.

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    1. I very much agree Paul and nicely put ๐Ÿ™‚ The dialogue like in Double Indemnity, is so compelling and Mitchum really drives the epitome of noir to a great level in his role. The outfit does it justice. I really admired Jane Greer in her femme fatale role too.

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      1. Out of the Past is a fantastic film. I first watched it as part of a film noir box set I had that included Murder, My Sweet, Gun Crazy, The Asphalt Jungle, and The Set-Up? Sadly I lost the discs during a house move, so itโ€™s lucky it has popped up on British television several times recently.
        Iโ€™ve really enjoyed your recent noir themed posts. Will there be more in the future?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh dear, that’s so unfortunate, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you can recover it someway or repurchase. They are such great choices to be had. I always seem to miss them on television, but I have seen Film4 play a few at times. I’m happy and grateful to hear you like these posts Paul. It does mean alot as it does require some time. I hope to continue it for the present time. There might be some other non related noir posts in between but for the given moment, I shall be trying my best to carry on the mystery in my best femme fatale manner, a woman can bring.


    1. Hi Pete. Firstly, thank you for caring. It means alot more than I can type. Your message was well and kindly recieved. Here’s mine along the electrical lines..I have gotten very ill, a turn for the worse which I didn’t expect so my writing journey had to be put on hold which has been upsetting at the least. I have only just gotten back to WordPress today after such a long time that I almost feel reborn. ( perhaps that makes more sense inside my mind heh). I am still very unwell but trying to use all the willpower i posess to try and write again. Thank you for the kind comment once again.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. So sorry to hear that sad news. I can only send virtual good thoughts, and hugs, and hope that you improve soon. Looking forward to seeing you back on blogging form soon.
        Best wishes from Norfolk, Pete. x

        Liked by 1 person

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