Essential: OUT OF THE PAST (1947)

This film is described as a moody crime yarn. I think it goes out of its way to be moody to the point of bleakness. Did Mitchum’s character really have to die at the end? Wasn’t it enough that Greer died, so he could return to the more wholesome girl he loved?

Mitchum’s character is given lines near the end he’s bad and deserves Greer. But I didn’t find him to be that bad. Kirk Douglas’ character was no good and is the one who deserved Greer. I did find it interesting that Virginia Huston’s good girl ended up with Richard Webb’s protector he-man, but only by default, not by choice.

Some of the third act felt like it had things edited out. So we had to guess why Mitchum was with Greer at the end and didn’t leave her. The whole set-up is a lousy one. Lousy for Mitchum and lousy for viewers.

He knows going into it that she’s already shot a man (Douglas). So why doesn’t he seem to worry that she’s a real threat to him as well? Is he that dumb? We’re told how smart he is as a detective. But he’s really stupid when it comes to women, especially ones who’ve done criminal things that he’s been hired to track down? I don’t believe it.

Dickie Moore’s deaf mute seemed like a gimmick. How did his impairments serve the plot? Now if the role had been designed to facilitate the hiring of a deaf actor that would be understandable, but Moore was not deaf in real life. He could’ve just as easily played his scenes with dialogue and nothing would’ve really been any different.

Nothing’s dirty or grimy in this film. All the cars are shiny and the streets are perfectly clean, even the streets in Mexico are ultra clean (which were obviously streets on the RKO backlot). The gas station Mitchum runs is spotless. I’ve never been to a gas station in my life that was ever so neatly arranged and tidy. No sight of dropped tools or oil spilt on the ground. Dickie Moore’s clothes are neatly pressed, like they’d just come back from a dry cleaner, hardly any evidence he’d been working on cars or fixing leaky things. I can see why people like this film, because it is still an entertaining piece of hokum. But it lacks realism at almost every turn.