Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Out of the Past (1947)

Today's film is Out of the Past (Build My Gallows High).  Before I started this list, I had never watched a film noir.  But now I have seen a few, and some of them are okay.  However, I did not enjoy watching this film.  If this would have been the very first film noir I had ever seen, then I would have never wanted to watch one again.

The main character is Jeff/Bailey/Markum or whatever his name is.  He used to be a private eye but now works at a gas station with his clever deaf friend.  For being at a gas station, they sure do smoke a lot.  Anyway, as expected his past catches up with him and he tells the first part of the story as a flashback.  I think flashbacks are required in film noir.

The bad guy, Whit, is played by Kirk Douglas, and I feel his role was wasted.  He could have done a lot more.  I guess it is believable that the lady, Kathie, wanted to get away from him, but I kept waiting for more to happen.

I didn't like Bailey (I'm just going to go ahead and call him Bailey) because he had no emotions.  He had a typical male lead 'coolness' surrounding him.  It's mostly like a James Dean coolness.  But there's a difference between coolness and not reacting to anything.  When he found the body in the office? No reaction!  When he saw Kathie with the bad guy, Whit, after believing she escaped? No reaction!  His whole demeanor reminds me of I joke I learned in high school:

Helium walks into a bar.  The bartender says, "We don't serve noble gases in here." Helium doesn't react.

Bailey is definitely helium in this movie.  But let's talk about the real bad guy this movie, Kathie.  She is so sketchy.  She is really good at manipulating Bailey.  But maybe she is manipulating everyone else in the movie too.  She had no problem killing Bailey's partner.  She wasn't angry or upset, she just coldly killed him because he would have given her away.  That's it.  Then she had someone else killed just to frame Bailey.  She also kills Whit and convinces Bailey to run off with her.  Bailey agrees because he is gullible and stupid. Also, Kathie is dressed like a nun for some reason.

Why is she dressed like a nun?

Of course, at the end they both die.  This was to be expected.  There were many times I cringed at this movie, especially at the dialogue.  I cannot recommend this movie to anyone. I will have to rate this a 4/10.


  1. I have often asked myself why Kathie is dressed liked a nun. The only answer I've come up with is they had some pretty weird taste in hats in the 40's.

    1. I thought about this all day, and I think the reason Kathie is dressed like a nun is symbolic. When Bailey first sees her, she is wearing all white like an angel. Then, later, when she commits her murders, she is wearing dark clothes to show her dark nature. After she kills Whit, she is wearing the nun outfit, which looks holy but is still dark (like a sheep in wolf's clothing type deal). This is purely speculative though and may be too simplistic.