Out of the Past (1947)
Description: Out of the Past is so perfect a film noir that it is considered practically a textbook example of the genre. In his first starring role (it had previously been offered to John Garfield and Dick Powell), Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, the friendly but secretive proprietor of a mountain-village gas station. As Jeff's worshipful deaf-mute attendant (Dick Moore) looks on in curious fascination, an unsavory character named Joe (Paul Valentine) pulls up to the station, obviously looking for the owner. Jeff is all too aware of Joe's identity; he's been dreading this moment for quite some time, knowing full well that it will mean the end of his semi-idyllic existence, not to mention his engagement to local girl Ann (Virginia Huston). In a lengthy flashback, the audience is apprised of the reasons behind Jeff's discomfort. Several years earlier, he'd been a private detective, hired by gangster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to find his mistress Kathie Moffett (Jane Greer), who shot him and ran off with $40,000. Jeff traces Kathie to Mexico, but when he meets her he falls in love and willingly becomes involved in an increasingly complicated web of double-crosses, blackmail, and murder. The flashback over, Jeff agrees to meet Whit face to face in Lake Tahoe. Surprisingly, Whit apparently bears no malice, and even offers Jeff an opportunity to square himself by retrieving Whit's tax records from mob attorney Eels (Ken Niles). Even more surprisingly, Kathie has returned to Whit on her own volition. When Jeff is taken to Eels' apartment by the beautiful Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming), he quickly figures out that he has been set up and tries to clue Eels into the plot, but Eels is later found murdered, and Jeff is accused of the crime. Worse yet, Whit has forced Kathie to sign an affadavit that also pins another murder on him. Crosses, double-crosses and triple-crosses abound for the next few reels, culminating in disaster for the oh-so-clever Whit, who has fatally underestimated the deceitful (and icewater-veined) Kathie. And in the end, it is Jeff who must resort to drastic measures to force Kathie to pay the price for her cold-hearted treachery. Out of the Past was remade in 1984 as Against All Odds, with Jane Greer cast as the mother of her original character.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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