Film Notes: Out of the Past (1947) directed by Jacques Tourneur

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USA / 97 minutes /bw / RKO Radio Pictures Dir: Jacques Tourneur Pro: Warren Duff Scr: Geoffrey Homes Story: based on Geoffrey Homes novel Build My Gallows High Cine: Nicholas Musuraca Mus: Roy Webb Cast: Robert Mitchum (Jeff Bailey/Jeff Markham), Jane Greer (Kathie Moffett), Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling), Rhonda Fleming (Meta Carson), Richard Webb (Jim), Steve Brodie (Fisher), Virginia Huston (Ann), Paul Valentine (Joe), Dickie Moore (The Kid), Ken Niles (Eels)

Summary Plot: In the small town of Bridgeport, California, gas station owner Jeff Bailey is tracked down by Joe Stefanos, a former business associate, who tells him that his boss, Whit Sterling, wants to see him the next morning in nearby Lake Tahoe. After he reluctantly agrees to meet with Whit, Jeff reveals to his trusting girl friend, Ann Miller, his recent past: Three years earlier, while working as a private detective in New York, Jeff, whose real name is Markham, and his partner, Jack Fisher, are hired by gambler Whit to find Whit’s girl friend, Kathie Moffat. According to Whit, Kathie shot him and then disappeared with $40,000 of his money. Assured by Whit that Kathie will not be harmed, Jeff locates her in Acapulco and immediately falls in love with her. Deducing Jeff’s mission, Kathie insists that she did not steal Whit’s money but was only trying to flee his romantic tyranny. Jeff and Kathie soon become lovers and are about to leave Acapulco together when Whit and Joe show up at Jeff’s hotel. Jeff tells Whit that he was unable to find Kathie and offers to quit, but the suspicious gambler demands that he continue the search. That night, Jeff and Kathie board a north-bound steamship and begin a happy life together in San Francisco. Eventually, however, Fisher, who was to receive half of the $10,000 that Whit offered for Kathie’s return, tracks the couple to a remote cabin and threatens Jeff. When the two detectives begin to fight, Kathie calmly shoots Fisher dead and leaves Jeff to bury him. (Read full summary at American Film Institute here) Release Date: 13 November 1947

The quintessential classic film noir masterpiece from RKO, a definitive flashback film of melodramatic doom, contains all the elements of the genre. First and foremost, there is an irresistible but deadly, chameleon-like femme fatale (Greer) who is the object of romantic fascination and erotic obsession for both a detective (Mitchum) and a gangster (Douglas). Themes of betrayal, corruption, fatalism and a cynical, perverse, and a morally ambiguous atmosphere are all interwoven and entangled together in a confusing and convoluted dark plot (mixing narrative flashback with linear narrative) with both double- and triple-crosses. Eventually, all three individuals meet their inescapable, tragic ends typical of a Shakespearean-level tragedy. (Read full review at Filmsite Movie Review).

Out of the Past was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring (using the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes) from his novel Build My Gallows High (also written as Homes). Uncredited revisions were made by Frank Fenton and James M. Cain. In 1991, Out of the Past was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In Spanish speaking countries was released as Retorno al pasado.

Notas de cine: Retorno al pasado (1947) dirigida por Jacques Tourneur

Argumento: Jeff Bailey, un antiguo detective, posee una gasolinera en un pequeño pueblo, donde lleva una vida tranquila y sencilla. Sus amores son la pesca y una joven con la que quiere casarse. Inesperadamente, recibe la visita de un viejo conocido que le anuncia que el jefe quiere verlo. Bailey se ve entonces obligado a contarle a su novia su turbio pasado. (Film Affinity)

De una perfección asombrosa, Retorno al pasado no es sólo una de las mejores muestras del cine negro americano, sino también una de las películas más fascinantes de la historia del cine. (Miradas de cine)

Pero además, la película es una obra cumbre del género por su concisa y directa puesta en escena (apoyada en la magnífica fotografía en blanco y negro de Nicholas Musuraca), la excelente interpretación de Robert Mitchum, y unos extraordinarios diálogos llenos de ironía y dobles sentidos. (Cinema Esencial)

Retorno al pasado fue adaptada por Daniel Mainwaring (bajo el seudónimo de Geoffrey Homes) a partir de su novela Build My Gallows High (también escrita con el seudónimo de Homes). Modificanciones no reconocidas fueron hechas por Frank Fenton y James M. Cain. En 1991, Retorno al pasado fue incluida en el Registro Nacional de Cine de los  Estados Unidos por considerarla “cultural, histórica o estéticamente significativa“.

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