Out of the Past

Below you will find written and video materials to supplement your experience with this film. Be aware that some essays and video essays may contain spoilers.

Critical Essays

Out of the Past (RogerEbert.com)

‘Out of the Past’: The Quintessential Film Noir (Cinephilia & Beyond)

Out of the Past: Film Notes (NYS Writers Institute)

Film Noir and The American Tradition (Tufts)

Home of the weak: Out of the Past and four ways of framing film noir (BFI)

Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past (BAMF Style)

Contextual Reading

What Is Film Noir? Genre & Best Movies Explained

The Dark Beauty of Film Noir in 50 Perfect Shots

Notebook Primer: Film Noir

What is the Hays Code — Hollywood Production Code Explained

Jacques Tourneur on Val Lewton and Cinematic Escapism


Out of the Past

Our next film is Out of the Past (1947), directed by Jacques Tourneur.

Happy Noirvember! This month we will explore noir and neo-noir, starting with a film widely considered to be quintessential to the genre.

Out of the Past features strong examples of noir motifs: shadows, smoke, deadpan dialogue, double-crosses, and of course, the femme fatale. The film was adapted for the silver screen by Daniel Mainwaring, who also authored the source novel, then rewritten by B-movie writer Frank Fenton. It was produced at RKO by the legendary Val Lewton unit on a relatively large budget.

Director Tourneur (Cat PeopleI Walked with a Zombie) crafts a moody, suspenseful atmosphere while lead Robert Mitchum performs the perfect hard-boiled anti-hero. Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas also give breakout performances. Out of the Past is a multi-layered, affecting noir known for its snappy dialogue and brooding sense of fate.

Out of the Past will be screened LIVE via Zoom on November 10th at 8:00pm EDT. All club members will receive a zoom link on the day of the screening. Also be sure to check out our resources page for additional essays and videos.