I’d published a commentary on Jacques Tourneur’s “foolproof and beautiful” OUT OF THE PAST (1947) a couple of years ago in which I gushed about the look of the movie, one of the most beautifully photographed I’d ever seen. Well, that goes by the wayside now that the Warner Archive Collection has released a new restoration of the film on bluray. While I’d anticipated this was a must-see in the new format, I’d never imagined the picture quality could be so greatly enhanced.
You all know I can’t comment on the technical specs when it comes to restorations, but as a movie lover with eyes and decent taste take my word for it – this Warner Archive release on 1080p is absolutely stunning. The composition of the shots and Nicholas Musuraca’s inspired cinematography are paid their due and then some, enhancing one of the best crime melodramas ever made.
OUT OF THE PAST stars Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas (in his second film role) and depicts a story replete with crooked characters, double-crosses and some of the best dialogue ever written. And close-ups! An endless array of gorgeous half-faces in shadows – no one’s all
good or all bad – with particular attention in that regard paid to Jane Greer’s character emphasizing her soft side so that we understand how Bailey falls for her despite her conniving ways. Here, we are reminded of that beautifully and consistently. Oh yes, there is romance in there as well – a noir requisite.
Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey who’d started a new life in a small town trying to get himself out of the past. Again, the differences in the two worlds never before so richly illustrated – the one Bailey has “escaped” to and the one he’s trying to get away from established expertly by Tourneur and photographed by Musuraca. Jane Greer plays Kathie Moffat, the woman from the past, the femme fatale who Bailey goes after and falls for. Moffat is one of, if not the greatest of femme fatales, in my book, a part written so that she keeps everyone
guessing as to what her role is in the dark happenings in the story.
Jeff Bailey is hired by tough guy, Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to bring Kathie back to him after she’d run off to hide in Mexico. Whit owns her. She owes him. A dangerous, complicated, engaging plot unfolds in this movie that continues to creeps higher and higher on my list of all-time favorites each time I see it.
If you’ve seen OUT OF THE PAST, but have yet to take a look at this latest release, you are in for a real treat. In fact, it may well seem you’ve never seen it before. The blacks have never been more pronounced, the grays to whites never illustrated with such richness and the cigarette smoke as mood enhancer is perfection. The movie looks gorgeous. So much so that I don’t even mind the lack of special features on the disc, which includes only a commentary by film historian, James Ursini.
In time you may well feel “awfully cold around the heart” if you don’t get your hands on this bluray. The best release news I’d heard all year didn’t disappoint.
A shout out of thanks to Marie Remelius who handles publicity for Warner Archive for sending me a review copy of the OUT OF THE PAST bluray.