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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

'Out of the Past' BD: Robert Mitchum Experiences Deja Vu All Over Again

Out Of The Past (BD)
Warner Archive show its typical good instincts regarding releasing the 1947 black-and-white Robert Mitchum noir film "Out of the Past" on Blu-ray despite this movie not being produced in hi-definition. The excellent use of contrasts that make "Past" and other black-and-white classics (most notably "Citizen Kane") so special looks terrific in the enhanced Blu-ray format. Further, the exceptionally crisp sound that Blu-ray offers really adds to this film.

Archive offers film buffs another treat in having film noir expert James Ursini provide the commentary; although not listened to, these remarks are almost certainly more insightful than the insipid comments that are typical of actor's commentary. Only getting Robert Osborne to do the commentary would have been better.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from "Past" perfectly illustrates the tough-guy talk and the artistic use of shadows that are strong elements of the appeal of this classic.

Mitchum plays a small-town gas station owner who (perhaps inspired by the 1947 classic film "Its a Wonderful Life") now goes by the name Jeff Bailey, who is keeping a low-profile in the wake of running afoul of the gangster who formerly employed him.

The very condensed version of this back story is that said mobster Whit, expertly played by Kirk Douglas, puts Jeff on the trail of a dame who done Whit wrong. The events from this portion of story include one of the best ever cut-away implied sex scenes.

The ensuing complication relates to Jeff earning a place on the enemies list of  Whit. Jeff subsequently evades facing the consequences of his betrayal until a "colleague" drives into his station.

New noir-style drama ensues when Whit coerces Jeff into participating in a caper. Suffice to say that the related events validate the noir principles that the past never remains in the past and that no one can be trusted.

The distinctions regarding "Past" that warrant the Archive release extend beyond the exceptional story and performances. Having director Jacques Tourneur, who is best known for the 1942 version of "Cat People" at the helm contributes to this film being a genuine work of art.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Past" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.