Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Out of the Past
Out of the Past is an exceptionally archetypal noir. The photography is excellent. The customary high contrast black & white interiors are effective, but I like the exterior shots. In general I like exterior action shots from 1930s and 1940s Hollywood films because most pictures were shot entirely on studio lots. Many film noirs were shot off the studio lots because the "A" pictures usually took up studio space. One of the reasons I like East Hollywood and Echo Park so much is because those houses and streets were the settings of many noir locations. But Out of the Past opens in Northern California, the natural setting and small town feel cheerless. Robert Mitchum works as a gas station owner, a circumstance that is instantly wistful. As the story begins we know that whatever he was able to build for himself would soon be lost. His past comes back to meet him repeatedly as he travels to deal with the characters from his former life. But it is not an emotional journey, the film's desolate tone stays constant until the end. That's what I remember about this movie, that and Robert Mitchum's tired eyes.