Film Analysis Of Jacques Tourneur's Out Of The Past

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From the start, Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past certainly makes an impact. It opens with a swirl of mountain scenery, everything seemingly idyllic and peaceful, but undercut with a bombastic, slightly urgent soundtrack. Something’s amiss. We’re then placed in the back of a car, watching Paul Valentine (Joe) drive up to the gas station. He instantly looks out of place — a gangster, dressed head-to-toe in black, in a small Californian town. He’s flippant and rude to The Kid. And he’s looking for a man named Bailey. That’s never good news. Thus, it begins. Out of the Past is a classic example of film noir. Before we even meet Jeff Bailey (née Markham), he’s already being pulled back into the grimy, dark world of his past. As a noir, this film has everything — a hard-boiled detective, a catastrophic return to the underbelly of crime, the irresistible tug of fate, snappy, cynical dialogue spoken in a cynical world, a flashback, a twisting, complex plot, incredibly expressive lighting and cinematography, a femme fatale so horrible, she makes Phyllis Dietrichson look like a sane and reasonable role model, and cancer-by-osmosis levels of smoking. Like other noir we’ve seen, it doesn’t conform neatly to one genre. There’s violent crime, yes, but there’s also pure romance (from Ann’s point-of-view) and comedy. But first and foremost, what makes this film a true noir is its roughness. The world Jeff Markham inhabits is not a pleasant one. Deception and betrayal are taken for

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