Out of the Past (originally released in the United Kingdom as Build My Gallows High) is a 1947 film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas. The film was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring (using the pseudonym Geoffrey Homes), with uncredited revisions by Frank Fenton and James M. Cain, from his novel Build My Gallows High (also written as Homes). Film historians consider the film a superb example of film noir, due to its convoluted, dark storyline, dark cinematography and classic femme fatale. The film's cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca also shot Tourneur's Cat People. In 1991, Out of the Past was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Joe Stephanos (Paul Valentine) is a foreboding looking man who arrives at small, out-of-the-way Bridgeport, California in search of Jeff Bailey (Mitchum). Jeff is dating local girl Ann Miller (Virginia Huston), whose parents are mistrustful of Jeff, as is Jim (Richard Webb), the local law officer and long time admirer of Ann. Stephanos informs Jeff that Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) wants to see him.
Widely hailed as a classic of film noir, Out of the Past is difficult, complex, and not entirely satisfying. The Robert Mitchum caper has the star as a gas station attendent with a past shrouded in mystery, namely involving a lot of money and a dame (Greer), of course. The money and the dame belong to Kirk Douglas, and most everyone ends up dead. A little too brooding and stylish for its own good, if you ask me.
Based on the book Build My Gallows High.