Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Essential Cinema - 4

Out Of The Past

Robert Mitchem
Jane Greer
Kirk Douglas
Rhonda Fleming
Richard Webb

Jacques Tourneur

Geoffrey Homes

Nicholas Musuraca A.S.C.

A Private Detective with a checkered past tries to start a new life in a small Northern Nevada town. When his past catches up with him, he devises a plan to set things right and protect the woman he loves.

It is easy to be led down the wrong path, especially if you love the wrong person. Sometimes our attempts to make amends or set things right don't always go as we planned. In reality, you often times can't escape your past. It hunts you down and finds you.

This is a Film Noir classic. I saw it once in college and was impressed by it, but couldn't remember much of the film since so many years have passed. Watching it again, only makes me realize just how much Hollywood has lost its ability to make really good films.

There aren't too many cons about this film. The black and white cinematography looks like it was done by Ansel Adams. Almost every scene in the film is suitable for framing. There is a lot of dramatic lighting, long shadows, cigarettes, hats and trench-coats. The overall feeling of the film is one of intimacy and dark mystery. It draws you in, as though you were sitting in the room with the actors and a part of the conversation. If you want to see what really good screen writing is all about, see this film. In my wildest dreams, I wished I talked like this. Every word carries weight and the comebacks and smart responses are the essence of strong men and women with dark secrets.

As for the cons. I suppose the fact that every scene shows someone smoking isn't really a good image for young people today.....the whole film is basically a Phillip-Morris advertisement. The only other con would be the fact that the director and the screenwriter assume the audience isn't stupid. You have to pay attention to this film to really follow it. There are no special effects, explosions or thrill rides to entertain your eyes. You have to listen to what the people are saying and understand their hidden meanings. Basically, a one hour and thirty minute college course in how to make great cinema.