How much did you know about this classic film?
Well, forget about ‘knowing.’ How about ‘seeing.’ We hope you caught the picture: it ran last night (Mon.) on TCM.
A factoid or two about its director, Jacques Tourneur. Born in Paris, he spent many early years in Hollywood because of his father, the widely respected director Maurice Tourneur, who churned out many titles in his native France and in Hollywood.
Jacques eventually settled in at RKO, the studio that spawned Out of the Past plus an impressive array of crime dramas. But Tourneur’s best work was not in the film noir genre, but under the supervision of producer-screenwriter Val Lewton. The teaming resulted in such films as 1942’s Cat People, and 1943’s I Walked With A Zombie and The Leopard Man.
Don’t be put off because these are low budget horror titles. They are excellent and must be seen.
Ok, on to the answers to our Out of the Past Quiz.
1) Question: Out of the Past marked a milestone for Mitchum, and came at a high point in his career. a) True; or b) False.
Answer: b) False. More likely it was the nadir of the actor’s career. When he made the movie, Mitchum was nearly broke, having been bilked by his unsavory business manager. Then, the infamous marijuana raid in 1948 took place at the home of Lila Leeds, a blond starlet friend of Mitchum’s. Leeds had an abbreviated Hollywood career peaking the late Forties. She attempted to cash in on the headlines by starring as a chorus girl who ruins her life by smoking pot in the 1949 melodrama, Wild Weed. (She Shoulda Said NO reads the one-sheet cut line). It was Howard Hughes who retrieved Mitchum’s career following his release from jail. Hughes not only put him under contract at RKO but picked out softer properties to re-endear Mitchum to mainstream audiences. It worked.
2) Question: Mitchum was not the first actor to be offered the lead role of ‘Jeff Bailey.’ Which of the following received earlier offers? a) Humphrey Bogart; b) John Garfield; c) Dick Powell; or d) Robert Montgomery.
Answer: b) and c), Garfield and Powell.
3) Question: Out of the Past marked a milestone for Jane Greer, and came at a high point in her career? a) True; or b) False.
Answer: a) True. After the picture, Greer was romantically pursued by RKO boss Howard Hughes. Rebuffed, Hughes exacted revenge by effectively sidelining Greer’s subsequent career. Her lasting legacy is, of course, Out of the Past.
4) Question: Like many enduring movie classics, Out of the Past was a boxoffice bomb when it was first released. a) True; or b) False.
Answer: b) False. Out of the Past was modestly successful at the boxoffice, but by no means a blockbuster.
5) Question: Dickie Moore, who plays the young deaf mute known as ‘the Kid,’ was offscreen married to one of Hollywood’s biggest musical stars. Who is she? a) Ann Miller; b) Kathryn Grayson; c) Betty Hutton; or d) Jane Powell.
Answer: d) Jane Powell.
6) Question: Which one of the following titles was Out of the Past originally known by? a) Against All Odds; b) Build My Gallows High; c) Elevator to the Gallows; or d) I Left My Heart in San Francisco.
Answer: b) Build My Gallows High.
7) Question: Jane Greer appeared in a 1984 remake of Out of the Past. What role does she play?
Answer: The picture was Against All Odds, starring Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward. Greer plays the mother of the Ward character, who in turn is based on the ‘Kathie Moffat’ character Greer played in Out of the Past.
8) Question: Director Jacques Tourneur was a Frenchman wise in the ways of Hollywood. His favorite producer at RKO was a) Howard Hughes; b) Val Lewton; c) Warren Duff; or d) Edward Dmytryk.
Answer: b) As indicated above, Val Lewton.
9) Question: RKO realized it had a big hit with Out of the Past, and released the picture soon after shooting concluded on Jan. 9, 1947. a) True; and b) False.
Answer: a) True. Production completed on Jan. 9, 1947, and Out of the Past was released the following November.
10) Question: What is the most common criticism of Out of the Past? a) The movie runs too long; b) It is confusingly plotted especially in the San Francisco scenes; c) The characters lack any sense of humor; or d) All of the above.
Answer: b) The plot is often difficult to follow in the scenes set in San Francisco. But who cares? Just sit back and enjoy the picture.