Told partially in flashback, Jeff is trying to make a fresh start with a good girl when his past catches up with him. Seems old Jeff left his prior job on rather poor terms, with a backstory involving his boss’ two-timing, thieving girlfriend (Jane Greer), and it’s unclear if Whit wants to make amends or get revenge.
Out of the Past is a complex film chuck full of noir-speak that sometimes left me scratching my head ("Now, do you wanna talk business, or do you wanna play house?" or "You know, a dame with a rod is like a guy with a knitting needle"). Just about everyone was duplicitous and its unclear if they are ever telling the truth, even when talking to their co-conspirators. Add to that two femme-fatals (Greer and Rhonda Fleming) looked alike making me mistake the first for the second. My head got a lot of scratching done that day.
Overall, Out of the Past was nice but not spectacular. It holds your attention well, so AMRU 3.5. It's held in high esteem as a great Noir film, but man was it confounding. Mitchum joked that a few pages of the script were lost in the mimeo department. But still, I'll give it another watch. The Maltese Falcon was way better the second time around. This may be as well.
“Joe couldn't find a prayer in the Bible”