"You're like a leaf that the wind blows from one gutter to another."
As Raymond Chandler often tried to do with his novels (with mixed success), plot is of relatively minor importance to Out of the Past’s success. It’s hopelessly complicated, made up of a series of flashbacks, double-crosses, and various scenes of characters running from each other. The sunny, Mexican setting doesn’t feel like traditional noir, though it is overwhelming dark and gloomy in a moral, emotional sense, and the arc of Jeff’s impending doom – both past and future, chronologically speaking – is imminent, yet endlessly fascinating.
Out of the Past is available on Blu-ray and comes with the highest possible recommendation. If you’re only going to watch five films in the noir series, make this one of them. Granted, I could watch Robert Mitchum sit on screen, watching paint dry, but this is certainly a fine performance from one of America’s most compelling actors. One of his rare talents was the ability to portray ease and stillness, which he does here despite the mood of anxiety and his inevitable fate.