“Out of the Past” is often referred to as the quintessential film noir, and for good reason. Many prominent characteristics of the genre are included in Jacques Tourneur’s film. However, just because it is the epitome of film noir does not necessarily mean it is a great film. Yes, it has a sexy femme fatale, but I would prefer Rita Hayworth in Charles Vidor’s “Gilda” to Jane Greer any day. Hayworth is cunning but remains likable throughout the film, whereas Greer does not have the same mass appeal. “Out of the Past” also has dramatic cinematography, but it does not hold a candle to Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” and the infamous close up of Norma Desmond aka Gloria Swanson. The mood set by Tourneur is most definitely fatalistic, but Orson Welles did a much better job setting the mood eleven years later in “Touch of Evil.” The final trait of film noir that Daniel Mainwaring did get dead on is the suggestive banter and also many memorable one liners...
Kathie Moffett: "Can't you even feel sorry for me?"
Jeff Bailey: "I'm not going to try."
Kathie Moffett: "Jeff ..."
Jeff Bailey: "Just get out, will you? I have to sleep in this room."
"Out of the Past" was not at all a bad film, just an overrated film noir.