Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 1: Out of the Past

First up: Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 film noir classic, Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum.

Jeff Bailey (Mitchum) is the owner of a gas station in a small California town. One day, while out fishing with his girlfriend, Ann (Virginia Huston), he’s visited by a shady guy named Joe (Paul Valentine). Apparently, Bailey has a mysterious past that had laid buried for a few years. Joe tells Bailey to go and see Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas). On the drive to Sterling’s place, Bailey tells Ann about his past and how he had double-crossed Sterling.

Upon meeting Sterling again, it turns out that Bailey must do a job for him to be considered squared up. It turns out that some tax information is being held for less than legitimate purposes and Sterling would like Bailey to retrieve it. Of course, being a film noir, complications ensue.

Out of the Past is one of those wonderful noirs that plays like you’re reading a 40’s pulp. The dialogue is crisp and loaded with the classic pulp slang: guns are rods, women are dames, etc. What’s interesting is that Bailey speaks like an average Joe unless he’s dealing with the shady characters from his past.

Jane Greer is stunning as Kathy Moffat, the femme fatale that is the catalyst for everything getting complicated for our hero. In true noir fashion, you never know whose side she’s on or what her game is. Of course, in these movies, everyone is on a team of one.

What I liked about this movie is that the plot is well constructed (and quite convoluted) and that the story is gripping without any huge action scenes or effect sequences. We don’t even get a chase scene. I don’t know if the average modern audience would even go for a movie like this anymore. Out of the Past does require some attention span; there’s no shocking action every couple of minutes to keep you in the seat. Films like this make you complicit in your entertainment.

Out of the Past is definitely worth the watching.

30 Days of Movies

I have two problems. The first problem is that I have a blog dedicated to film, but I’m horrible at posting regularly. Part of this is because I’m not particularly privy to insider news any sooner than anyone else. Why should I repeat what’s already in a bunch of other sites? The other part is that I just don’t have a structure in place for regular updating.

The second problem is that I have acquired so many films as of late that my viewing list is totally backlogged. I’m getting at least a one film a day and right now, I probably watch about 3 a week. That list builds up quick.

So here’s what I’m doing: First, I’m planning a redesign of the blog and establishing a schedule for updating that works with my freelancing and personal life. While that’s going on, I’m going to implement a blogging goal starting today to get me in the habit of updating. I’m going to post a small review every day for the next 30 days.

30 days of movies. This way, I’ll work down my viewing list and be productive with Shot Reverse Shot.