Saturday, April 23, 2005

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No comics reviews tonight, and it's all Robert Mitchum's fault. Well, Kirk Douglas shares the blame, too. I just finished watching the great 1947 noir Out of the Past, in which private detective Mitchum gets hired by crooked gambler Douglas to find his girlfriend, who shot him in the stomach and ran off to points south with $40,000 of his money. Of course, she's drop-dead gorgeous and of course Mitchum, like all good noir saps, falls in love with her. He cooks up a plan to throw Douglas off the trail so they could escape, but it all goes south and Mitchum gets away from the whole thing by taking up residence in a small California town, running a gas station. Unfortunately, Douglas' right hand man finds him and has him brought back, to do some dirty work for him and serve as his patsy. And, of course complications ensue before the downbeat ending.

This is justifiably hailed as a classic, and arguably as the best noir film of them all, and I can't argue with either assertion- even though as a film genre, noir just doesn't excite me as it does many others. There's only so much you can do with the dame, the dick, the criminal, and the night-dark rainy city streets- and this limited palette just doesn't yank my crank generally. But I still enjoyed this for its many strengths- Mitchum, in one of his signature tough-guy soft-heart roles; Douglas, slick, sharp and mean, and Jane Greer as the femme fatale who just can't be trusted. Lots of witty dialogue and one-liners, and the photography was beautiful- especially the scenes that took place out in the mountains where Mitchum's character liked to fish.

If this sounds a little familiar, you're probably remembering 1984's Against All Odds, the Miami Vice-d remake of this film which had its moments, none less than the great (but brief) cameo by Kid Creole and the Coconuts in their mid-80's "Tropical Gangsta" glory. I had never seen OotP, though, and I'm glad I got the's a small slice of cinema history. Funny thing- I kept flashing on several of Will Eisner's Spirit stories, especially one which (to the best of my recollection) was kinda based on this, in which the Spirit goes looking for Sand Saref or one of Eisner's many female protagonists on a tropical island and a hurricane strikes. It's amazing how Eisner channeled all this cinema noir stuff to use in his stories.

No time to finish new comics reviews, though. I'll try to get them done tomorrow.

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