Baby, I don’t care.

Out of the Past is often cited as one of the best noirs ever, and with good reason!  Jane Greer, gorgeous, slinky, and absolutely ruthless, and Robert Mitchum, droopy-eyed and victimized by fate, are fantastic.  The plot structure is classic:  a decent guy is destroyed by a fatal woman and a past which he tries to outrun, but which inevitably overtakes and devours him.  Marvelous dialog and Kirk Douglas as a cold-hearted mobster complete the inky tableau.

Jeff Bailey is a private eye retained by Whit, the mobster, to find and retrieve his moll, Kathy, who shot him in the belly a few times before decamping with $40,000.  Jeff finds her down Mexico way, a long, tall, cool drink of white in the afternoon sun, and, of course, he’s done for.

I never saw her in the daytime. We seemed to live by night. What was left of the day went away like a pack of cigarettes you smoked. I didn’t know where she lived. I never followed her. All I ever had to go on was a place and time to see her again. I don’t know what we were waiting for. Maybe we thought the world would end

How big a chump can you get to be? I was finding out.

  

On the beach, Kathy tells all to Jeff, and he abandons himself to her and to his destruction:

But I didn’t take anything. I didn’t, Jeff. Don’t you believe me?
Baby, I don’t care.

Ah, but later, the crosses, double-crosses, and various twists intervene, and Jeff sees that Kathy is not one to be trusted even as far as you can see her.

Can’t you even feel sorry for me?
I’m not going to try.
Jeff…
Just get out, will you? I have to sleep in this room.

Jeff eventually finds himself trapped in the web of this black widow, expostuating fatalistically, “Build my gallows high, baby.”  But he gets his wish:

Oh, Jeff, I don’t want to die!
Neither do I, baby, but if I have to, I’m gonna die last.

She didn’t have to kill him, but it was so much easier that way.

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4 Responses to Baby, I don’t care.

  1. Guy Savage says:

    Out of the Past is a great film. Have you read Mitchum’s autobio Baby, I Don’t Care?

  2. Ducky's here says:

    I think the measure of Mitchum is “The Friends of Eddie Coyle”. The Boston accent is about the toughest to do and he just stepped on the set and started in like a native. Some terrific lines.

    Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle: No, I am not finished. Look, I’m gettin’ old, you hear? I spent most of my life hanging around crummy joints with a buncha punks drinkin’ the beer, eatin’ the hash and the hot dogs and watchin’ the other people go off to Florida while I’m sweatin’ out how I’m gonna pay the plumber. I done time and I stood up but I can’t take no more chances. Next time, it’s gonna be me goin’ to Florida.

    …Great dialog, like a native. Contrast to Jack Nicholson who didn’t even attempt the Boston in the pretty cheesy “The Departed”.

    Anyone know of a bad performance from Mitchum?

  3. Guy Savage says:

    I haven’t read it L. It’s sitting on my shelf…waiting….I thought perhaps you had due to the title (from the line of the film).

    His Kind of Woman is great fun if you get a chance to see it.

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