Out Of The Past (1947) – Tourneur’s Mise En Scene

Ten minutes into Out of the Past, when Jeff picks-up Ann for the trip to Lake Tahoe to meet with Whit, and during which Jeff begins to tell Ann about his mysterious past in flashback, Jeff opens the car door for Ann, and while he moves to the driver side and takes the wheel, the director, Jacques Tourneur, frames Ann alone inside the divided windscreen of the car for a full 10 seconds.

Out Of The Past

It is early morning and the scene is dark with foreboding, as Jeff’s past races to catch up with him. By framing Ann alone in the car, with the dividing upright of the car windscreen closing the frame and excluding Jeff from the scene, Tourneur precisely conveys the relationship as doomed.

This is a master craftsman at work.

Tourneur’s other Hollywood noirs include:

Experiment Perilous (1944)
Berlin Express (1948)
Nightfall (1957)

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