Movies
2:09 pm
Sat May 5, 2012

Million Time Movies: What's Your Comfort Film?

Originally published on Sun June 24, 2012 10:29 am

Weekends on All Things Considered's series, Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, whose credits include The Big Chill, The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the movie he can't get enough of is Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past. Kasdan says that the 1947 movie is a great piece of film noir cinema.

"Every scene has got great things and it's very funny," Kasdan says. "It's very wised up in the manner of film noir."

The movie starts out bright, sunny, and cheerful, Kasdan says, but soon descends into a darker mood as we learn more about the main character's past, a former private investigator played by Robert Mitchum.

"The whole language of the underworld and the understanding that the characters have of each other, you feel like you're being led into a secret world," he says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Is there a movie you never get tired of, one, you know, where you can practically recite every line by heart? Well, over the next few months, we're going to ask the people who make movies about those films that shaped who they are today.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LAWRENCE KASDAN: My name is Lawrence Kasdan. I'm a movie director, screenwriter and producer. And the movie I've seen a million times is "Out of the Past," directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. I've probably seen it eight or nine times. It is a film noir, and one of the best ever made. Every scene has got great things in it. It's very funny, very wised up in the manner of film noir.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

ROBERT MITCHUM: (as Jeff) Hello, Marny.

MARY FIELD: (as Marny) Well, look who's back.

MITCHUM: You die your hair?

FIELD: Why?

MITCHUM: I always keep thinking of you as a blonde.

FIELD: For all the thinking you do about me, I could be bald-headed.

KASDAN: The Robert Mitchum character is a former private eye who's been involved with some ugly things and had straightened out and now runs a gas station in a small California town. And the beginning of the movie is all sunlit and cheerful.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KASDAN: But as you get deeper into the story, you see his history, and that's a very dark, complicated history. And he becomes involved with a beautiful woman, with Jane Greer making her debut.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

JANE GREER: (as Kathie) You know, you're a curious man.

MITCHUM: (as Jeff) You're going to make every guy you meet a little bit curious.

GREER: That's not what I mean. You don't ask questions. You don't even ask me what my name is.

MITCHUM: All right. What's your name?

GREER: Kathie.

MITCHUM: I like it.

KASDAN: She's the girlfriend of Kirk Douglas. Kirk Douglas hires Robert Mitchum to find Jane Greer, who has taken off with some of his money.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

KIRK DOUGLAS: (as Whit) She ran out on me with 40,000 bucks. I want her back - all the money.

KASDAN: And Mitchum finds her, falls in love with her, tries to run away with her, gets caught. And they get involved in a terrible scheme, and then they're separated. There's one amazing scene when he is reunited with Jane Greer, who has totally betrayed him.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) You remember Kathie, don't you?

MITCHUM: (as Jeff) Yeah, I remember Kathie.

KASDAN: She's gone back to Kirk Douglas. Now, she comes in secretly to talk to Robert Mitchum, and he's totally disgusted by her presence, doesn't believe a word she says. And there's bitter dialogue that I thought was some of the greatest ever written.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

GREER: (as Kathie) Jeff, I've missed you. I've wondered about you, prayed you'd understand.

KASDAN: And he looks at her with sick cynicism and weariness, and he says...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

MITCHUM: (as Jeff) You prayed, Kathie?

KASDAN: She continues to try to convince him, and he says...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

MITCHUM: (as Jeff) Well, just get out, will you? I have to sleep in this room.

KASDAN: Get out of here. I have to sleep in this room.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "OUT OF THE PAST")

MITCHUM: (as Jeff) Just leave it where it all is. Get out.

KASDAN: Pretty tough stuff. The whole language of the underworld and the understanding that the characters have of each other, you feel like you're being led into a secret world.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: That's writer and director Lawrence Kasdan, best known for "The Big Chill," talking about the movie that changed his life, "Out of the Past." Kasdan's new film, "Darling Companion," is in theaters now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.