Where was Out Of The Past filmed?
Bridgeport, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Reno, New York
Apartment, Beach/oceanview, Ranch, Clubs/bars, Studios
About Out Of The Past
Jacques Tourneur directed Out of the Past, the 1947 noir film adaptation of Geoffrey Homes’ Build My Gallows High. Daniel Mainwaring, who went by the Homes pseudonym, also worked on the screenplay. The film garnered cult-favorite status thanks to its complex yet reverting storyline and dark cinematography.
The premise revolves around Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum), a former New York-based private eye. After ditching his PI job and name, Jeff Markham, he starts over at the rural mountain town of Bridgeport, California, where he also opens up a gas station. The arrival of Joe Stefanos (Paul Valentine) disturbs his newfound peace and it also dredges up Jeff’s past.
He is required to go out of retirement and track down a lady called Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) in Lake Tahoe. In his former line of work, Jeff brushed shoulders with a gambling kingpin called Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas).
Kathie shot the mobster four times, but fortunately, he only took one hit. Afterward, she took off with the kingpin’s $40,000, and even after all that, Sterling says he doesn’t mean her harm and simply wants her back.
In the background, Jeff is madly in love with Ann Miller (Virginia Huston) but her lifelong friend, Jim (Richard Webb), isn’t too fond of their relationship. The Kid (Dickie Moore), who is deaf and mute, works at Jeff’s station, and he is the one who delivers Joe’s message. Ann accompanies Jeff on the trip to Lake Tahoe, and through a flashback, she learns about his previous life.
Jeff eventually catches up with Kathie in Acapulco; she seduces him and he proposes they run off together. The pair flees to San Francisco but one of Sterling’s honchos, Jack Fisher (Steve Brodie), who also happens to be Jeff’s previous partner in the PI business, spots them and tries to blackmail them.
What follows is a series of unexpected double-crosses orchestrated by Kathie. She kills Sterling, Jeff, and Joe, and loses her life in a police roadblock shootout.
Out Of The Past Locations
A near-fatal plane crash almost ended the Out of the Past production before the camera started rolling. The incident happened at the airport landing field in Bridgeport when the brakes of the aircraft, ferrying Mitchum and two RKO Pictures executives, failed to work.
The Oscar-nominated star and the pilot walked out of it unscathed but the two studio executives were knocked unconscious. Even after the close-shave encounter, Mitchum dusted himself off and hitched a ride to the first filming location in Bridgeport town.
These are some of the tidbits that further pique the interest about the Tourneur film, and revisiting the cinematic marvel also brings up questions about the Out of the Past filming locations.
According to IMDB, filming mostly took place around California. Various scenes were recorded at Bridgeport, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The production unit also shot segments of the movie in the Mexican cities of Acapulco, Mexico City, and Taxco.
New York City and Reno, Nevada also provided the setting for some of the film’s scenes. Without further ado, here is a recap of the best scenes in Out of the Past and details about their real-life filming locations.
Against All Odds is the noir film’s 1984 remake. Greer portrayed the mother of her character in Out of the Past while Rachel Ward depicted the woman who fled to Mexico after stealing her employer’s money.
Joe tracks down Jeff’s gas station scene in Out Of The Past
309 E Main Street, Bridgeport
The scene where Joe pulls up at Jeff’s gas station and tries to get Jimmy “the Kid’s” attention is a memorable one. Not even his car horn-hooting antics roused the young man’s attention. That is until he lights a cigarette and flicks the burning match, which then strikes the Kid’s hand.
Joe notices that the Kid is staring at his lips to read what he is saying. “Deaf and dumb,” he asks, and the young man nods in agreement, after initially touching his ears and lips to indicate the same. Joe finds out that Bailey isn’t around but he decides to wait for the former PI.
Later, the Kid heads out to the lake and informs Jeff that there’s a stranger at the station looking for him. Sterling’s hired gun then delivers the message about the boss wanting Jeff to take up the Lake Tahoe job.
309 Main Street, Bridgeport, California provided the backdrop for Jeff’s gas station scenes. It’s a great spot for a photo op, and if you do find yourself in the neighborhood, Chipotle Mexican Grill is nearby. Bus 1 and CL have transit lines that pass near the Out of the Past filming location.
Ann and Jeff's fishing scene in Out Of The Past
Lower Twin Lake, Bridgeport
When Joe arrives at the gas station looking for Jeff, the Kid points in the direction of the hills. Jeff and Ann were out fishing by the creek, and as he puts his fishing gear in order, his fiancé says “They say the day you die your name is written on a cloud.”
It’s one of the instances that foreshadows what is to come, much like the fishing references. Colin Taylor’s 2015 paper on film noir studies, explains that the fishing motif is an allegory of sorts that creates an atmosphere of entrapment.
Sterling hires Jeff to go “fishing” for Kathie in Lake Tahoe and the Kid later uses a fishing rod to hook Stefanos who then tumbles down to the river and dies. Fisher, on the other hand, serves as the proverbial “fisher of men.”
The fishing scenes were filmed at Upper Twin Lake in Bridgeport, California. 10 miles from Bridgeport, the Lower Twin Lakes Campgrounds is worth a visit. The grounds offer numerous hiking trails, including the Robinson Creek Trail. Bus 14 and 7 can get you to the Out of the Past location.
Jeff first meets Kathie scene in Out Of The Past
RKO Encino Ranch, Encino, Los Angeles
The majority of the film’s scenes play out in flashback mode, and more details about the characters and their backstories are relayed in voice-over. One of these flashbacks takes up about 40 minutes of the film, Jeff opens up about his past, on the night-long ride to Lake Tahoe with Ann.
He crossed paths with Kathie at the La Mar Azul bar in Acapulco, and they fell in love. Jeff explains, “And then I saw her, coming out of the sun, and I knew why Whit didn’t care about that 40 grand.”
The Out of the Past scenes where Jeff first sets eyes on Kathie was filmed at the RKO Encino Ranch on Balboa Boulevard & Burbank Boulevard. The movie theater, Pablo’s Cantina, and the Western Union, which are also seen in the movie, were all studio creations.
The RKO Ranch featured a western town complete with a rail line passing through the property. It also provided the setting for scenes in other productions like Prairie Law, 3 Godfathers, and Blood on the Moon. After exchanging ownership in 1954, the Encino Park housing development bulldozed the 89-acre backlot.
Jeff and Kathie’s beach scene in Out Of The Past
Sequit Point, Leo Carrillo State Park
Jeff and Kathie shared their first kiss at the beach. The pair then sits on the sand and reflects on the pressing issues at hand. Knowing that Jeff is there in relation to the Sterling incident, she asks when he intends to take her back.
He tells her that Sterling didn’t die and he wants her back. Kathie makes it clear that she hates the kingpin and is sorry that he didn’t die. She admits to shooting him but denies having taken off with the 40 grand.
“ I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know anything, except how much I hated him. But I didn’t take anything.”
The Sequit Point, found at the Leo Carrillo State Park in California, provided the backdrop for the beach scene. Leo Carillo is a sandy spot that rests close to the mouth of a creek fed by the Arroyo Sequit.
The Sequit Point is the highlight at the beach with several tunnels and sea caves to explore. Plan on an activity-laden day or camping when visiting the Out of the Past location.
The Park doubles as a prime spot for biking, swimming, Scuba diving, surfing, fishing, and Tidepooling. From Los Angeles, the Line 20 bus or Line 4 bus will get you to the Leo Carrillo State Park.
Joe tracks Jeff by trailing the kid scene in Out Of The Past
June Lake Loop (CA-158), California
After taking off to San Francisco, Fisher spots Jeff and Kathie on the tracks. He tails them to a mountain cabin and attempts to blackmail the pair for his silence. The former PI business partners get into a brawl, and it ends with Kathie killing Fisher before driving away.
She leaves behind a bank book which reveals that she had stolen the $40,000 after all. The next time they cross paths is when Jeff takes the second job involving a San Francisco lawyer Leonard Eels.
He flees to a hideout spot after she frames him for Eels and Fisher’s deaths. Meeting up with Joe, he remarks, “You look like I might be in trouble,” She instructs him to track Jeff through the Kid, and Joe catches up with him at a gorge.
The June Lake Loop in California is where the Kid hooks Joe using a fishing line and accidentally reels him into his death. As for Jeff's hideout scenes, the Out of the Past production unit filmed those sequences at West Walker River Canyon.
June Lake offers some of the most photogenic sights, and the main village is equally noteworthy. The June Lake downtown community offers several shops, taverns, restaurants, and lodges.
Jeff confronts Kathie scene in Out Of The Past
Broadway at Himmelmann Place, San Francisco
Jeff is tasked to retrieve incriminating tax documents against Sterling that Eels has at his San Francisco office. That is when he meets Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming), Eel’s secretary, who much like Kathie is orchestrating a double cross.
While at Meta’s apartment, after finding Eel dead even after warning him about the chain of events, he overhears a series of phone calls Kathie makes. Realizing that she has a thing to do with Eel’s death, he confronts her by delivering the iconic line.
“Was there a slip-up, baby?” Analyzing the incident, Jeff finds out that Kathie gave Sterling an affidavit claiming that Jeff had killed Fisher. When Sterling’s men catch up with Jeff, on an errand to deliver the tax papers, he exchanges the documents for the affidavit.
The scenes at Meta’s apartment were filmed at Broadway at Himmelmann Place in San Francisco. As for Eel’s apartment scenes, the Out of the Past production crew made use of an apartment at 114 Fulton Street.
There are plenty of other Out of the Past filming locations to explore around California. Mono County Courthouse, 278 Main Street in Bridgeport is where they filmed the court scenes. It is the second oldest courthouse in the state of California, and since 1880, the legal institution has been in continuous use.
For other San Francisco locations, including Sterling’s club, Eel’s office, and Teeter’s restaurant, the production team used film sets at the RKO Studios at 780 N. Gower Street. Lake Sherwood and the east side of the Sonora Pass also had cameos in the film noir.