Great Characters Wiki
Great Characters Wiki

Jeff Marhkam (sometimes known as Jeff Bailey as an alias) is the main protagonist of the 1947 film noir Out of the Past. He's a local detective who works at a gas station as a way to try and hide from his past, although he's forced to reface his past with Whit Sterling and Kathie Moffat.

He was portrayed by Robert Mitchum in one of his most well-known film roles.

Why He Rocks

  1. Robert Mitchum is absolutely amazing in his role and the character and we get a glimpse of that famous Mitchum screen persona of sleepy-eyed cynic ready to toss out a line like "Baby, I don't care" with nonchalant sex appeal.
  2. The "white knight" archetype often seen from male leads in film noirs is played around with in the situation. Here the lead's a bit more like a real PI, and less of a Sherlock Holmes-esque type and a casanova. He was so ensnared by a woman, he compromised his entire conviction and comportment in the pursuit of a payoff. He's an absolute paradox. Even though he prides himself on being smart enough that nobody could put anything over him, he's often cynically prideful and romantically blind.
  3. Similar of most of the other film's characters, he's yearning for something more yet is tragically trapped in his dark past and pulled into his own doom. For him, he was a private detective who worked with kingpin Whit Sterling. He had fallen in love with the woman he was supposed to bring in to Whit's place, but he chose to keep her into hiding and realized too late that she was actually a dirty manipulative liar and trickster, and allowed himself to get framed by the woman for his partner's death. This forces him to hide out in a small town and work at a gas station while getting in love with a more loyal woman named Ann.
  4. His narration and dialogue practically carries the film along a laid-back high. He gets a lot of memorable lines such as:
    1. His philosophy of life when he states when Kathie asks if there's a way to win and he responds with "There's a way to lose more slowly".
    2. When Kathie says she's sorry the man she shot didn't die, he states "Give him time"
    3. When his nice girlfriend didn't think Kathie could all bad, Jeff tells her "she comes closest".
  5. He's fierce, bold, fearless, rightfully pessimistic and an surprisingly has a lot of hidden depths to him. Even though as mentioned above he's occasionally blinded by his love for Kathie, he still manages to be incredibly compelling to watch. He's got hints of melancholy, amusement and cold violence, that gives the movie a core of mystery the leaves you hooked. Additionally, he partially learns his lesson about trusting Kathie and ends up taking her with more caution.