Complete summary of Out of the Past (1947)

Jeff Bailey owns and operates a gas station in Bridgeport, a small town in the mountains. Jeff is found by a man from his past, Joe. As Jeff is summoned to meet Joe's boss Whit, he confesses his past to love interest Ann, who's Jim's girlfriend. Jim, Jeff and Joe-doesn't the writer know any names that don't begin with J?

Jeff tells Ann that he and his private detective partner Fisher met gangster Whit, who had been shot by girlfriend Kathie. She had run away with Whit's forty thousand dollars. Whit wanted Kathie back, but not to harm her. Jeff found Kathie in Mexico. She has the face of a goldfish but that didn't stop Jeff from turning into her lapdog or me from mixing up animal metaphors. Jeff lied to Whit that Kathie had eluded him.

Jeff and Kathie ran away to San Francisco but split up after Jeff sighted his ex-partner Fisher. Months later when they felt safe, Jeff and Kathie arranged a rendezvous only to be interrupted by Fisher. Fisher demanded forty thousand dollars from Kathie, who denied stealing it. Fisher and Jeff got into a fistfight. Kathie watched and looked orgasmic. Well, she did. Then she shot Fisher dead and fled, leaving Jeff with the body and her checkbook that stated she had forty thousand dollars.

Here endeth the flashback sequence and Jeff's confession. Ann drops Jeff off at Whit's palatial house overlooking Lake Tahoe. Jeff tells Ann he's tired of running. Whit acts cheerful around Jeff. He wants Jeff to retrieve papers that show he's been evading income taxes. A San Francisco man named Leonard Eels had helped Whit evade paying income tax but is now blackmailing Whit. Jeff refuses but changes his mind when Kathie shows up. When Jeff and Kathie are alone, she tells Jeff that she couldn't help coming back to Whit or telling Whit about her affair with Jeff. Kathie tells Jeff she missed him but he acts coldly towards her.

In San Francisco, Jeff contacts Whit's accomplice Meta Carson. Meta is also Eels' secretary. Meta excels at multitasking and wearing tight dresses. She arranges to have Jeff meet Eels at Eels' home. Jeff warns Eels that Eels is in trouble and that Jeff is the patsy. Jeff tails Meta to Eels' office and returns to Eels' apartment, only to find Eels dead. Jeff goes to Meta's home and finds Kathie posing as Meta on the telephone so she can get Eels' building manager to discover the dead body. Jeff figures out that Whit had Eels killed and Jeff framed for it. Kathie says she was forced to sign an affidavit incriminating Jeff as Fisher's killer. The affidavit is in Eels' office and the income tax papers have been taken to a nightclub. Jeff gets the income tax papers from the nightclub and hides them before Joe and Kathie catch him. Jeff wants to exchange the tax papers and Eels' body for the incriminating affidavit. Kathie and Meta try to retrieve the affidavit, but the police arrive at Eels' office first.

In Bridgeport, the police want Jeff for the murders of Eels and Fisher. Kathie sends Joe after the deaf-mute kid who works at Jeff's gas station. The Kid With No Name leads Joe to Jeff. Joe tries to shoot Jeff but is foiled when The Kid With No Name kills him. Jeff appoints The Kid With No Name Employee of the Month.

At Whit's house, Jeff confronts Kathie. She whimpers and denies sending Joe to kill Jeff. Neither Jeff nor Whit believe her. Jeff wants Joe blamed for Eels' murder and Kathie arrested for Fisher's death. Jeff also wants money and a plane to Mexico from Whit. Angry that Kathie was involved in Joe's death, Whit agrees but wants time to obtain money for Jeff. That gives Jeff time to secretly meet with Ann. Jeff denies killing, denies being in love with Kathie and says that instead of letting a good woman into his no-good life, he should beat Ann. That's what a good woman needs! Jim, who had tailed Ann to her rendezvous, confronts Jeff and reminds him how he's no good.

Jeff goes to meet Whit but finds Whit dead. A gloating Kathie says she'll testify that Jeff killed Whit, Eels and Fisher unless Jeff runs away with her to Mexico. Jeff asks her to fetch her bags and makes a phone call. On the drive to meet the airplane, the police blockade the road. Angry at being betrayed, Kathie shoots Jeff dead and is killed by the cops. In Bridgeport, Ann asks The Kid With No Name whether Jeff was going away with Kathie. The Kid With No Name nods. Ann leaves with Jim.

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