American Pandemic: “There’s a way to lose more slowly.”

by Bob Schwartz

Out of the Past (1947) is the best of all American film noir movies. It contains dozens of lines memorable and quotable, dialogue suffused with fatalistic wisdom.

Jeff and Kathie are at a roulette table. She is losing.

JEFF: That isn’t the way to play it.

KATHIE: Why not?

JEFF: Because it isn’t the way to win.

KATHIE: Is there a way to win?

JEFF: Well, there’s a way to lose more slowly.

The lives of Americans are in the hands of a loser. At this point in response to the pandemic, it isn’t clear exactly what “winning” means, but it is for the moment out of reach. What remains is for the man at the roulette table to figure out is how to lose more slowly.

Spoiler alert: At the end of Out of the Past, both Jeff and Kathie are dead. It is after all film noir.