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DETOUR (1945)

Detour Cover Now wait a cotton picking minute, here! Where did it go? Did it go that way? Did it go this way? Or better yet, did this 67 minute movie made in 1945, go all the way to hell and back, just for the sheer hell of it? Let's see, shall we? Let's see in this classic film-noir Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer; and Starring: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, with Claudia Drake.


So there I was, Al Roberts (Tom Neal), standing on the side of the road and hitchhiking my way to Hollywood to see my stunning girlfriend, Sue (Claudia Drake), When suddenly, though and behold, a man named Charlie Haskell (Edmund MacDonald) pulled up by the side of me and told me to get into his car.

Of course I was more than happy to oblige. And so off we went, just to two of us, travelling down the highways and byways of life, talking about love, business, and affairs of the heart, whilst gradually making some miles in the process.

However, during our travels Charlie became strangely quiet. So quite in fact that when I went to check-up on him to see what was wrong, by accident Charlie slipped out of the car-door and cracked his head on the pavement below.

Obviously I panicked. Panicked like a forlorn looking reindeer caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic. And so not knowing which way to turn -- or what to do -- I hastily dumped Charlie's body into a ditch and made off with his car.

Ops! Bad move! Especially when what next transpires gets rather emotional when I bump into one of Charlie's old friend's, Vera (Ann Savage). As two hitchhikers make a deal - a heinous plan shows some devilish zeal - a car eventually goes un-sold - and at the end of the day, the final leg of this journey isn't so brave and bold.

In my most humble opinion 'Detour' was one of the most suspenseful and captivating film-noirs I've seen in ages. Well, if you're a bit like me, and you're able to look past some of its cosmetic yet dated flaws, at the very heart of this flick is a tale about a poor man who unfortunately delves into a disaster not of his own devising.

Pin Up Of Ann Savage
Try to think of it as a four act play, with each act somehow adding to the overall arch of the story-line. For instance, act one set's the mood by painting a portrait of a disgruntled man who is obviously down on his luck. Act two instigates the pretext by flashing back in time and showing this man wanting to visit his elusive girlfriend. Act three provokes the 'disaster element' by relaying how the man mistakenly kills someone during his travels. And act four makes matter even worse by inserting a cruel counterpoint in the form of the dead man's evil girlfriend. 

More than that, though, I also structurally saw this film in two distinct halves. With the first half centered on how the Al character got himself into this mess. And with the second half centered on the Vera character controlling the Al character, by blackmailing him into cooperating with her fraudulent money-making schemes.

Of course I do mean this with all due respect, dear reader. It's just that I wanted to show to you how structurally sound this movie truly is. Cause each element -- either combined or in sequence -- makes the conceptual narrative easier to follow, and much more enchanting to behold.

Oh! And while I'm on the topic of 'enchanting', I must say that most of the actors involved -- most notably Tom Neal and Ann Savage -- did such a good job they almost made me forget that most of this film was shot on a sound-stage. Well, from my point of view their bold and sullen performances enhanced the noir-like nature of this piece. Going so far as to say they actually made me suspend disbelief with their brash tones, bold actions, and a great voice over-narration that emotionally supercharged this adventure to it's nth degree. 

Vintage 1945 Film Poster of Detour Starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage

Vintage 1945 Film Poster of Detour Starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage
Honestly, pal. There were times throughout this movie I couldn't give a toss if the sets were wobbly, or the print was murky, because at the end of the day the actors made me want to see how this story ultimately resolved itself. But... but... errr... wait up for a moment. Before I ramble on too much and give away any spoilers. Let's me stop myself right here with my usual filmic-facts. (1) 'PRC' first screened this production in America on the exact same day the American screen-actor Earl Boen was born. It was on the 7th of November, 1945. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Curve of Destiny' in Brazil; 'Diversion' in Germany'; and 'Fateful Encounter' in Greece. (3) Despite the majority of this movie being shot on a sound-stage located at 'PRC', some of it was also filmed in an unknown hotel room, plus on location within the Californian state of Lancaster. (4) One of the main taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'He went searching for love, but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry... Violence... Mystery!'. (5) Ann Savage once said she didn't get along too well with her co-star, Tom Neal, during filming. And on one occasion she even slapped Tom in the face because he put his tongue down her ear. (6) Even though officially this production cost $30 thousand dollars to make, it was once speculated that it cost over $100 thousand dollars. Also, depending on who you listen to, this film was either shot in one week or twenty-seven days. (7) In 1992 this was the first 'B movie' chosen by 'The Library of Congress' to store in its 'National Film Registry'. (8) After this movie caught a bit of color, Tom Neal starred in the murder-mystery, 'Club Havana'; Ann Savage starred in the crime-thriller, 'The Spider'; and Claudia Drake starred in the adventure, 'The Crimson Canary'.

Detour Starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage

Overall I'd say 'Detour' was one amazing film to sit down and watch. And I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves film-noir, captivating thrillers, plus evil looking women and downtrodden musicians.

Ha! Nuff said.


DETOUR (1945) DETOUR (1945) Reviewed by David Lee Andrews on August 27, 2014 Rating: 5
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