May 24, 2016
Review #803: Detour.
Tom Neal (Al Roberts), Ann Savage (Vera), Claudia Drake (Sue Harvey), Edmund MacDonald (Charles Haskell Jr), Tim Ryan (Nevada Diner Proprietor), Esther Howard (Holly, Diner Waitress), and Don Brodie (Used Car Salesman) Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (#797 - People on Sunday)
Detour (by varying accounts) was made on a low budget that was filmed in a few weeks with the movie being released by Producers Releasing Corporation, a low-budget studio that made and distributed their own films in the 1940's, making over 100 films before it was acquired by Eagle-Lion Films Inc, which merged into United Artists by the 1950's. But in any case, Detour has thrived over the 71 years since its release, even being added onto the National Film Registry (alongside other noirs previously reviewed on this show, such as The Hitch-Hiker and Shadow of a Doubt). Nearly half way through the movie, we are introduced to Savage's character with a bright theme as she is picked up by the main character on the road. It's a nice scene because the rest of her scenes depict her as a sharp tongued hostile contrast to Neal, with the two exchanging multiple times in banter that gives the movie a sharp kind of edge.
Neal plays the everyman kind of character well, and it's interesting to see him have to adjust to the ever changing nature of his situation, what with a man plopping dead on a rock and all, with narration helping to set the movie up quickly. It's a movie all about guilt, with a hero that seemingly traps himself into a situation that gets more precarious by the minute. The movie ends on a quote the essentially sums up the movie: "Fate, for some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me, for no good reason at all." Neal is easy to relate to along with being easy to watch, with a unique sort of ending (Yes, the Production Code of the time dictated that murderers were to not get away with it...but the movie finds a way to get around it of sorts). Detour, despite only having a few characters to focus on, a low budget, and a short run-time of 67 minutes, manages to rise above b-movie status to become a winner, and I would recommend this film for anyone looking for a film noir to watch.
Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.