Detour (1945)   2 comments


happy detour

Piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) loves singer Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake) but they’ve both grown tired of their thankless gig in a small New York nightclub. Sue gets a chance to go west and make it big in Hollywood. Roberts soon follows, hitch-hiking across the country to see her. The trip drags along until he meets Charles Haskell, Jr., a rich man in a big car who’s tired of doing all the driving. Roberts’ happiness turns to dread when Haskell dies accidentally. He fears the police will accuse him of murder so he hides the body and drives on. Later, he picks up hitch-hiker Vera, played by Ann Savage, and assumes the dead man’s name. Vera, who had met the man earlier, knows Roberts is lying and blackmails him into continuing on to Los Angeles and stealing his identity permanently in order to gain a large inheritance. Meanwhile, all Roberts wants is to get to L.A. to see his girl. As Roberts and Vera get closer to her ignominious goal, their mutual hatred rises to the surface and she, too dies accidentally. Now Roberts roams the country aimlessly, shut off forever from decent society and the woman he loves.

detour car

Detour captures perfectly the noir belief that nice guys do finish last. Despite Al Roberts implied goodness and his sincere love for Sue, the gods conspire to foil him at every turn. Just taking a ride from a stranger has sealed his fate. The performances by Tom Neal and Ann Savage illustrate the fatalistic view of the film. Resolved to his dismal future his voice-over narrates. ”That’s life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.”
Filmed by Edgar G. Ulmer on a budget of only $30,000, Detour has attained a cult following thanks to its stark viewpoint and spare acting. The movie became the first Hollywood noir inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1992

sad detour

Posted May 13, 2014 by Kerry Fristoe in Reviews

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2 responses to “Detour (1945)

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  1. I love the story that Anne Savage faded to obscurity to such a point that sometime in the mid-2000s (I believe) she was attending a screening of this film and during a Q & A, someone asked what happened to Anne Savage, and Savage raised her hand and said “I’m here” and that incident led to being cast in her last film “Wendy and Lucy” or maybe it “My Winnipeg.” This is definitely a good film and I like that Ann Savage’s character is just outright bratty and malicious. The other film noir women try so hard to be deceptive and seductive and double-crossing, it’s the kind of stuff you see parodied. Anne Savage is just like “uh huh, yeah, i’m blackmailing you, this is happening”

    I always figured he could have at least got a message across to his girlfriend if he really wanted to. The downside is she might reject him, and maybe he was too afraid of that to do the sensible thing

    By the way, you write a bunch of stuff for blog-a-thon’s. When and where do those come up.

    • I never knew that about Ann Savage. She’s definitely out front with her nastiness. I guess he figured he had nothing to offer her which was dopey. I agree. I see tweets about blogathons sometimes. I have been asked to participate more than once, but mostly I google blogathons if I feel like doing one. Sometimes ones pop up from years ago, but sometimes new ones appear and if I like the concept I ask to join in. It’s a deadline which I need sometimes.

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