Detour (1945)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Written by Martin Goldsmith

Here we go, this is what I’m talking about. You see, involving myself in a marathon like this affords me the opportunity and ability to delve into the genre as far as I choose. Now, from my outsiders view, which may be warped, a film like Detour seems obscure and a mysterious find. It is classified on Netflix under a broad title of Film Noir Collection: Detour, and the quality of the film was marginal at best. But while I could readily complain about this, it in fact just added to the charm and attraction of the film. That being said, there were aspects which definitely made the film show its true character. This is a small budget release type film if ever I saw one.

The plot is overly simple and the runtime is hardly long enough to call the film a film. But the story is one of the more enjoyable elements of the film. With only two characters to follow, we are able to connect much more easily with them. Roberts (Tom Neal) is a good guy, he just finds himself in one hell of a bind. Then there is Vera (Ann Savage), the vagrant whom Roberts picks up on his way to LA and away from the law. The character is good, it fits the story the way it should. I have to edge on the performance by Savage. At time I was completely distracted and turned off by her over the top delivery. But looking back I can see the charm in it as well.

I started out with a film like The Night of the Hunter, a much more well known and heralded film, and one which featured some recognizable faces, at least to me. So with the quick evolution into a smaller film like this, I think I have done a pretty good job of preparing myself for what is to come. As I continue to watch noir, I continue to find that it is often the story that is the major attracting point for me. Everything else around it can make it great, or drag it down to average, but it always seems to start at right about good simply because I like a good crime drama more often than not. In the case of Detour, I think it comes out in the wash with a bump in a pretty darn good story, and a knock in the performance of Savage.

*** – Good

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