Detour

Detour, a 1945 noir film starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake and Edmund McDonald and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Tom Neal is Al Roberts a dissatisfied pianist in a small night club in New York and in love with Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake) a singer in the same night club. Sue wants to make it big in Hollywood and leaves him to try her luck there.

Deeply anguished Al decides to reach California by some way, hitch hiking all the way because he had no cash for bus or train. In one such hitch hike he meets Charles Haskell (Edmund McDonald) who is also on his LA to try his luck at the race horses. Al drives during the night when it starts raining and Al decides to close the car top. When he comes around to Charles side to open his side of the car door, he slumps down to the ground and Al finds that he is dead.

In trouble Al decides to dump his body somewhere and take his clothes and money and car and ride out to LA to be with Sue. But a little later he meets another hitch hiker Vera (Ann Savage). Vera had earlier taken a hitch hike with Charles and knew all about him. From then it becomes a cat and mouse game between Vera and Al, with she blackmailing him and he trying to get out of it.

Things get more bitter, but then would not want to release the suspense. Its an out and out noir film throughout, with Al’s character being the moody, depressing one Vera a fighter to the core. Others don’t have any major roles in the film. Ann Savage has acted out of her skin in the movie as a vicious, scheming, diabolical lady out for her pound of flesh. Tom Neal has played his part beautifully as frayed young person caught in a maelstrom not of his making.

It was a much acclaimed and much talked about noir of that era.

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