Detour


1h 8m 1946
Detour

Brief Synopsis

A hitchhiker takes on a dead man's identity only to face blackmail by an unscrupulous woman.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Nov 30, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
PRC Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale by Martin Goldsmith (New York, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Al Roberts becomes extremely upset when a customer in the diner where he is having a cup of coffee plays a song that reminds him of his past: In New York, Al, a piano player in a nightclub, is in love with singer Sue Harvey. Al wants to marry Sue, but although she loves him, Sue declares that she intends to seek fame in Hollywood first. Some time later, Al is given a large tip and calls Sue in California. Learning that she is working as a waitress, he impulsively decides to hitchhike west to join her. In Arizona, a man named Charles Haskell offers him a ride to Los Angeles. When Al notices deep scratches on Haskell's hand, Haskell explains that a woman to whom he had given a ride scratched him after he made a sexual advance. That night, while Al is driving, it starts to rain. Al is unable to rouse the sleeping Haskell and stops to raise the top on the convertible. When Al opens the passenger-side door, Haskell falls out and hits his head. Convinced that he will be blamed for Haskell's death, Al hides the body and steals his money and identification. After he crosses the California state line, an exhausted Al checks into a motel to sleep. On the road again, Al offers a ride to a woman hitchhiker, who tells him her name is Vera. Once they are under way, Vera asks Al what he has done with Haskell's body, revealing that she was the woman who scratched his hand. Threatening to expose Al to the police, Vera forces him to take an apartment and sell Haskell's car. Before the sale can be completed, however, Vera tells Al that Haskell's millionaire father is dying and suggests that he impersonate Haskell. Al refuses, pointing out that he knows nothing about Haskell's family or his life, but Vera continues to insist. That night, in their apartment, Vera and Al get very drunk and quarrel. To prevent Al from telephoning for help, Vera takes the phone in the bedroom and drunkenly falls on the bed with the phone cord wrapped around her neck. From outside the bedroom door, Al pulls on the cord, accidentally killing Vera. Al knows that the police will never believe his story and sneaks out of town. He can never return to New York or to Los Angeles and Sue. Instead, he must keep moving, knowing that someday he will be caught.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Nov 30, 1946
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
PRC Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Producers Releasing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale by Martin Goldsmith (New York, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 8m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Detour (1945) - Detour


It might be extremely low-budget and it might not have any major stars but Detour (1945), with a brisk running time of only 68 minutes, may be the most bleak and nihilistic film noir thriller ever made....and that's a compliment. The film has long enjoyed a cult reputation in Europe and among American film buffs for its existential tone. The main character, Al Roberts (Tom Neal), is an unemployed piano player intent on hitchhiking from New York to Hollywood where his girlfriend is a singer. When he reaches Arizona, he thumbs a ride with a dissipated gambler who relates a disturbing tale about a female hitchhiker he recently encountered. From that point on, the film travels quickly into nightmare territory with border crossings into paranoia, death and despair.

Edgar G. Ulmer, one of the most resourceful and artistic directors working in low-budget films, shot Detour in six days with a cast of seven actors, one outdoor desert location, and only six minimally furnished indoor sets. New York City is represented by a streetlamp on a fog-enshrouded sound stage while Los Angeles is symbolized by a drive-in restaurant and a used car lot. As for the script, Ulmer pared it down from a 144-page screenplay by Martin Goldsmith (the brother-in-law of Anthony Quinn) and captured a hard-boiled quality that actually surpasses the thrillers of James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice) and Cornell Woolrich (The Bride Wore Black) in terms of toughness.

Ulmer also deserves credit for casting Ann Savage as the venomous Vera. Looking like a bird-of-prey and spitting out bitter one-liners such as "If I'm hanged all they'd be doing is rushing it," Savage may be the most frightening femme fatale in the history of film noir. Originally signed by Columbia while they were in the process of transforming Rita Hayworth into their "Love Goddess," Savage was groomed for glamour roles but eventually ended up in grade-B fare like Klondike Kate (1943) and Pygmy Island (1950). If it wasn't for Detour, she'd probably be forgotten now.

In regards to Tom Neal, his real life story is probably even sadder and stranger than the luckless character he plays in Detour. From his involvement with Inez Martin, the mistress of the notorious racketeer Aaron Rothstein, to his three unhappy marriages, Neal's off-screen life would probably make a sordid bestseller. He made tabloid headlines in 1951 when he got into a brutal fistfight with Franchot Tone over Barbara Payton. Tone was beaten unconscious and rushed to the hospital with a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, and brain concussion. Neal's Hollywood career collapsed after that so he tried to eke out a living as a gardener. His attempt at a landscaping business ended in bankruptcy and in 1965 he made the headlines again. This time he was accused of murdering his third wife, Gail Evatt, with a .45 caliber pistol. Neal was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was paroled in 1972 but was found dead in his North Hollywood apartment eight months later. Cause of death: congestive heart failure.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Producer: Leon Fromkess, Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith, Martin Mooney (uncredited), based on the novel by Martin Goldsmith
Cinematography: Benjamin H. Kline
Editor: George McGuire
Art Direction: William A. Calihan, Jr., Edward C. Jewell
Music: Leo Erdody
Cast: Tom Neal (Al Roberts), Ann Savage (Vera), Claudia Drake (Sue Harvey), Edmund MacDonald (Charles Haskell Jr.), Tim Ryan (Diner Proprieter).
BW-68m.

by Jeff Stafford
Detour (1945) - Detour

Detour (1945) - Detour

It might be extremely low-budget and it might not have any major stars but Detour (1945), with a brisk running time of only 68 minutes, may be the most bleak and nihilistic film noir thriller ever made....and that's a compliment. The film has long enjoyed a cult reputation in Europe and among American film buffs for its existential tone. The main character, Al Roberts (Tom Neal), is an unemployed piano player intent on hitchhiking from New York to Hollywood where his girlfriend is a singer. When he reaches Arizona, he thumbs a ride with a dissipated gambler who relates a disturbing tale about a female hitchhiker he recently encountered. From that point on, the film travels quickly into nightmare territory with border crossings into paranoia, death and despair. Edgar G. Ulmer, one of the most resourceful and artistic directors working in low-budget films, shot Detour in six days with a cast of seven actors, one outdoor desert location, and only six minimally furnished indoor sets. New York City is represented by a streetlamp on a fog-enshrouded sound stage while Los Angeles is symbolized by a drive-in restaurant and a used car lot. As for the script, Ulmer pared it down from a 144-page screenplay by Martin Goldsmith (the brother-in-law of Anthony Quinn) and captured a hard-boiled quality that actually surpasses the thrillers of James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice) and Cornell Woolrich (The Bride Wore Black) in terms of toughness. Ulmer also deserves credit for casting Ann Savage as the venomous Vera. Looking like a bird-of-prey and spitting out bitter one-liners such as "If I'm hanged all they'd be doing is rushing it," Savage may be the most frightening femme fatale in the history of film noir. Originally signed by Columbia while they were in the process of transforming Rita Hayworth into their "Love Goddess," Savage was groomed for glamour roles but eventually ended up in grade-B fare like Klondike Kate (1943) and Pygmy Island (1950). If it wasn't for Detour, she'd probably be forgotten now. In regards to Tom Neal, his real life story is probably even sadder and stranger than the luckless character he plays in Detour. From his involvement with Inez Martin, the mistress of the notorious racketeer Aaron Rothstein, to his three unhappy marriages, Neal's off-screen life would probably make a sordid bestseller. He made tabloid headlines in 1951 when he got into a brutal fistfight with Franchot Tone over Barbara Payton. Tone was beaten unconscious and rushed to the hospital with a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, and brain concussion. Neal's Hollywood career collapsed after that so he tried to eke out a living as a gardener. His attempt at a landscaping business ended in bankruptcy and in 1965 he made the headlines again. This time he was accused of murdering his third wife, Gail Evatt, with a .45 caliber pistol. Neal was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was paroled in 1972 but was found dead in his North Hollywood apartment eight months later. Cause of death: congestive heart failure. Director: Edgar G. Ulmer Producer: Leon Fromkess, Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith, Martin Mooney (uncredited), based on the novel by Martin Goldsmith Cinematography: Benjamin H. Kline Editor: George McGuire Art Direction: William A. Calihan, Jr., Edward C. Jewell Music: Leo Erdody Cast: Tom Neal (Al Roberts), Ann Savage (Vera), Claudia Drake (Sue Harvey), Edmund MacDonald (Charles Haskell Jr.), Tim Ryan (Diner Proprieter). BW-68m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Just some paper with a lot of germs on it.
- Al Roberts
That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.
- Al Roberts
Yes. Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no good reason at all.
- Al Roberts
It wasn't much of a club really. You know the kind. A joint where you could have a sandwich and a few drinks and run interference for your girl on the dance floor.
- Al Roberts
I was tussling with the most dangerous in the world, a woman.
- Charles Haskell Jr.

Trivia

Was the first "poverty row" movie chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation, in 1993.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992.

Shot in six days in mostly two locations: the hotel room and the car in front of a rear projection screen.

Notes

Contemporary reviews noted the effective atmosphere that director Edgar G. Ulmer achieved on a limited budget, and the film is considered by many modern sources to be a major example of film noir. According to modern sources, the film was shot in six days for a budget of $30,000. In the late 1950s, star Tom Neal was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife and spent several years in prison. Detour was remade in 1992 by Wade Williams and starred Tom Neal, Jr.

Miscellaneous Notes

re-released in Paris September 26, 1990.

Released in United States 1990 (Shown at Deauville Film Festival August 31 - September 9, 1990.)

Released in United States Fall November 30, 1945

Limited re-release in United States November 30, 2018

Released in United States 1990

Shown at Deauville Film Festival August 31 - September 9, 1990.

Completed shooting June 30, 1945.

Selected in 1992 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States Fall November 30, 1945

Limited re-release in United States November 30, 2018 (New York)