And here we are to try out the recent release of the 1945 noir Detour, starring Tom Neal and Ann Savage!
Piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) is in love with singer Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake), who has decided to go out to Hollywood alone. One night, when a patron is a bit more generous in tipping him, Al calls Sue and decides to come out to see her and get married. He starts hitchhiking his way from New York, eventually ending up with Charles Haskell (Edmund MacDonald), who is also going towards California. However, one night when it’s raining and Charles is fast asleep, Al tries to get his help with putting the roof up on the convertible, only for Charles to fall down and hit his head, dying instantly. Worried, Al decides to hide the body and assume Charles’ identity, so he won’t get into trouble. Al ends up picking up another traveler, Vera (Ann Savage), but finds out too late that she knew Charles and tries to blackmail Al. In her greed, she drives him up the wall as she first orders him to sell the car, then changes her mind when she finds out Charles’ rich father is about to die, leading to the two of them quarreling.
Apparently a very low-budget film, this is a wonderful movie. None of the people in this movie were big stars then, and would probably be forgotten if not for this movie. I would definitely say that actress Ann Savage lives up to her last name here, making for a very greedy and dangerous femme fatale as she drags Tom Neal’s character down further and further. While the sets are few, they help create this movie’s atmosphere (of course, during the driving scenes, they do have rear projection screens, but they work well enough here). I had heard of this movie prior to my first viewing, but seeing it is definitely an experience, and one I would definitely recommend!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. It’s long been in the public domain, so most transfers have looked terrible. While I myself haven’t seen the movie prior to this release, I can say, based on the set’s restoration featurette, which showed what they had to work with from some elements, that this movie does indeed look fantastic, and is definitely the best way to view this movie! Detour is one hour, ten minutes in length.
My Rating: 9/10