A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
In flashback, New York nightclub pianist Al Roberts hitchhikes to Hollywood to join his girl Sue. On a rainy night, the sleazy gambler he's riding with mysteriously dies; afraid of the police, Roberts takes the man's identity. But thanks to a blackmailing dame, Roberts' every move plunges him deeper into trouble... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
To save on production costs, Leo Erdody, the film's composer, was recorded and filmed playing two classical piano pieces, Frédéric Chopin's "Waltz No. 7 in C# minor" and Johannes Brahms' "Waltz Op. 39 no. 15 in Ab Major" as a favor for director Edgar G. Ulmer. Al Roberts (Tom Neal) "performs" the piano pieces during scenes set in the "Break of Dawn" nightclub. Erdödy's hands, in close-up, can be seen playing the Brahms. See more »
When Al Roberts is dragging Charles Haskell Jr's body from the car into the bushes on the side of the road, you can see the rain making apparatus shooting water up into the air to generate the rain. See more »
Life's like a ball game. You gotta take a swing at whatever comes along before you find it's the ninth inning.
You read that somewhere...
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It's a tribute to Edgar Ulmer that "Detour", made for about thirty thousand dollars, still keeps an interest with new fans who discover it. According to some comments, "Detour" has not been seen in this country in quite a while, but we recall the first time we saw it when it was presented at New York's Film Forum as part of a Film Noir festival in the late eighties. The copy shown recently on TCM has a poor quality, while the print we saw at Film Forum was in better condition.
What makes "Detour" a must see, is the clever way its narrative unfolds on the screen. Al and Sue are seen first in the small bistro he plays the piano and she sings, in Manhattan. Sue sings a happy rendition of "I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me", and Al shows he can improvise on a theme by Chopin as he jazzes it up. When Sue decides to pack it and move to L.A., Tom promises he'll follow. The tragic mistake he makes is to intent crossing the country hitchhiking. Even in the forties, it's a miracle he made it alive!
In Arizona Al meets the kind Charles Haskell, who happens to be going all the way to L.A. and offers him a ride. The two men develop an easy friendship until the point when Haskell dies of an apparent heart attack. Al disposes of the body and keeps going, assuming now, Haskell's persona. At the nearest gas station he sees a pretty woman, Vera, who appears is hitchhiking, and offers her a ride. This will prove to be his biggest mistake.
Vera turned out to be Al's worst nightmare. She knows Al is not Haskell since she, herself, knows the man. Al ends up a virtual prisoner hiding in the apartment they have rented in Hollywood. He can't escape. When Vera realizes there's a lot of money to be made by having Al pretend to impersonate the dead Haskell, he refuses. She threatens to call the police and he is left on the other room pulling the telephone cord...
The film works because all the elements are in place in this satisfying 67 minutes work and because of the great performances Mr. Ulmer got out of Tom Neal and Ann Savage. Edmund MacDonald and Claudia Drake played Haskell and Sue.
"Detour" was shot in two sets and it shows. It's a small film that doesn't pretend what it's not, and that's basically why audiences seem to like it as it's discovered.
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