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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Whilst setting up to film a hitchhiking scene, a passing car tried to pick up Ann Savage (made up to look dirty and disheveled), causing laughter in the rest of the crew. See more »
Vera locks Al into the apartment they rent while she goes to sleep. This couldn't be done in real life because for safety reasons (such as fires), there are no front doors that can be locked with a key, as you're unable to come out if you lose the key. See more »
Ever done any hitchhiking? It's not much fun, believe me. Oh yeah, I know all about how it's an education, and how you get to meet a lot of people, and all that. But me, from now on I'll take my education in college, or in PS-62, or I'll send $1.98 in stamps for ten easy lessons.
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One recurrent thought passes through my mind as I watch "Detour." It is that I do not believe a single moment of its story-telling. It isn't because of the incredible coincidences or the bitter irony but because of the simple goodness of the main character. Characters in film noir are not role models or good people placed into bad circumstances. They are bad people who believe that they're good.
The characters in "Double Indemnity," "Body Heat," or "The Talented Mr. Ripley" do not think of themselves as bad people. They believe they are forced into their crimes by the world, which is the essential difference between crime movies and noir. As pointed out by Roger Ebert: "the bad guys in crime movies know they're bad and want to be, while a noir hero thinks he's a good guy who has been ambushed by life."
"Detour" is told through the central character, Al Roberts, who recalls his story as one made through impossible coincidences and horrible luck. But there is something not right about his story. The audience can pick out the incongruities and flaws as soon as they're told. Was Charles Haskell's death really the result of bad luck or simply a murderer trying to convince himself that it was? We wonder if it is possible that a person as innocent as Al says he is can be forced into such immoral activities. However, the explanation is quite clear. Al is retelling the story not as a true confession but as a man reviewing his defense to the police.
Watching the movie, I was reminded of Tanazaki's "The Key," a novel in which the main character deliberately lies to the audience as a way of reaching the story's conclusion. We do not see a real conclusion to "Detour," but we sense that the police will find the same flaws in Al's story as we do. And that is not a fatal form of story-telling but a way of looking into the mind of a true noir character and seeing the darker depths of his soul. That is why film noir is so haunting and why this movie is so definitive in its genre.
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