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Detour (1945)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | October 1946 (UK)
Chance events trap hitch-hiker Al Roberts in a tightening net of film noir trouble.

Director:

Edgar G. Ulmer

Writers:

Martin Goldsmith (screenplay), Martin Goldsmith (original story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tom Neal ... Al Roberts
Ann Savage ... Vera
Claudia Drake ... Sue Harvey
Edmund MacDonald ... Charles Haskell Jr
Tim Ryan Tim Ryan ... Nevada Diner Proprietor
Esther Howard ... Diner Waitress
Pat Gleason Pat Gleason ... Joe
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He went searching for love... but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry... Violence... Mystery!

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1946 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El desvío See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter Bogdanovich planned a remake in the mid 70's. See more »

Goofs

When Roberts discovers Vera's dead body on the bed, her eyes move. See more »

Quotes

Vera: I'd hate to see a fellow as young as you wind up sniffin' that perfume Arizona hands out free to murderers!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz Op. 39 in A Flat Major
(uncredited)
Music by Johannes Brahms
Played by Al on the piano (dubbed by Leo Erdody)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Haunting Film Noir
14 March 2004 | by dxiaSee all my reviews

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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