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Detour

Detour (1945)

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No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0

audience

77

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 5,138

My Rating

Movie Info

Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour begins when hitchhiker Al Roberts (Tom Neal) accepts a ride from affable gambler Charles Haskell Jr. (Edmund MacDonald). When Haskell suffers a fatal heart attack, Roberts, afraid that he'll be accused of murder, disposes of the body, takes the man's clothes and wallet, and begins driving the car himself. He picks up beautiful but sullen Vera (Ann Savage), who suddenly breaks the silence by asking, "What did you do with the body?" It turns out that Vera had earlier

Sep 26, 2000

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (0) | DVD (4)

Uniformly good performances and some equally good direction and dialog keep the meller moving.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the most daring and thoroughly perverse works of art ever to come out of Hollywood.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Passion joins with folly to produce termite art par excellence.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The zenith of the B-movie genre.

January 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Ulmer's threadbare bondage-noir masterpiece

October 14, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

You can't take your eyes off the screen, and with the devilish Savage up there you wouldn't dare to.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

an effective emotional rollercoaster that explores the dark side of human nature, and its concise, pessimistic view of the American Dream is still admired today.

June 15, 2007

A film that must be seen to be (dis)believed.

August 31, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

quintessential noir territory

August 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Like great garage rock, however, Ulmer's landmark film ultimately derives its raw, jittery vitality from its very crudeness.

May 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Tawdry, textbook example of classic "B" film noir.

June 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

Strange, paranoid thriller using minimal sets and budget.

January 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Reveals the masochistic strain in film noir characters, who fume bitterly about their bad luck without ever taking responsibility for their actions.

November 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

For some, being outside the system is as natural as walking in the fog.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Detour, for those who have not seen it, may be the greatest achievement in B-movie making in history.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Detour

Doh! Hate it when I think I there is a great movie that I haven't seen - and it turns out I've actually seen it.

Pretty killer z-budget noir. Great femme fatale / nagging sloppy drunk live-in girlfriend. Lesson: fate will crush a wus, everytime.
October 10, 2007
brooklynspo

Super Reviewer

This film, labeled a B-movie noir, has become a cult classic and has been historically preserved for future generations. The film is often downgraded to B-movie status for its short running time and its fast pace, but the film is concrete and tight when it comes to the plot, the calculated action, and suspense. The cast includes unknowns who each give astounding performances filled with wit and danger. The entire film feels like a sad, methodical episode of "The Twilight Zone" and yet remains grounded in real life circumstances. The lead actor, Tom Neal, plays Al, a pianist who is hitchhiking across the country so he can reunite with his girlfriend in Hollywood. They've already said their goodbyes and split, so at least it doesn't start with him being optimistically happy. Things go from bad to worse as Al is picked up by a wealthy man in his car and driven near his destination. The problem is that the man suddenly dies for no apparent reason, and Al fears that he will be charged with the man's murder unless he disappears completely. His ill-chosen decision leads to him being extorted by a bothersome hitchhiker herself, who doesn't adhere to regular noir rules. His tale ends in travesty as he keeps making the wrong decision time and again, and as he continues to run and lets himself get extorted by Vera (Ann Savage) his fate becomes more and more certain. The entire film is one long tirade against Tom as he fights to get to Hollywood, tries to find some semblance of happiness, and yet he can't escape one simple mistake that wasn't even his own fault. The film moves so fast that you're not sure where the action is going to come from next, it's gritty, doesn't play by the rules of many of the previous noir films, and it tells a story that seems old as time but feels as gut wrenching and spell binding as ever.
May 28, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

I, and thousands of others, have been obsessed with Detour since we first saw it. This seedy, NO-budget noir flick is chock full of every type of physical and story telling flaw, yet somehow magic lightning is a captured in a cracked, dirty bottle.

Somehow all this film's limitations are tranformed into strengths with the German expressionist vision of iconic expatriate director Edgar Ulmer, who knows how to make an audience care and transfix. Ulmer turns every moment of this story into something allegorical that any of us flawed humans can relate to. For me, the theme of this film is how people who have every opportunity to escape a self destructive situation, choose to stay and let it play out, to our own destruction.

In the story, honky tonk piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal), broke, is going to follow a singer, Claudia Drake, the woman he loves to LA. Hitchhiking, his driver dies in an accident, Al hides the body and steals the car, never alterting the cops to the tragedy. Going even further down the degradation highway, Al picks up another mysterious hitchhiker, an angry, toxic femme fatale (Ann Savage) with some conection to the dead man. They hole up in a cheap hotel, in mutual self destructive hate, they go down to their horrible doom.

To start with, the cast of limited actors, protagonist Tom Neal and femme fatale Ann Savage, take such a sincere, direct approach to their self inflicted pain. that they are utterly mezerizing. The fact that a fog machine covers up for having zero scenery budget, gives the film a timeless allegorical feel. The flipped negative with the driver's seat consistently on the wrong side gives the film a hallucinogenic, dream quality, the cheesy jazz song 'I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me' has a haunting melody and is appropriately self depracating I could go on, the film is so full of limitations. It is full of memorable classic film noir lines, though. "There oughtta be a law against dames with claws', etc.

In short, don't miss this unforgettable piece of weird, accidental genius, and note: it's available for free online. It would be great if someone found a good print and released a digitally remastered version, but its numerous scratches and pieces of hair on the lens add to Detour's seedy mystique. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.
March 9, 2012
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

Moody noir that, like many others of the time hasn't really aged well. Stuck in the cliches of the genre, depending on huge coincidences and what not. Worth a check for anyone interested in the genre, but nothing you will remember much.
December 4, 2011
DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

    1. Vera: Stop makin' noises like a husband.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
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