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Stylish and gripping, Detour offers further proof that a patsy and a femme fatale often add up to a satisfying story. Read critic reviews

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Detour Photos

Movie Info

In New York, piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) laments when his singer girlfriend, Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake), leaves for Hollywood, Calif. When Al gets some money, he decides to hitchhike to California to join Sue. In Arizona, Al accepts a ride with Charles Haskell (Edmund MacDonald), but during a storm in a freak accident, Haskell is killed. Frightened, Al assumes Haskell's identity and car, but soon comes upon the mysterious Vera (Ann Savage), who seems to know all about his true identity.

Cast & Crew

Tom Neal
Al Roberts
Edmund MacDonald
Charles Haskell Jr
Tim Ryan
Nevada Diner Proprietor
Esther Howard
Holly, Diner Waitress
Pat Gleason
Joe, Trucker at Diner
Don Brodie
Used Car Salesman (uncredited)
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Critic Reviews for Detour

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (1)

  • Tom Neal does extremely well in the long, difficult role of the petrified pianist whose misadventures are told in flashback; while Ann Savage all but blisters the screen with her venoemous, snarling performance as the vicious Vera.

    December 29, 2020 | Full Review…
  • [Detour] is a morbid melodrama, depressing and uninteresting.

    December 29, 2020 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • One of the most poignant and disturbing stories to reach the screen in any year is this one. You're not just looking at a picture; you're right in it and suffering along with the man whose troubles are being told.

    December 29, 2020 | Full Review…
  • The film, told in flashbacks, is held together by a poetically lurid interior monologue and directed, by Edgar G. Ulmer, with harrowingly expressive effects of light and shadow.

    November 26, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Uniformly good performances and some equally good direction and dialog keep the meller moving.

    October 16, 2007 | Full Review…
  • One of the most daring and thoroughly perverse works of art ever to come out of Hollywood.

    October 16, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Detour

  • Mar 20, 2021
    Given the limited resources director Edgar G. Ulmer had this is a true masterwork. Stylistic and dream-like, Ulmer tells a story about unfortunate luck - fate - that resonates for lovers of this kind of cinema. Ann Savage's performance as a sociopathic femme fatale is a landmark for women in movies.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 13, 2014
    Pleasantly short and well-constructed, Detour may not be the most memorable work of film noir, however it is well-acted and features an intriguing plot. It's fun to watch and follow, especially due to Savage's great performance.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2014
    In one strange sequence a piano player, our downtrodden hero, lays down classical chops only the long hairs at Carnegie Hall could appreciate in front of a dive nightclub crowd that's barely awake. Even our hero seems not to care, and there's the charm of this nightmare: when he says or thinks "nobody cares" he's right, like a slow walk to the bathroom to slit your wrists. The dialogue is beautiful, the ending too quick, too pat, but the whole is like a two-year-old's pout dramatised. Visceral stuff.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2013
    Thanks to Edgar G. Ulmer for causing in us suspension of disbelief: unbelievably bad luck had never been so entertaining. Respects go to Ann Savage for being a total menace, like if it was in her nature! 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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