I’m in seventh heaven coming into the world of noir very late in the game. The fatalist stories might be depressing to some but they are so honest, brutal, compelling and extremely exciting. Quick penned stories that leave out all the filler and go straight to the killer. Hard hitting and original every single time. I watch one, another is recommended.
Detour came off the back of me watching Gun Crazy (1950) which I liked but didn’t touch the quality of this dark 1945 crime hitchhiking drama.
Taglines – He went searching for love… but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry… Violence… Mystery!
Moody New York jazz club pianist Al Roberts (Tom Neal) plays the keys way into the small hours of the night, pinning for his love Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake). Sue was the club singer but got the stardom bug pull of the big flashing lights of Hollywood, setting off to LA to find fame and fortune. Al on the other hand, stays behind in a brooding smoke cloud of sadness playing the ebony and ivory till dawn.
After a particularly long night, his mood changes, deciding to travel to LA and marry his sweetheart Sue. With a tiny amount of cash for food, he sets off with his trusty thumb as companion, to hitchhike his way across state after state on the 2500 mile journey.
Now this is the opening scene where our Al narrates the story. From the inside of truck stop cafe, he’s the shell of a broken man. Unshaven, dirty, sweaty and his clothes filthy and worn. This guy’s face tells it all as he recounts his journey of pain for us.
That pain, along with other things, comes in the form of steely eyed hitchhiker by the name of Vera, played with venom and as much savage as her namesake can give. Ann Savage gives a just wonderful stellar performance as she goes about making Al Roberts life, ten folds harder than it should be. A tough, streetwise broad, born to intimidate.
What on Earth could’ve happened on his man’s arduous journey to see his love? What’s the story with ole miss savage pants Vera? What’s he doing in the diner looking all the worse for wear?
Well you can find out straight away if you want to watch it. The film has slipped into public domain and has been uploaded to YouTube and other streaming sites.
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, this movie is classed as a B-movie but it’s so much more than that. Unfortunately Edgar didn’t live long enough to see his film get so much love later on in life. Only Ann Savage got to hear the accolades it received years later and her biography was called Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage
Here’s a few Savage-isms to get you in the mood.
Body slam, Vera – “I’d hate to see a fellow as young as you wind up sniffin’ that perfume Arizona hands out free to murderers!”
Uppercut, Vera – “Shut-up, yer makin’ noises like a husband!”
Al Roberts – “How far you goin’?” Ouch, Vera – How far YOU goin’?
Poor Al Roberts – “Vera was just as rotten in the morning as she’d been the night before?”
Demanding, Vera – “We’re outta liquor, Roberts!”
Straight talking, Vera – “Say who do you think you’re talking to – a hick? Listen Mister, I’ve been around, and I know a wrong guy when I see one. What’d you do, kiss him with a wrench?”
Take a detour and make haste to your couch, sit back and watch the movie. Have fun.
Mikey the Wolfman