For Reel

Detour (1945)
November 15, 2014, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
5 Stars
DetourA true miracle of filmmaking with paltry resources, Detour amplifies the darkest thematic characteristics of film noir–the fatalism, the depravity, the sadism–and creates as hellish a nightmare as has ever been put to screen. The down-on-his-luck Al Roberts (Tom Neal) narrates a story in which he is involved with several deaths, extortion, and the relentless berating of a mercilessly cruel hitch-hiker (Ann Savage). Reflecting on his string of bad luck, he grumbles, “That’s life. Whichever way you turn, fate sticks out a foot to trip you.” Director Edgar G. Ulmer’s limited budget aids the nightmarish quality of the picture–the cheap sets (much of the film takes place in a car with poor rear projection) and continuity errors feel uncanny, especially with the inventive camera angles and radical lighting choices complimenting them. One might imagine that Detour in the hands of a studio director and a big budget might have been a disaster, but the gritty atmosphere that Ulmer brings to the material is the perfect fit.

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