It isn't a thriller.
A well written and quickly paced film. Features that run under 80 minutes tend to leave me feeling as though the story had been rushed. Not so with Detour. With a perfect first person narrative, well cast actors and a NY to LA Noir story; this film unfolds like a strange little Hitchcock road trip. I look forward to seeing more of Ulmers work. The film now holds a place among my five favorite films of all time.
"Detour" starts as a tragedy about dying romance but turns into a fascinating black comedy about fate. Love eludes Al (Tom Neal), but death haunts him. Movie particularly picks up when vicious Vera (Ann Savage) starts talking. The anti-romance of Al and Vera is the best thing about this solid but uneven movie. Joined by cruel circumstance, these two bicker like a married couple, but they really just hate each other.
I'm not sure if this works as a straight-up thriller, but as a dark comedy and a surreal anxiety dream, it's the tops.
Ulmer earned himself the title of the 'King of Poverty Row' and this ultra-low budget film-noir, apparently shot in just 6 days, has to be one of his finest films. It has a reputation as being one of the best B-movies ever made and certainly deserves that accolade. As the femme fatale the appropriately named Savage is amazing as the vicious Vera who blackmails Neal's hapless pianist, against whom the fates conspire..
Check our out Podcast review of Detour here: http://www.lastpictureshowpodcast.com/2011/11/episode-28-anonymous-lulu-film-school.html
The mother of all B movies and one of the most essential noirs ever made. The grimy, low-class nature of the production only adds to the atmosphere. An absolute essential.
With every vocal and facial expression, Ann Savage as Vera tramples over the fine line between inspired brilliance and calculated lunacy—and I love her for that!
A fantastic film and hardly deserving to be lumped in with the charming clunkiness of a typical B-movie. More than anything, this is distilled noir to the fullest degree. If it is anything film noir tells us again and again, its the ease with which man can blithely march down the path to self-destruction.