I think this should be on a must-see list. Ann Savage plays the meanest snake I've ever seen, but with a vulnerability that makes it real. Tom Neal plays the sad sack so well. It turned out that his real life was more dramatic than most films. He went to jail for 6 years for killing his wife. He may not have been the nicest guy in real life.
Essential cinema. The granddaddy of the 'B''s has certainly withstood the test of time to become a fixture in cinema history with a reputation stronger than any of the Oscar nominated films of that year (except perhaps 'Mildred Pierce'). At an economical 69 minutes this film tells one hell of a story and still packs quite the punch. Anne Francis with only 30 min. of screen time makes one of the great femme fatales.
A byword for narrative economy, its impeccably contrived cliches seem not to come from previous efforts in the genre but exclusively the contingent of its own shoestring budget and Ulmer's imagination.
****1/2. Almost a masterpiece. Edgar G. Ulmer is unfortunately one of the most underrated American directors. Look at the fog, listen to the music (a 67 min. musical score), admire the boldness of the out-of-focus shots or the flashbacks in the flashbacks, quiver in front of Ann Savage's viciousness. DETOUR is a fairy tale for adults and Tom Neal waits in vain for someone who'll save him from the claws of the wolf.
Real talk: The men of film-noir are almost always caricatures, even when they're entertaining. That's why I love Tom Neal's Al Roberts, whose nervous energy and earnestness more than sell the wrong-place-wrong-time narrative. At 67 minutes, "Detour" is taut, tense stuff; it's also public domain, so check it out.