Detour (1945)

US 2019 Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition - region A

Maybe The Best Film Noir ever made ?

German 2013 Koch Media DVD edition - region 2

Ann Savage and Tom Neal

Meet The Most Miserable Man Alive - Al Roberts, played by ....

The Great Tom Neal


Poster and Postcard

Yes, at last there was a decent quality edition on DVD of this minimalistic Cult
Classic Film Noir, and then an edition from Germany Koch Media (and in their
fine and ambitious Film Noir Collection from Koch Media.
Before this i had only seen Detour in abominable US public domain cheapskate
companies editions and on Swedish TV in another massacre copy showing
(read more about this rare showing at the bottom of this text).

The Koch Media edition DVD is supposed to be restored but did have some
moments of a jumping picture and scratches during the 2nd part when the
"lover couple" has reached Los Angeles. But, even though this edition had
a much better picture quality than the other DVD's of this film i've seen.

Then in 2019 US Criterion Collection released a Tip Top Blu-ray edition
from a 2018 4K restoration. Now i'm awaiting the 4K UHD bluray and with more
extras including an audio commentary.

The Criterion Collection presents the film in 4:3 ratio 1.37:1 in black & white
with English audio LPCM 1 mono - region A
Extras: Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off Screen - a 2004 documentary 76 minutes
Interview with Noah Isenberg (21 minutes, 2018), Restoring Detour (11
minutes, 2018), Trailer and a Booklet.
I would've liked an audio commentary and much more info about the two
stars of the film, Ann Savage and Tom Neal

Above: The Happy Times


Detour - Minimalistic micro bbudget Film Noir Masterpiece

The Film starts with a shabby hitch-hiker arriving to Reno, Nevada and
entering a road-side joint to eat. The man is grumpy and with a volatile
temper, close to hysterics, and he's annoying the customers when he reacts
violently to a tune played on the jukebox.
The tune makes him remember his girlfriend and we're plunged into the ...
Flashback
, a staple in the 1940's crime and Film Noir genre.

I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me

The Man, our Hero doomed by the malignant forces of this unjust world,
the pessimistical NY piano lounge player Al Roberts, played by a brilliant
Tom Neal, slaves as piano player in a 2nd grade night-club in a duo with his
singer girlfriend Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake). We get to see close-ups of
Al's tense, sweaty and unhappy face, and he show us how annoyed he's
over his situation. His talent is much too big to waste on the uninterested
and unsophisticated clientele of the flea-bag night-club, throwing his pearls
before swine.

Nobody, NO ONE has looked more miserable and bitter than Tom Neal in
Detour
, no-one. He and the whole movie just vibrates with discomfort and
looser spirit and it's delightful, magnific and the stuff Film Noir are made of.
Rise up all Brethren of Misfortune! Tom Neal's pitiful Al Roberts show us
there's at least one guy that's more miserable than anyone of us, and united
we stand stro ...... eeeh, weak.

My advice to all male readers out there:

A tip to get beautiful women attracted to you - choose your male role models
carefully. My Top 3 male role-models are 1. Tom Neal's Al Roberts
2. Seinfeld's George Constanza and 3. Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers.
All very secure, strong and virile men that women flock around.
Me a bachelor .... Noooo ...

The Koch Media Film Noir Collection (No. 13) DVD edition presents the film
in 4:3 ratio 1.33:1, black & white, region 2 and with a Booklet with a text
written in german by Thomas Willman (no english) (see pic above)
The text is attached to the DVD cover and with a faulty spelling of Edgar.
There is also a picture gallery in the extras

Edgar Georg Ulmer 1904-1972 - The Master of B studio Noir Melodrama

Born in Austria Edgar came to the US in the 20's and worked with Master
Murnau on his film masterpiece Sunrise in 1927. He directed The Black Cat
in 1934 and then lots of B Studio films for i.a. PRC (Producers Releasing
Corporation) with Detour in 1945. He also made the über great melodrama
" The Strange Woman" in 1946 with Hedy Lamarr at her very best

..................................................................

The Story:

If Al feel miserable this was still the Happy times, because when his
singing girlfriend Sue decides to achieve her dream and move to LA to
be an actress, Al soon is following and then he's in for some bad times,
and bad as in BAD. Without money he's into hitch-hiking over the
continent and he's picked up by the travelling salesman Charles Haskell
Everything looks cool for a while, a short while, because the malignant
forces strike and the salesman dies in a freak accident. What to do ? Al
ponders his options and make the wrong choice, he takes the car and
continue on his way to California.

Maybe, just maybe everything would've worked out for him, but IF not.
IF he hadn't picked up that red-haired female hitch-hiker. Vera - The
Hitch-Hiker From Hell, played in a sensational and un-forgettable
unique performance by Ann Savage.

Quite possibly the most despicable female in movie history

Ann Savage as the extremely unlikeable Vera gives us a One of a kind
actress performance as a shabby Femme Fatale, dusty from the road.
She's got a shrieky voice and seems to be in a constant rage and close
to hysterics and her speech resembles the rattle from a machine gun.
"I don't like your attitude" she warns Al and bosses him around and
besides these manners she's also Rotten to the Core and lures Al into
being her partner in crime.

"But Vera, unfortunately, was just as rotten in the morning
as she'd been the night before
"

I don't think i've seen anything like this in movies before, besides
possibly Sandra Bernhard in King of Comedy.
Yes, i'm Soft i know (and it get worse when you get older, i promise)
but i can't help feeling some tenderness for Ann Savage's despicable
Vera, so shabby, so unwanted, lonely, bitter and unattractive (when
dusty that is, and when leering) without any redeeming quality what
so ever. I felt sorry for her. (Unattractive ? Well, naturally Ann Savage
wasn't unattractive but the film team smeared her up to look shabby?)

Vera, The Hitch-Hiker From Hell

Poor Al's decision to be a nice guy and give that shabby woman a lift
results in some hellish days together in a unique low budget minimalistic
film noir almost experimental in style and for it's time. The weak and
depressed Al becomes easy prey for the aggressive Vera, and this also
due to Al's not very success-generating motto:

"No matter what you do, no matter what where you turn, fate sticks
out its foot to trip you"

Both Ann Savage and Tom Neal are Mindblowing with unforgettable
performances. Neal seems to sweat despair and tragically, maybe due
to the malignant forces that rules the fictive Al Roberts world, Neal
went to prison in the real world after the murder of his wife and the
fiction became reality.

The script and story was written by Martin Goldsmith and Martin
Mooney but do look like some short story or novel written by crime
master writer of noir, Cornell Woolrich. Like Francis M. Nevins, Jr.
wrote, Woolrich's influence so permeated the 1940's Film Noir that
some excellent films from that period in time, like Edgar G. Ulmers
lowbudgeted masterpiece Detour from PRC (1945), seem to be a
Woolrich movie even though he has nothing to do with them.

Above: Great sleeve but an abominable edition ...
terrible quality, awful

The DVD above was a US copy which i sold for a short while
when i had my DVD shop some 20 years ago but the transfer
was awful with so much scratches you could hardly see what
happened.

Surprisingly also the transfer Swedish Television showed
in 2010 was almost as bad with scratches a plenty.
Some parts of this text was written in 2010 after watching
it on TV, and then i wondered why there haven't been
a serious restoration of Detour to a DVD or Blu-ray as the
film are one of the best films ever made.

Well, now this German 2013 Koch Media DVD edition exist
and it's OK - but far from perfect. It would've been interesting
to know how this transfer was made and from which source,
but no such info.
There should be a decent 35 mm copy of Detour in some film
archive somewhere around the world, or in some film collectors
vault, and maybe a perfect source for a "real" restoration will
show up in the future ?

Above: Booklet from the Criterion Collection Blu-ray

And YES, finally, in 2019 Criterion Collection released
Detour on a fine Blu-ray after a 4K digital restoration.
Belgian 35 millimeter nitrate print was found to work on

The Swedish Cultural Darkness

Swedish TV, SVT, surprised me and suddenly showed
Detour, coupled with Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, in the
summer of 2008, and again the 15th of September 2010.
Normally swedish TV only shows stupid Hollywood
comedies and occasionally some boring artmovie made
in France with middle-age pretentious bores sitting around
a table drinking wine and gabbing incessantly.

Detour, this claustrophobic pitch-black lowbudget noir
crime-drama from PRC, a Powerty Row studio is considered
to be something of an epitome for the Film Noir genre, the
ultimate in desperation on film and filmwriters and cine-
philes worldwide (but not in Sweden) hail it as one of the,
if not the Best low budget films ever made.
But, in Sweden however ....

Swedish cretins strikes again ...

Above you can see what our distinguished film critics
from our biggest daily papers Aftonbladet and SvD thought
about Detour in their grotesque short-reviews when shown
in TV - 3 out of 5.

..........................................................................................

In Swedish below: Filmpajasskandalen

Suck..... ja, ni ser själva vad filmtips-lallarna på Aftonbladet
och SvD gav den för betyg i sina groteska kortrecensioner i
tidningarnas TV filmtips (Resident Evil Extinction fick t ex 2
i jmf och anses alltså vara nästan lika bra).
Ungefär som när någon gammal narr på Expressen en gång
gav Hitchcock's Psycho en 3a och en Hasse/Tage rulle, jag
tror det var infantila "Mannen som slutade röka" en 4a.

När en film betraktas som en Absolut Klassiker av flera
generationer av filmvetare, filmskribenter och filmälskare
World Wide måste självklart betygsättningen bli annorlunda
än en 3a , om det skall finnas någon rim och reson, om någon
människa överhuvudtaget skall bemöda sig om att läsa läsa
dessa monumentalt inkompetenta klåpares filmtips

 

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