Little known classic
Low-budget when low-budget wasn't hip, and better than anyone thought it was at the time, Detour is the first of its kind - a film where the story dramatically outperforms the technical means of its origin.
For a mere thirty thousand dollars (granted those are 1945 figures), and very few locations (many of which simulated via back-projection), we are presented with the illusion of a grim cross-country road trip. It's pure noir, where nothing can go right for our protagonist, Al, who wants to join up with the love of his life in LA. His intentions end up being perverted by events largely beyond his control. It's sad that modern noir - and film in general - has become so gimmicky.
In spite of its budget - or perhaps because of it - the cinematography is imaginative. Yes, it's impossible to hide how cheap it was, but it rarely feels cheap. The worst part is the soundtrack, which is pretty murky, but still actually understandable - though you wouldn't want to be distracted as it would be easy to miss something. The scant 67 minutes of the film actually feel about right, though the ending was perverted by the Hayes Code, changing the meaning of the film in an important way... I can only hope the original ending is on DVD somewhere, or will pop up eventually.
Probably the best parts of the film are the interactions with Vera - one of the most hard-as-nails female characters to ever hit the screen. She may or may not be evil, but the argument can certainly be made. What is without question, though, is that she is a very human character, one who draws out both the good and the bad in Al, though perhaps with not as much success as she hoped.
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