Sunday Matinee: Detour

As Criterion counts down to it’s April 8 launch of their new streaming service this week’s movie of the week happens to be an old Sunday Matinee, The Fabulous Baron Munchausen so I’m going back a week to last week’s movie of the week the excellent 1945 film noir Detour.

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer the follows poor piano player Al Roberts (Tom Neal) is a disheveled burned out looking person. He gets dropped off at a diner where he hears a particular song. He flashes back to how he got to where he is.

Roberts decides to go his girlfriend in California and marry her. He starts hitchhiking across the country and gets picked up by Charles Haskell, Jr. (Edmund MacDonald). After they’ve been driving together for awhile they switch and Roberts continues driving into the night while Haskell sleeps. The rain comes and Roberts stops to put the top up on the car but finds himself unable to rouse Haskell. When he opens the passenger car door Haskell falls out and hits a rock. Haskell is dead.

Panicking, Roberts drags the body off the road and takes Haskell’s id. He continues driving west until he runs into Vera (Ann Savage) who realizes that Roberts is not Haskell and blackmails Roberts into giving her Haskell’s money and then makes him sell the car and split the profits. She then gets him to rent an apartment and pretend to be a married couple. Then Vera leans that Haskell’s father is rich and dying and wants Roberts to impersonate Haskell to get the inheritance. Roberts is at his ends.

The film is very stylish and the story is very dark. The film is in public domain so it’s available anywhere to watch but there are a lot of crappy looking copies out thee. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences did a 4k restoration of the film and the Criterion Collection just released it on blu-ray and DVD this month.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.