stars] Detour (1945) on IMDb [Amazon Link]

A postwar classic film noir from director Edgar G. Ulmer. If you like film noir, you should probably see it. I just didn't like it very much. We spent a Netflix pick on it, but it's also available for free viewing here, if you're so inclined.

Tom Neal plays Al, a piano player in a New York nightspot. He's in love with Sue, the singer. But she heads off to find success in L.A. After a bit, he decides he should follow her. Unfortunately, his funds are low, so he uses his thumb. He gets picked up by Haskell, a slimy blowhard in a big convertible; unfortunately, Haskell winds up accidentally dead.

Al, fearing that the authorities will pin Haskell's death on him, skedaddles with Haskell's car and cash. Mistake! But then he makes an even bigger one: he picks up a nasty dame named Vera, who quickly digs her claws into Al's situation. It doesn't work out well for either of them.

The very implausibility of the plot has led many to speculate that Al, as the narrator, is an unreliable reporter of what actually happened. I think it's just a symptom of a dashed-off script and whatever chemicals were influencing this particular segment of the filmmaker community at the time.

The film is uniformly bleak, and none of the characters is remotely sympathetic. If you (like me) come into a flick with a "why should I care" attitude, I don't think you'll find a very good answer here. On the other hand, if you're a fan of loopy hard-boiled dialog, there's plenty.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:33 AM EDT