Friday, October 21, 2011

Detour (1945)

The Worst 'Must See' Film Noir

- The 1945 B-movie Detour has a reputation for being a "must see" film noir. Detour certainly is a "must see" film noir – but that does not mean that the film is of great quality. Director Edgar G. Ulmer roughly latched this one together in a way that made a bad film pretty good.

The noir genre is especially known for being dark and rough around the edges but Detour just looks coarse, the story has some specifically exciting twists but is packed with some really bad dialogue, actors Tom Neal and Ann Savage cannot expand beyond their three key expressions but the audience is contented to go along with them anyway. However, rather than being one of those "so bad it's good" films (entertaining precisely because of a film's incredible ridiculousness and/or shoddy filmmaking) Detour is more aptly labeled as a "bad movie but good noir," an entertaining "must see" film noir because it features such an engaging film noir world. This heavy noir atmosphere is undoubtedly the film's greatest strength. Submerging shadows, creepy mood, themes of hopelessness and despair- Detour is archetypal film noir in every way: the innocent little man driven by love, propelled off course by death and blackmail, and ultimately ruled by a toxic woman and the inescapable hand of fate.

Dark in its visuals and discerning message, Detour embodies the entire genre in 67 memorable minutes. An unfiltered portrait of the film noir world; Detour is not exactly an exemplary film but it is a quintessential film noir nonetheless - perhaps the worst "must see" movie in the film noir genre.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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