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Film Studies 101
Feature
Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies
Master a genre in just a handful of films

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Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies | Detour (1945)
Detour (1945)

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Cast: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake
Tagline: “He went searching for love... but Fate forced a DETOUR to Revelry... Violence... Mystery!”

Shot in six days, working on a budget that wouldn’t cover the craft services bill of a studio pic and running at just over an hour, Austrian émigré Edgar G. Ulmer made a little go a long way in this superior Poverty Row thriller. Tom Neal plays Al, a nightclub musician who hitchhikes his way to his girlfriend in California. When he gets there, there’s one dead driver (Charles Haskell Jr.) behind him and the dead man’s money and ID in his pocket. Cue the femme fatale, Ann Savage, who demands he use his new identity to pick up the dead man’s inheritance and threatens to call the cops if he doesn’t. In true antihero style, Al proclaims his innocence throughout, even as the bodies mount up. Some of the sexual politics - “I was tussling with the most dangerous animal in the world: a woman” – probably won’t feature in too many feminist quote books, but then this acid noir wasn’t designed to show the sunnier side of life. It’s as bleak as the sun-scorched desert Al makes his way across towards his Hayes Code-enforced end. A cult classic.

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