Detour, screenplay and original story by Martin Goldsmith
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Detour is considered to be one of the best films ever made.
It is included on the TIME Magazine list- that has been updated to contain 20 new entries- of All- TIME 100 Movies:
Tom Neal is excellent in the main role, that of Al Roberts.
Ann Savage is Vera and Claudia Drake plays Sue Harvey.
The story by Martin Goldsmith is simple but that just helps with the overall effect.
Edgar Ulmer is the director that has a very good eye and has created some powerful scenes.
The film is black and white, produced in 1945 with very good lighting that concentrates on the face of the protagonist in many scenes.
Detour is included in the ten part documentary that explains so much about the subjects, stars, studios and so much more:
- American Cinema
- There are parts dedicated to: The Studio System, Film Noir, Western, the Stars and more
If I remember correctly, the ending of this film had to be changed.
The censors had a crucial role and they stopped films that did not pass their often retrograde angle on pictures.
Which reminds me of a scene in Hitchcock, where the famous director is played by Anthony Hopkins and has problems avoiding the censorship of Psycho.
Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock, in a classic book about Hollywood, directors, writers, stars and the making of films, the famous “film author” is mentioned and appreciated up to a point and then his regress is explained.
That mesmerizing book is:
- Adventures in The Screen Trade by William Goldman
The author explains that the concept of “films by an author” is wrong and it is foolish to attribute all the credit to the director.
There are at least a few other major players that contribute to the success of a movie:
- Actors, writers, producers, sometimes the music composer- Chariots of Fire is mentioned as an example…special effects- Jaws is relevant…so we cannot talk fairly about a one man show when the subject is movies
The end of Detour was not convincing for the censors because it did not seem to have a moral message.
On the contrary, it looked somewhat ambiguous and the “moral authority” rejected this idea- if I have this recollection right.
At the start of the film, we see Al Roberts in a fast food restaurant and he is really unhappy and aggressive.
He starts telling his story and throughout the movie he will be the voice of a narrator that explains much of what happens.
Al Roberts was a piano player in love with a singer named Vera and they both played in the same band on the East Coast.
Even if the singer loves Al- which is a debatable proposition for true love would require a different attitude- she has some plans of going away.
Unsatisfied with the way her singing career is stalling, Vera wants to try a different way to success of the West Coast.
Al is against the idea, for he wants to marry the woman he loves and besides, he believes it is next to impossible to make it in Los Angeles.
Vera is upset that her lover does not believe in her talent- but he does- and moves away anyway, without a better perspective to begin with.
After a while, the hero calls the woman he still loves and declares that he is coming, by train, bus or “magic carpet”.
Only things happen on the way and the terrible bad luck that this man has is really startling and his situation becomes impossible.
I will stop here to avoid any spoilers.
Since the copyright has expired, this film can be watched legally here: