A man hitch-hikes his way across the US to rejoin his lost love in Hollywood. Along the way he gets picked up by another gent, who suddenly dies. Our man assumes his identity, fearing the police will assume he murdered the stranger. He then picks up a woman who, it turns out, also knew the deceased.
Wow what a raw, dark, hot & sweaty gem of a film this is. It only clocks in at just over an hour but in that time Ulmer manages to paint a vivid, frightening picture of the world by spinning a tale of woe like no other.
This is a low budget piece. The simple sets, unknown actors & un-fussy camera work all stand out. And yet Ulmer and his cast embrace the limitations and use them to their advantage. Everything is simple, giving the characters and the dialogue room to breathe. It’s efficient and free of filler or distractions.
The real star of the show is Ann Savage, who plays the femme fatale trying to tempt our protagonist into exploiting his current situation for the most cash possible. She lights up the screen from the first few frames she appears and never relents.
Ordinarily this B-movie level noir would be forgotten over time. The success of the film feels almost accidental. However, the unique plot and on-screen talent that surprised audiences in 1945 still works, and makes Detour an unforgettable classic.