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By Eric Allen Hatch | Posted

Shot in less than a week for the cost of about one day's catering on a Michael Bay movie, Detour is a film-noir classic of an entirely different breed. Its grim flashback narrative and seedy interiors bring the world of hard-boiled pulp novels into sharp focus with sparse efficiency, making many more renowned noirs seem like overblown epics in comparison. New York pianist Al Roberts (Tom Neal) leaves his job at a seedy nightclub to hitchhike to Los Angeles to reunite with his lady friend. Fate intervenes at every step of the way--with the help of classic femme fatale Vera (Ann Savage)--mapping out a much different future for our hapless hero. Legendary B-movie director Edgar G. Ulmer (The Black Cat, The Man From Planet X) probably didn't expect this 1945 film to become an enduring classic, but his uncanny ability to turn strictly imposed restraints into minimalist artistry has been rewarded with a fervent cult reputation, and the selection of this film for preservation by the National Film Registry. As a bizarre footnote, Tom Neal Jr. would tackle his troubled father's role nearly half a century later in an obscure but obsessively faithful remake.

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