Detour (1945 film)

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Detour (1945) is a film noir cult classic that stars Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake and Edmund MacDonald. The movie was adapted by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney (uncredited) from Goldsmith's novel and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The 68-minute film was released by the Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), one of the so-called "poverty row" film studios in mid-twentieth century Hollywood.[1]

Although made on a small budget with bare sets and straightforward camera work, Detour has gathered much praise through the years and is held in high regard. The film has fallen into the public domain and is freely available from online sources. There are also many DVD editions.



Al (Tom Neal) is a piano player who sets off hitchhiking his way to California to be with his fiancee. Along the way a convertible driven by Charles Haskell Jr. stops to pick him up. Al is driving while Haskell sleeps when a rainstorm begins and Al pulls over to put up the top. However, Haskell does not wake up and falls out onto the pavement, dead. Al dumps the body in a gully, takes Haskell's money, clothes and ID, then drives off in Haskell's expensive car. In voiceover, Al tells the audience that he did not kill Haskell. After spending the night in a motel, Al picks up another hitchhiker. As it happens, Vera (Ann Savage, playing a femme fatale) had earlier ridden with Haskell and blackmails Al by threatening to turn him in for murder unless he gives her all the money.

In Hollywood they rent an apartment and while trying to sell the car, learn from a newspaper that Haskell was about to collect a large inheritance. Vera, who has an unknown illness which she hints may cut her life short, demands that Al impersonate Haskell but Al balks at this notion. When the two get drunk in the apartment and begin arguing, a snubbed Vera takes Al up on his angry dare to call the police, whereupon Al accidentally strangles her with a telephone cord. Again in voiceover, Al claims he did not kill Vera. Al starts hitchhiking back east, but as the film ends is picked up by the police near Reno.


  • Tom Neal as Al Roberts
  • Ann Savage as Vera
  • Claudia Drake as Sue Harvey
  • Edmund MacDonald as Charles Haskell Jr
  • Tim Ryan as Nevada Diner Proprietor
  • Esther Howard as Holly, Diner Waitress
  • Pat Gleason as Joe, Trucker at Diner
  • Don Brodie as the Used Car Salesman

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