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Saw this last night, and I have to say it's really interesting to watch these films while working on this course because I think our senses are more keen to listen, look, and find things that maybe otherwise we wouldn't listen to or look at.

 

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good film, with a twisted and dark little story. Performances from Tom Neal and Ann Savage were good, although she felt a bit more forced. Neal was more natural, but they still worked pretty well off each other.

 

Great use of light, shadows, and music, and a fine direction by Ulmer to keep the mood. Enjoyed it a lot.

 

 

 

Now, on to the things I saw that reminded me of this course...

 

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Low key lighting, contrast and shadows...

 

 

 

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Oversized, surreal props

 

 

 

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Use of fogs, lights, shadows...

 

 

 

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Dream-like sequences, angled shots...

 

 

 

Add to that the traditional character elements of noir films, like the man down on his luck and the "femme fatale", and the flashback narrative.

 

And a great shot near the end...

 

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I enjoyed this one a lot. Any thoughts?

 
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It's interesting that Tom Neal came to a bad end in real life.  Someone could probably make a really good neo-noir based on his life's story.  The romance/infatuation with Barbara Payton, the fistfight where he put Franchot Tone in the hospital, his subsequent shunning by the Industry,  Payton marrying Tone, but then going back to Neal, Payton's descent into drug addiction and prostitution,  Neal ultimately killing his estranged wife (not Payton) and going to jail for murder, it's a dark, lurid tale.  The stills posted by Thief12, fit with this story as well.  

 

Despite a plot that is borderline laughable, the visuals of Detour really make the film.  If you liked this you might also like The Amazing Mr. X, which is available on the public domain noir website that was provided for use with this course.  This film, which does not show up in some of the guides, has an interesting plot, and some beautiful visuals by John Alton.  A number of his filmographies do not even include this film.  It is a "formalist feast" and well worth watching if you don't mind low budget noir.  

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It's interesting that Tom Neal came to a bad end in real life.  Someone could probably make a really good neo-noir based on his life's story.  The romance/infatuation with Barbara Payton, the fistfight where he put Franchot Tone in the hospital, his subsequent shunning by the Industry,  Payton marrying Tone, but then going back to Neal, Payton's descent into drug addiction and prostitution,  Neal ultimately killing his estranged wife (not Payton) and going to jail for murder, it's a dark, lurid tale.  The stills posted by Thief12, fit with this story as well.  

 

Despite a plot that is borderline laughable, the visuals of Detour really make the film.  If you liked this you might also like The Amazing Mr. X, which is available on the public domain noir website that was provided for use with this course.  This film, which does not show up in some of the guides, has an interesting plot, and some beautiful visuals by John Alton.  A number of his filmographies do not even include this film.  It is a "formalist feast" and well worth watching if you don't mind low budget noir.  

 

Wow, thanks for sharing that. I didn't know about Tom Neal's life, but thanks to you I read a bit. How sadly ironic is it that he ended up almost killing a man in a fight and accidentally killing his wife's when his most famous role was that of a man who accidentally kills a man and a woman?

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Saw this last night, and I have to say it's really interesting to watch these films while working on this course because I think our senses are more keen to listen, look, and find things that maybe otherwise we wouldn't listen to or look at.

 

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good film, with a twisted and dark little story. Performances from Tom Neal and Ann Savage were good, although she felt a bit more forced. Neal was more natural, but they still worked pretty well off each other.

 

I enjoyed this one a lot. Any thoughts?

 

I always thought Ann Savage's performance as Vera was over the top because it's Al telling the story, and he wants to make himself look good. I don't buy half of what he tells us; I think he was much more complicit in all of the deaths than he wants the audience to believe. And Vera is a caricature of the noir femme fatale because he's trying to convince us that everything was her idea, and he's completely innocent.

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I always thought Ann Savage's performance as Vera was over the top because it's Al telling the story, and he wants to make himself look good. I don't buy half of what he tells us; I think he was much more complicit in all of the deaths than he wants the audience to believe. And Vera is a caricature of the noir femme fatale because he's trying to convince us that everything was her idea, and he's completely innocent.

How much of that is her over the top performance, and how much is the stilted dialogue?  Agreed, it's over the top, and borderline laughable.  I've always argued to the skeptics (and there are many) that it's the visuals that save this film.

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I always thought Ann Savage's performance as Vera was over the top because it's Al telling the story, and he wants to make himself look good. I don't buy half of what he tells us; I think he was much more complicit in all of the deaths than he wants the audience to believe. And Vera is a caricature of the noir femme fatale because he's trying to convince us that everything was her idea, and he's completely innocent.

 

Hmm, that's an interesting way to look at it.

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It's interesting that Tom Neal came to a bad end in real life.  Someone could probably make a really good neo-noir based on his life's story.  The romance/infatuation with Barbara Payton, the fistfight where he put Franchot Tone in the hospital, his subsequent shunning by the Industry,  Payton marrying Tone, but then going back to Neal, Payton's descent into drug addiction and prostitution,  Neal ultimately killing his estranged wife (not Payton) and going to jail for murder, it's a dark, lurid tale.  The stills posted by Thief12, fit with this story as well.  

 

Despite a plot that is borderline laughable, the visuals of Detour really make the film.  If you liked this you might also like The Amazing Mr. X, which is available on the public domain noir website that was provided for use with this course.  This film, which does not show up in some of the guides, has an interesting plot, and some beautiful visuals by John Alton.  A number of his filmographies do not even include this film.  It is a "formalist feast" and well worth watching if you don't mind low budget noir.  

Low budget noir is the purest form of noir.  I believe Ulmer and Alton were thrilled to have little-known bad actors in the film.  Their main aim was to focus on its formalist style.  When you have the big hitters like Bogart, Mitchum, Edward G, et al in your movie, they take the attention away from the form.  The quality of their performance gives an air of reality to the story which noirist directors/cinematographers don't want.  The ludicrousness of the story ensures we appreciate the fantastic element.

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I always thought Ann Savage's performance as Vera was over the top because it's Al telling the story, and he wants to make himself look good. I don't buy half of what he tells us; I think he was much more complicit in all of the deaths than he wants the audience to believe. And Vera is a caricature of the noir femme fatale because he's trying to convince us that everything was her idea, and he's completely innocent.

 

Agreed almost 100%. 

 

Low budget noir is the purest form of noir.  I believe Ulmer and Alton were thrilled to have little-known bad actors in the film.  Their main aim was to focus on its formalist style.  When you have the big hitters like Bogart, Mitchum, Edward G, et al in your movie, they take the attention away from the form.  The quality of their performance gives an air of reality to the story which noirist directors/cinematographers don't want.  The ludicrousness of the story ensures we appreciate the fantastic element.

 

Yes! The acting and much of the dialogue is very melodramatic, bordering upon soapy, but it fits the story as so much of it involves conveying the emotion and doing so from the main character's storytelling POV. Bogart and Mitchum wouldn't have been quality for this lead role. Either one of them would have come across as either too cool or too tough and mean for the lead male role. It wouldn't have seemed realistic (speaking from a psychological point of view because this movie is really formalist in it's style, but it's usually in a way to showcase the emotional tenor of the characters and the story) for them be someone who would put up with such a domineering femme fatale and seem so depressed and pathetic. Plus, given their movie star aura, it would have been difficult for them to seem so bound by fate and doomed, which the script requires.

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After listening to the Detour podcast, I wanted to ask... what do you all think about the Hays Code ending? Does it bother any of you? Do you think it hinders or improves the film? 

 

Someone at another film forum I frequent said that the man should've ended "wandering and lost, forever exiled".

 

Thoughts?

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It seems that Al may have invented his lovely blond girlfriend. When he calls her long distance, he doesn't speak. We know he will never connect with her. Still, we feel for Al. Ann Savage was so vicious as Vera that it is unbearable to watch her. I often wondered why Edgar Ulmer did not fancy her up somewhat. She seems to belong in a European neo- realist film.

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It seems that Al may have invented his lovely blond girlfriend. When he calls her long distance, he doesn't speak. We know he will never connect with her. Still, we feel for Al. Ann Savage was so vicious as Vera that it is unbearable to watch her. I often wondered why Edgar Ulmer did not fancy her up somewhat. She seems to belong in a European neo- realist film.

 

That's actually a really great idea. My theory(expanded below) is that since Al is narrating the story, we can't trust any of it. Certainly someone as vile as Vera couldn't possibly exist as such a caricature. All of his flashbacks feel a little invented, if you ask me.

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After listening to the Detour podcast, I wanted to ask... what do you all think about the Hays Code ending? Does it bother any of you? Do you think it hinders or improves the film? 

 

Someone at another film forum I frequent said that the man should've ended "wandering and lost, forever exiled".

 

Thoughts?

 

I actually really enjoy it. It puts a really nice ironic cap on the story. Plus it feels a little dreamlike, the way the cops just 'know' that he's the man they're looking for. No one says anything, no one asks him any questions, they just pull up, calmly put him in the backseat, and then drive off. There's something sudden and yet unrushed about their behavior that it feels odd and unreal. Which is how a lot of the film prior to this felt, so it fits 100% if you ask me.

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I actually really enjoy it. It puts a really nice ironic cap on the story. Plus it feels a little dreamlike, the way the cops just 'know' that he's the man they're looking for. No one says anything, no one asks him any questions, they just pull up, calmly put him in the backseat, and then drive off. There's something sudden and yet unrushed about their behavior that it feels odd and unreal. Which is how a lot of the film prior to this felt, so it fits 100% if you ask me.

 

Same with the way he calmly accepts his fate. He doesn't fight or react much either way. It's almost as if it didn't matter where he's headed. He's doomed anyway.

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