DETOUR @ TIFF May 10 & 19


Edgar J. Ulmer’s Detour has been called his Citizen Kane!

Newly restored after circulating for decades in poor, public-domain prints, Edgar G. Ulmer’s off-the-wall B-movie classic is the ne plus ultra of noir: the protagonist, weak-willed pianist Al Roberts (Tom Neal), is one of the genre’s great, guiltily innocent anti-heroes, and he and hatchet-faced femme fatale Vera (Ann Savage) — who addresses him with repeated salvos of “sucker” and “sap” — achieve a victim/supplicant symbiosis that is perversely irresistible to watch. Hitching a ride cross-country to join his torch-singer girlfriend in L.A., Roberts covers up the sudden death of his ride and assumes the man’s identity. When he foolishly picks up Vera, the hard-luck dame twigs to his deception right off the bat, and tries to blackmail the hapless ivory-tickler into cashing in on his new name. Parlaying his extreme budgetary limitations into creative mise en scène, Ulmer creates some striking expressionist effects, while Neal’s slangy voiceover completes the film’s fatalistic, doom-haunted tone.

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