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#218- Detour

Quick Recap: There are many reasons why hitchhiking is a bad idea, one of them being that you might be accused of murder.

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Or it might be Rodney Dangerfield. You just never know!

Fun (?) fact: Tom Neal, who played the main character Al, was convicted of killing his wife in 1965. I’d add something witty here, but that’s just sad and Tom Neal was an asshole.

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Tom Neal is an example of someone you wouldn’t want to pick up.

My thoughts: As I have most likely mentioned before (but am currently too lazy to verify), I have an extreme fear of being accused of a crime I didn’t commit. There are some people who go so far as to save all their receipts for the sole purpose of having an alibi in case they are in a situation that would warrant it, but (as mentioned before) I’m too lazy to do that. Plus, knowing my luck, if I did keep all of my receipts and was accused of a crime, the prosecution would probably use that as evidence that not only was I guilty, but that it was premeditated. And exhibit B would probably be this entire paragraph, so it’s for the best that I get on with the review and stop incriminating myself.

So…..Detour. IMDb calls this film one of the best B-movies ever made, which, on the surface sounds like an oxymoron. I get it, though. Director Edgar G.Ulmer had a very small budget and instead of trying to create what would’ve been really bad scenery, he just had fun with it. Case in point, the beginning of the movie shows Al hitchhiking his way west and later heading east. There wasn’t a budget to show both directions, so Ulmer simply reversed the film. The result is Al hitching with his left thumb and riding in cars where the driver is on the right side. There are also many scenes where Al is staring off into the distance as his voice explains what he is thinking. Low budget, yes, but the story is simple enough to have not needed an expensive set.

The main plot of the film is about as outlandish as you might expect: Al hitchhikes to LA to reunite with his girlfriend and along the way gets picked up by a really rich guy. The rich guy dies and Al realizes that if he calls the police, it’s going to look really suspicious. So he instead buries the body, switches identities and continues on his way. Being the idiot that he is, Al picks up his own hitchhiker, who just happens to be a woman that knew the dead rich guy and now she is in on what happened. The two fight about what to do and in one of the best (worst?) scenes I’ve encountered on this list, the woman locks herself in a hotel room to call the police on Al. On the other side of the door, Al pulls as hard as he can on the phone cord and when that doesn’t work, kicks down the door. That’s when he finds the cord wrapped around the woman’s neck and she too is dead. Rotten luck, indeed. It’s such a wonderfully silly story, but somehow, it works. The acting wasn’t great but it didn’t need to be to get the point across.

Final review: 4/5. And thanks to the Hayes code which stipulates that murderers aren’t allowed to get away with their crimes, Al is picked up at the end of the movie and brought to justice.

Up next: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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