Detour - First thoughts

There's something about classic noir, and Detour is as classic as they get: cynically narrated from when it's already all gone to shit by an everyman, sad-sack, doomed protagonist. The booze is plentiful, the women are just as cynical as the men and much more manipulative, and boy do I love it.

That's probably why noir is my favorite genre. It's not so much that many of my favorite films are noirs: the selection at the top is a little eclectic. It's just that I haven't met a noir yet I didn't at least enjoy.

Detour's a perfect introduction. It's short (about 70 minutes, still impressive for a film shot in 6 days), the sets and dingy and the rear projection can either be called clunky or appropriately claustrophobic. And most important of all: it conveys the basic message of noir: life's a bitch, and then you die. Or, as it's said in this film: "That's life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you".

Sidenote: the origin of the forever bad endings was of course that under the production code, no crime could go unpunished: at the very least, a guilty conscience should drive the culprit crazy, like in "Scarlet Street". I'm generally opposed to censorship, but there really is something to be said for the production code: not just because it forced filmmakers to be creative (see: It happened one night) but also because without it, the cynical world of film noir would have been much different.

Most notable about this one? Aside from the fact that Tom Neal makes me think of Kurt Russell (and wouldn't he make a great noir hero?), I loved the character of Vera, "as rotten in the morning as she'd been the night before". Women in noirs are generally bad news, but at least they have a mind of their own.

(here's bright lights on the film)

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