Archive for February 15th, 2011

Director: Edgar G Ulmer

Producer: Leon Fromkess

Screenwriters: Martin Mooney and Martin Goldsmith

Cinematographer: Benjamin H. Kline

Music: Leo Erdody

Studio: PRC 1945

Main Actors: Tom Neal and Ann Savage

Made for one of the poorest of the poverty row company’s in the late noir gestation period of 1945, Detour was Edgar G Ulmer’s best example of rising above his cheap surroundings to deliver a film of relative style and craft. I say “relative” because compared to other big studio noirs of the period, Detour looks woefully inadequate and amateurish. However, it’s that rather rough quality of Ulmer’s film that many find charming and endearing. I hold a similar opinion up to a point. I do find it slightly perverse when people praise Detour over more proficient noirs simply because of its bumpy and coarse qualities. In fact, there are a slew of film noir fanatics that praise super-low budget examples of the genre over the glossier major studio productions. In theory, I’m not against this way of thinking except that convincing me that movies like Detour,Tension, or Decoy are better than something like Sunset Boulevard primarily because sloppiness somehow means displaying some invaluable genre essence is negligible at best in my opinion. Just my personal view, but I love my film noir to be well crafted and for the studio system technicians to be flexing their considerable skills.

Anyway…back to Detour. While the acting leaves much to be desired and the plot is laughable in its absurdity (Tom Neal’s explanation of assuming Haskell’s identity makes no sense unless he is some sort of unreliable narrator—in which case it’s brilliant), I have always enjoyed Ann Savage’s hammy performance. She is the ultimate femme fatale straight from biblical hell. Her seething bitchiness is intoxicating and a joy to watch. While her wide-eyed and sneering approach is deliciously over the top, the nastiness she inflicts on our hapless protagonist is the ultimate bad luck hand of fate. As Al mentions, the chances of picking her up and being swept up in her ever-increasing erratic get-rich scheme is surely an unfortunate longshot that can only come to fruition in the misery-inducing back alleys of noir. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1947 117m) DVD2 (France only)

Aka. The Devil in the Flesh

A bottle of 1905 Pommard

p  Paul Graetz  d  Claude Autant-Lara  w  Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost  novel  Raymond Radiguet  ph  Michel Kelber  ed  Madeleine Gug  m  René Cloërec  art  Max Douy

Gérard Philipe (François Jaubert), Micheline Presle (Marthe Grangier), Jean Debucourt (Mons.Jaubert), Denise Gray (Mme.Grangier), Palau (Mons.Marin), Jean Lara (Jacques Lacombe), Michel François (René), Germaine Ledoyen (Mme.Jaubert), Jacques Tati,

The cynical and sometimes impetuous youth in this film express the feelings of young people swept up in the turmoil that swept the world from 1914-1918.”  That opening caption reads like a statement for the defence.  Defence against what?  Defence against the accusations and outcry that resulted from a film that faithfully told the story of Raymond Radiguet’s controversial semi-autobiographical piece about a twenty-something woman falling for a teenage boy still in school, their parting, and then their passionate affair when she was married to a sergeant at the front.  It was seen as a tarnish to the memory of war heroes in a France reeling from years of occupation and unwilling to see anything that painted the home front from that earlier, sacrosanct conflict as anything other than loyal and steadfast.  It was a tale that seemed soaked in the aroma of death; Radiguet himself died of typhoid aged 20 in 1923, while Philipe always had the look of fragility behind the handsome grin.  (more…)

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