Detour (1945)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

Stars: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Edmund MacDonald, Claudia Drake

"Where did you leave his body?"

The ultimate film noir classic, Detour is one of the bleakest movies ever made. Bitter, lonely, and depressed, piano-man Al hitchhikes across country to be with his girlfriend, the only positive aspect of his miserable life. As surely as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Al's journey becomes a swift downward spiral to the deepest pits of Hades when he catches a ride with a man who accidentally dies en route to Los Angeles. Cynical Al makes the desperate decision to cover up the death, which leads him to make the mistake that takes him on the fatal detour that culminates in the total ruination of his life.

Ann Savage (what an appropriate name) is Vera, one of the most despicable female characters in filmdom. She's as vicious as a pit bull and loser Al is simply no match for her. The dialogue between the two is amazing. Their scenes together are so realistic, you'll believe that they really hate each other's guts.

This dark gem reinforces the pessimist's creed- that no matter what you do, the world is out to get you. The only question is the route you'll end up taking to your own doom. Ulmer has directed a masterpiece that any self respecting cinephile must see, especially of the film noir genre.