Red Detour

A choice of viewing for my students and anyone else interested: DETOUR, directed by Edgar Ulmer and written by Martins Goldsmith and Mooney, available on YouTube, and LE CERCLE ROUGE, written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.


I’ll probably discontinue these shortly — keeping the students engaged long-distance with anything other than the central coursework the need to pass — which they’re all doing fine with — is proving impossible, and I don’t feel I should be guilt-tripping them on top of everything else that’s going on. So it may be up to you, the Shadowplayers, to fill my comments section.

7 Responses to “Red Detour”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Both masterpieces in very different ways. And both deal with failure. “Detour” is the last word on being kicked while you’re already down. “Le Circle Rouge” is Melville’s most meticulously designed failed robbery.

  2. Sudarshan Ramani Says:

    Melville did say that, “Life is an uphill struggle to failure.”

    The current pandemic more than vindicates that.

  3. Tony Williams Says:

    Very good choices. I used to teach Melville in those distant days of better enrollments before my Chair began putting pressure on me to teach more “popular” stuff like HARRY POTTER and the TWILIGHT series. DETOUR will be interesting if ony for Ann Savage who appears in Guy Maddin’s MY WINNIPEG

  4. Adam Ryan Says:

    I liked Detour though wasn’t completely sold by some of it’s tropes; the song motif just felt like a bit of a 40s cliche. I liked that you’re briefly allowed to think and react with Al to the prospect that Vera can hear his thoughts when she questions him about Haskel; it helps you to understand how much of a suggestible idiot he is and, on a more meta level, how much he is at the mercy of the plot.

  5. I love Detour, and it’s become an odd sort of comfort watch in these particularly strange times. While things are very much less than ideal, I don’t have a body lying in the desert and an acid tongued Ann Savage in my passenger seat.

    Al is really more of an avatar than a 3 dimensional character, but it works in the cheap and claustrophobic realm of the film.

  6. I always wondered if Al should be taken as an unreliable narrator, his unconvincing sob story being just a cover for his series of dastardly but stupid crimes?

    But, given the quality of the average Monogram script, he was probably just at the mercy of a shoddy determinist plotline, like the rest of us.

  7. I’ve always read it as him being such, because the version of events we see is such a shoddy plotline, and absolves Al of any responsibility

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