18 July 2004 | preppy-3
No budget masterpiece
Al Roberts (Tom Neal) is a depressed NYC piano player whose girlfriend leaves him to try her luck in CA. He follows her by hitchhiking his way. He's picked up by a man who (inexplicably) dies while Al is driving. Naturally Al does everything wrong...like dumping the body and then picking up Vera (Ann Savage) a totally amoral woman. Then things barrel horribly out of control.
You can quibble about plot points (a certain death is highly implausible) but this IS a masterpiece of the genre. It's one of the grimmest film noirs of its time. It was made by a poverty row studio (PRC) on no budget. Actually the lack of budget helps the story--everything appears dark and grim fitting the tone of the story. Also they had an excellent director (Edgar G. Ulmer) and a great script by Martin Goldsmith. Also Neal was very good as Roberts and Savage is exceptional as Vera (there's a scene where she explodes at Roberts in a car which is truly scary). It's also all wrapped up in a tight economical 69 minutes. This has deservedly been a cult movie for many years.
Good luck finding a clear print with good sound.