23 December 2004 | ptb-8
Bottom rung studio rings loud kudos
Dear Me, PRC, the sub-Republic/Monogram indie studio that was considered the most cardboard of studios managed on this occasion to actually create a deliciously nasty noir. DETOUR, as many commentators here like to spoil for you by telling you THE WHOLE STORY is an excellent low budget film of one man's descent into accidental crime. So powerful are the screen images and the seedy tawdry drama that one almost forgets they are watching one of the cheapest (and profitable) films ever made. Monogram Pictures made several highly appreciated low end noirs (like the truly shocking DECOY of 1946) and must have been very envious of the now enduring $66,000 PRC masterpiece DETOUR. In fact I would not be surprised to find that Monogram were inspired enough to make DECOY as a result. Tom Neal sadly actually went to jail in real life in a genuine DETOUR like way and vicious Ann Savage lived up to her name in a few more noir shockers for various crummy B/W outfits who specialized until the mid 50s in similar films. NARROW MARGIN and KISS ME DEADLY are equals. DETOUR is one of the most rewarding grim descents into 40s desperation film making and the doomed loser played by Tom Neal certainly is the most tragic of them all. This is a great film. It is all it is meant to be and viewers who sit riveted to the unfolding emotional horror are genuinely rewarded. Originally TIFFANY STUDIOS in the 20s the lot became for hire after 1932 then was the home for GRAND NATIONAL from 1935 -39 and morphed into PRC in 1940. With a huge shed of snazzy 20s furniture and sets from the previous 15 years it allowed PRC's budget conscious front office to upgrade their art direction by virtue of all these classy fittings costumes bought and left there by the sophisticated view of those previous managements. I have seen a number of independent B grade30s pix made there with the same sets and outfittings inbetween management reincarnation. PRC in the late 40s were bought up by EAGLE-LION a US/Brit franchise headed by J Arthur Rank and rolled in 1950 into UNITED ARTISTS. As one journalist aptly wrote "No other poverty row outfit were able to cash in their chips so handsomely". Good on 'em! See DETOUR and gasp!!