According to Ann Savage, she and Tom Neal did not get along during filming. Savage stated that Neal embarrassed her on the set by putting his tongue in her ear. She retaliated by slapping his face as hard as she could. After that incident, they did not speak to each other except when filming scenes.
Was the first "B" movie chosen by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry, in 1992. Also the first Hollywood "Noir" honored.
The budget PRC gave director Edgar G. Ulmer for this film was so small that the 1941 Lincoln Continental V-12 convertible driven by Charles Haskell was actually Ulmer's personal car.
Whilst setting up to film a hitchhiking scene, a passing car tried to pick up Ann Savage (made up to look dirty and disheveled), causing laughter in the rest of the crew.
German filmmaker Wim Wenders called Ann Savage's performance as Vera "30 years ahead of its time."
It is frequently reported that this film was shot only in one week. In truth, the shooting schedule was 28 days. The "one week" myth appears to be based on an off-hand remark by director Edgar G. Ulmer toward the end of his life.
Ann Savage and Tom Neal made three movies together at Columbia Pictures before Detour (1945). PRC reteamed them for "Detour" to exploit the publicity and press buildup they had been given in 1943 and 1944.
Shot quickly in mostly two locations: the hotel room apartment, and the car in front of a rear projection screen on a soundstage at PRC. The actual shooting schedule was 28 days, including a brief location shoot on old U.S. Highway 6 at Actis and Rosamond, California for the desert scenes and backplates for rear projection.
The sweater worn by Ann Savage in the earlier parts of the film was yellow and belonged to Shirley Ulmer, the film's script clerk and the wife of the director. The sweater was actually a bit loose on Savage and had to be pinned in certain places so as to fit the actress more snugly. Clothes pins can be seen in some shots, especially in the 2018 restored version.
To save on production costs, Leo Erdody, the film's composer, was recorded and filmed playing two classical piano pieces - Frédéric Chopin's "Waltz No. 7 in C# minor" and Johannes Brahms' "Waltz Op. 39 no. 15 in Ab Major" - as a favor for director Edgar G. Ulmer. Al Roberts (Tom Neal) "performs" the piano pieces during scenes set in the "Break of Dawn" nightclub. Erdody's hands, in close-up, can be seen playing the Brahms.
Errol Morris' favorite film. He said of it: "It has an unparalleled quality of despair, totally unrelieved by hope."
Ann Savage worked on her biography for the last decade of her life. It was released in early 2010 called "Savage Detours."
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. It wasn't until 2019, when the Criterion Collection released an edition with 4K digital restoration on DVD and Blu-ray, that a high-quality version of the film was released on home video.
Haskell's Edmund MacDonald rare 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible is one of only 400 made that model year. It sold for $2,865 (over $50,000 in 2020). In excellent condition it could easily fetch $70,000 or more at auction. In 2013 one sold for a record $209,000.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
Ann Savage was, indeed, 24 in 1945, as Tom Neal's character guesses her to be. Strangely enough, she looks at least 15 years older in this movie.
Included among the American Film Institute's 2001 list of 400 movies nominated for the top 100 Most Heart-Pounding American Movies.
Ann Savage's movie contract for Detour (1945) is owned by movie actress Arlene Fontaine, niece of Hollywood bear trainer Stanley Beebe who, the same year that "Detour" was released, had his bears Rosie the Bear and Minnie the Bear in Road to Utopia (1945) at Paramount Studios.