That’s life. Whichever way you turn, fate sticks out a foot to trip you.
–Al Roberts, Detour
As I return to our TT feature, I decided to put the Tuesday spotlight on Ann Savage. More specifically, I want to look for a few moments at Ann Savage as Vera in Detour. Detour is one of those films from the 1940’s that the studios were cranking out weekly. I read some disparaging remarks about this movie more than once, one reviewer stating that all you could see of L.A. in the film was a ‘parking lot.’ One account said that the movie was shot in six days, but it was reported elsewhere that it took 14 days at a budget of $30,000. I didn’t bother to give sources, as it was impossible to know what’s truth, except that the movie had no huge budget and yet it has aged so very well.
The posed photo of Ann above is adorable, but how I remember her is like this, the hitchhiker from hell.
There is some debate about whether Vera is a femme fatale. She is not overly flirtatious and there is no sex implied. But the fast-talking hustler Vera is beautiful, mean, vicious, heartless, and manipulating. Next to Tom Neal as Al Roberts, she is strong as iron, Al being a pessimist, and a bit limp, is just a guy stuck in a situation he could not have predicted.
Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. That’s the way I was. The unknown was always so attractive to me… and still is.
I heard somewhere that Hedy Lamarr felt her looks were more of a detriment in her life than a help, though she know how to use them to get her way in Hollywood for a time, until it was over. And it was over fast. I have been fascinated by her story for some time. There are elements in it that are so sad. But we shall press forward and focus on the bright spots.
I fell in love with Jean Arthur for the first time in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. She guided Jimmy Stewart as a Junior Senator who stumbled over some corruption during his first time in Washington. I could go on an on about the film itself–its great casting, the marvelous filming around Washington, D.C., as well as the involvement of the child-actors who really made the film special. But we’re talking about Jean Arthur today. Let’s take a peek–and a listen–
“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart.”
-Danny, in Too Late for Tears
In an interview in 1996 Lizabeth Scott said that the film noir roles that she played, often the good girls gone bad, were not written for her, that it was serendipity, due to the popularity of noir at the time. She said, “I fell in love with the lens, and the lens fell in love with me.”
What do you think of when someone mentions Bette Davis? The full-of-life doomed Judith Traherne with a brain tumor in Dark Victory? Or is it the cheeky Mildred tormenting a devoted Philip in Of Human Bondage? Perhaps she is most memorable for you as Baby Jane Hudson. For me, no part was more memorable than her portrayal of Charlotte Vale in Now, Voyager. I am sure that I related to her repression and heavy-handed mother. It was a pleasure to look on the screen and see a woman who never flinched, and who was determined to fight to get her own life back for herself. That impressed the hell out of me. Because it was Bette Davis on the screen, I believed every bit of it.