Tag Archives: Tim Ryan

Detour (1945, Edgar G. Ulmer)

Detour should be episodic, but it's not. The film chronicles the misadventures of Tom Neal's night club pianist, who's stuck not being good enough for Carnegie Hall and having a fickle fiancée (Claudia Drake) from the outset. When he does decide to follow her out to her dreams in California, instead of saving bus fare, he hitchhikes and things go badly for him.

Along the way–and even from the opening bookend (Detour's almost entirely in flashback)–he runs across interesting people and situations. And even though Martin Goldsmith's script has some great stuff in it, neither director Ulmer nor Goldsmith turn these little encounters into vignettes. They're part of a lengthy narrative, with Neal doing a voiceover for the whole thing. The result is a seventy minute picture with some boring spots, which it shouldn't have.

Part of the problem is how long it takes Detour to define itself. The script has a full first act setting up Neal's uninteresting back story. He's a whiny jerk, Drake isn't likable, Ulmer doesn't have to budget to do big club scenes–but Goldsmith's script does make it all interesting. Neal doesn't even give a good performance.

Things start getting interesting after the hitchhiking montage when Edmund MacDonald picks up Neal. MacDonald's a real creep; it softens Neal up a bit. But he's just a MacGuffin to get Ann Savage into the picture. She's a realistically, thoughtfully conceived evil human being. Savage is occasionally histrionic, but she makes Detour special.

Otherwise, it'd just be boring.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer; screenplay by Martin Goldsmith, based on his novel; director of photography, Benjamin H. Kline; edited by George McGuire; music by Leo Erdody; produced by Leon Fromkess; released by Producers Releasing Corporation.

Starring Tom Neal (Al Roberts), Ann Savage (Vera), Claudia Drake (Sue Harvey), Edmund MacDonald (Charles Haskell Jr.), Tim Ryan (Nevada Diner Proprietor), Esther Howard (Diner Waitress) and Pat Gleason (Joe).


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Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943, William Beaudine)

About two minutes after I finished watching Mystery of the 13th Guest, I realized no one ever solves the titular mystery. There’s a mysterious thirteenth guest in the first scene; the guest is absent and his or her identity is never revealed. Tim Ryan’s police lieutenant is supposed to be sort of dumb (but smarter than his hilarious, completely moronic–and narcoleptic–sidekick Frank Faylen), but Dick Purcell’s private investigator is supposed to walk on water and he never mentions it either.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film where the title introduces a mystery totally unrelated to the film’s actual plot. 13th Guest‘s mystery is a relatively simple one–which family member is killing off the other family members to get an inheritance. Nothing to do with the missing thirteenth guest.

The mystery itself isn’t bad, but the plot is idiotic. Ryan and Purcell discover the murderer’s method of electrocuting his victims and they leave it set up because they’re too busy. They also don’t tell anyone.

It doesn’t help Purcell’s just terrible. Ryan’s not very good, but he’s competent. Purcell makes the film a chore to get through–the necessity of a solid character investigating a mystery is now clear to me.

Beaudine is an inoffensive director. He doesn’t bring anything to the film but doesn’t take anything away. Unfortunately, that description also broadly applies to the film. Damsel in distress Helen Parrish, for example, is genially useless.

The best performances are Lloyd Ingraham and Jacqueline Dalya in very small roles.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by William Beaudine; screenplay by Tim Ryan, Charles R. Marion and Arthur Hoerl, based on a novel by Armitage Trail; director of photography, Mack Stengler; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by Lindsley Parsons; released by Monogram Pictures.

Starring Dick Purcell (Johnny Smith), Helen Parrish (Marie Morgan), Tim Ryan (Police Lt. Burke), Frank Faylen (Speed Dugan), Johnny Duncan (Harold Morgan), Jon Dawson (Tom Jackson), Paul McVey (Adam Morgan), Jacqueline Dalya (Marjory Morgan), Cyril Ring (Barksdale) and Addison Richards (Jim, District Attorney).


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