The following article, written by filmmaker and artist Morgan Fisher, was originally published in Cinema Scope 38, Spring 2009. Thank you to Morgan Fisher and Mark Peranson for allowing me to republish it here. Criterion’s Detour Blu-ray is available on March 19, 2019.
In the narration of a short film I finished in 1984, I talked about the last shot in Detour (1945), directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. My commentary was brief, and I knew even then that there was more to be said. The film in which I talk about Detour is Standard Gauge. It’s one continuous extreme close-up that shows one after another pieces of 35mm film that I had gathered in the course of my employment as an editor in Hollywood, while on the track I talk about each in turn. Apart from the titles, the film consists of this one shot, which is 32 minutes long.
One of the pieces was from the leader of a reel of The Naked Dawn (1955), another film by Ulmer. In the leader was a frame with the title, The Naked Dawn. I had seen The Naked Dawn and liked it well enough, but the reason I included the piece of leader was because it gave me a chance to talk about the last shot in Detour. I love Detour, but the last shot is truly astonishing. Continue reading