Savage Detours - Book Report

By Monica Sullivan

Ask film buffs who was the best actress of 1945 and you’ll hear names like Joan Crawford, Ingrid Bergman, Greer Garson, Jennifer Jones, Gene Tierney or newcomer Angela Lansbury. All were or are good actors who enjoyed great stardom. But many feel that the best performance by an actress that year was delivered by Ann Savage in “Detour” at lowly Producers Releasing Corporation. Recognition for her achievement was very slow in coming: forty, fifty, sixty years later, young audiences would see this unforgettable woman acting her guts out as a hard, desperate character who’d do anything for a buck, even though she knew she was doomed. When Bette Davis shocked the world with her interpretation of a “vulgar slut” like Mildred Rogers in “Of Human Bondage” she made a splash that rippled through the rest of her career. Ann Savage played Vera in “Detour”, a “B” movie (that should have been an “A”!) and went back to making more “B” movies, thirty in all.

“Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage” by Lisa Morton and Kent Adamson is the book that belongs in the library of every film noir fan. It reveals the challenging life of a tough cookie who took her work very seriously, even though, for many years, she was the only one who did. The book contains a 78 page biography, a 105 page filmography, a 45 page “Detour” script, complete with Ann Savage’s notes, a bibliography and an index. 85 photographs, most of which I’ve never seen before, illustrate the text. They reveal how Ann Savage changed her look to suit each part, as well as her timeless classic good looks, which she retained throughout her life. When you look at the short, ugly and violent fate of Vera in “Detour,” it’s reassuring to read that Ann Savage’s real life was filled with love, fun and adventure.

When she was 70, she was seen on a “Saved By The Bell” segment, doing a tango with none other than Mario Lopez. 17 years later, she made “My Winnipeg” for director Guy Madden, one of her most rewarding creative experiences. And yet she retained the unique quality that made her Ann Savage instead of one of many Hollywood supernovas. When someone urged her to consider a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, she simply said “Honey, I don’t want people walking on me!” For more information check out

© 2010 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 04/28/10
Movie Magazine International