Complete summary of Detour (1945)

Grumpy, rumpled Al Roberts freaks out in a Reno, Nevada diner when he hears a song on the radio. He flashes back.

He and fiancee Sue played that song when they were New York nightclub performers. Sue left for Los Angeles to further her career. Al decided to join her and hitchhiked cross-country. In Arizona, a wealthy man named Haskell gave Al a lift, talking about his trouble with a woman. After switching drivers, Al discovered that Haskell had a heart attack and died in his sleep. Fearing being arrested for Haskell's death, Al hid Haskell's body, and took his money and car to get to Los Angeles. Al successfully passed himself of as Haskell when stopped by police at the state line.

Al picked up an unpleasant woman hitchhiker, who was the woman Haskell talked about as trouble. Vera recognised Haskell's car and Al's true identity. She forced Al to rent an apartment with her in Los Angeles. Vera kept Al prisoner and tried to seduce him. Vera threatened to go to the police about Haskell's "murder" unless Al impersonated Haskell, the long-lost son of a dying millionaire, for the Haskell estate. Al refused and Vera took the telephone into her room to call the police. Al pulled the telephone cord to break it. He went into Vera's room and discovered the telephone cord had been around her neck and that he had accidentally strangled her. Al decided to flee and to abandon hopes of reuniting with Sue and headed back East.

In the Reno diner, the radio reports that police are looking for Haskell, suspected of murdering his wife Vera in Los Angeles. Al continues walking on the highway and is picked up by the highway patrol.

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