The Hitch-Hiker [1953]

6a00d83451cb7469e2016306101c38970d-400wi“You haven’t got a thing except that gun! You’d better hang onto it because without it, you’re finished!”

Director : Ida Lupino

Writer : Collier Young, Ida Lupino, Robert L. Joseph (adaptation), Daniel Mainwaring (uncredited)

Cast : Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman

Story : An escape convict tries to hitch-hike to his freedom leaving the bodies of good Samaritans along his way. Now how unlucky can you be to stop exactly for this man? Just ask Roy Collins and Gilbert Bowen, two pals who just wanted to go fishing, but since they are fictional characters so it’s easier to watch this movie.

What I Liked :

– you know that feeling when you are just tired of the fancy new movies, it’s late you are tired and just want something yummy to feed your mind, what do you turn to if not to a first-rate noir. If you are similar to this feeling this movie is the perfect medicine

first aspect I want to talk about is the director, it is pretty rare that I sacrifice a whole paragraph to him or her in this case, but Ida Lupino is something. For one thing being a famous and talented director in her era (50’s) and she certainly paved the way for the future generation. What I really loved is the way she managed to recreate in our mind the claustrophobic situation the three men were, even in a bar they are filmed close together with no room left or right. The start of the movie, the way we were brought up to speed was mind-blowing, I loved every second of it, resembled a night-time special of a serial killer (documentary style at its best).  She managed to turn this low-budget into a real classic.

– Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy (gotta love this name, would have married him in a heartbeat just to introduce myself as Miss Lovejoy) gave their best, they really managed to deliver a believable and realistic portrayal of an average Joe. The whole movie managed to do just that, I think most of us would have reacted in a similar way, and that is the reason it is easy as hell to get caught up in the action since it really could have been you in that car.

– William Talman gave a chilling portrayal of a serial killer, I would rank his personification in the same league with Robert Mitchum’s Harry Powell in Night of the Hunter.  Playing out the paralyzed eye is an amazing detail that adds so much tenseness to the film, you feel like you are always watched and you can have no idea when you have a slight chance to escape. But back to Talman, don’t know how he did it but his eyes were crazy, so much anger and hatred in it. I believe this is the true eye of a killer (and the other plus why u must love him is because he goes on to play Hamilton Burger in the Perry Mason series)

What I Didn’t Like :

 the ending could have been better,  missed the wanted climax by a few beats, but still good enough. I recommend this movie whole-heartedly

Final Note :

4 out of 4

Interesting Facts :

– Ida Lupino is the first woman to direct a film noir (Wikipedia)

– wrote the screenplay with his then husband Collier Young and the blacklisted writer of Out Of The Past, Daniel Mainwaring (thus uncredited) (wikipedia)

– based on the true story of Billy Cook, Ida Lupino interviewed the two prospectors that Billy Cook had held hostage, and got releases from them and from Cook as well, so that she could integrate parts of Cook’s life into the script. To appease the censors at the Hays Office, however, she reduced the number of deaths to three. You can see how much work she had put into this film. (Wikipedia); here is the link for information on Billy Cook

– William Talman recalled in an interview a funny anecdote :  He was driving his convertible in Los Angeles with the top down, and he stopped at a red light. Another driver in a convertible who was stopped next to him stared at him for a few seconds, then said, “You’re the hitchhiker, right?” Talman nodded, indicating that he was. The other driver got out of his car, went over to Talman’s car and slapped him across the face, then got back in his car and drove off. In recalling the story, Talman said, “You know, I never won an Academy Award but I guess that was about as close as I ever will come to one.”

Online :

 

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