May 20, 2016
Review #799: The Hitch-Hiker.
Edmond O'Brien (Roy Collins), Frank Lovejoy (Gilbert Bowen), William Talman (Emmett Myers), José Torvay (Captain Alvarado), Wendell Niles (Himself), Jean Del Val (Inspector General), Clark Howat (Government Agent), and Natividad Vacío (Jose) Directed by Ida Lupino.
Hitchhiking (in principle) can be a way for people stranded or lost to get a ride to where they need to be, but the danger of accepting (or giving) a ride to someone you may not necessarily know is still something that is relevant today, even with the new technologies introduced in the past decade (or two), which makes this movie not as dated as it could have been. This was based off the real life hitch hiking murders of Billy Cook, who murdered six people in 1950; he, like the killer in the movie also had a detached eyelid, though the movie counterpart only has 3 victims. This film is considered to be the first film noir directed by a woman; Ida Lupino (who was also an actress) had directed five films previously as part of her production company The Filmakers, founded by her and her husband at the time, with the two also writing the script. The movie focuses on three main characters for a majority of the movie, and there is a good amount of tension in seeing what will happen next. Sure, one could say that given the time frame (the 1950's), you could argue that it is slightly predictable what will happen in the end. But really, who goes into a movie trying to figure it out by the first 10 minutes? For me, it's how the movie presents itself that absolves some gleam of predictability. It's a slick ride that moves quickly enough (at 71 minutes), setting up the characters and situation nicely to make for a well fashioned thrill. O'Brien and Lovejoy make for a good hostage duo, never coming off as too melodramatic nor too serious Talman is a fairly decent villain, coming off as slimy as one would expect, not trying once to come off (or phone in) as sympathetic. I especially like the scene in which he makes one of the two hostages shoot a can that the other is holding near him. The movie moves at a brisk pace that never wavers, with a good deal of realism but also thrilling charm to it.
Countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.