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The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 20 February 1947 (USA)
Law-abiding Jimmy Ferguson soon regrets giving a ride to killer Steve Morgan.


(as Felix Feist)


(novel), (as Felix Feist)
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Complete credited cast:
Ted North ...
Jimmy 'Fergie' Ferguson
Beulah Zorn, alias Carol Demming
Agnes Smith
Andrew Tombes ...
Joe Brayden, Night Watchman
Harry Shannon ...
Detective Owens, San Diego Police
Glen Vernon ...
Jack Kenny, Gas Station Attendant
Marian Carr ...
Diane Ferguson
Police Capt. Martin, San Diego Police
Josephine Whittell ...
Diane's mother
Phil Warren ...
Pete, Roadblock Motorcycle Cop
Robert Malcolm ...
Deputy Sheriff Grover


Steve Morgan kills a man in a holdup and hitches a ride to Los Angeles with Fergie. At a gas station, they pick up two women. Encountering a roadblock, Morgan takes over and persuades the party to spend the night at an unoccupied beach house. The police close in as one by one, the others learn that Morgan is a killer. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He'll kill until he dies! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 February 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Morte Misteriosa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Dark Nutty Thrill Ride
19 May 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA) – See all my reviews

First of all, let's get something straight. "The Devil Thumbs A Ride" is the BEST title in the history of motion pictures. Hands down. It's not even close. What a vivid and startling image those words conjure up in the mind's eye.

This is a movie I've been trying to track down for years and it does not disappoint. It's surprisingly nasty considering the year it was made, though always with a wingy "now let's not take any of this too seriously folks" feel to it. It's as if the director, Felix Feist, was hired to crank out a simple little crime quickie with a good guy, a bad guy, a nice girl and a bad girl, but wasn't quite sure how to do that (sort of like a gifted baseball pitcher who just can't throw any pitch straight). So he tosses everything into a blender and twists it into a swirling, pulpy freak show. The bad guy seems too cool and in control, the "good" guy is sort of a creep, the nice girl meets a shocking fate, and the bad girl almost steals the show. Certainly a zippy, wicked ancestor of Tarantino and all the Tarantino knock-offs that litter the shelves at Blockbuster.

Feist was a breathless, inventive director who really knew how to move the camera and keep things humming along. (His movies are incredibly tightly paced.) The vacuum cleaner scene, played without dialogue, is a real highlight. And Lawrence Tierney of course, is excellent. When he advises "better let me take the wheel", you know it's going to be a wild ride.

There are some goofy B-movie slip-ups (the cop who agrees to let the gas station attendant come along on the chase for the killer, for one) but that only adds to its charm. One of the cruelest code-era films I've seen, it has a slapped on happy ending that seems to go about as well as perfume on a chainsaw. Richly deserving of its growing cult.

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