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The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,019 users  
Reviews: 60 user | 37 critic

Two fishermen pick up a psychotic escaped convict who tells them that he intends to murder them when the ride is over.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Roy Collins
Frank Lovejoy ...
Gilbert Bowen
William Talman ...
José Torvay ...
Captain Alvarado (as Jose Torvay)
Sam Hayes ...
Radio Broadcaster
Wendell Niles ...
Wendell Niles (as Wendel Niles)
Jean Del Val ...
Inspector General
Clark Howat ...
Government Agent
Natividad Vacío ...
Jose (as Natividad Vacio)
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Storyline

Two friends on a fishing trip pick up a stranded motorist who turns out to be a psychotic escaped convict. This sociopath has already murdered other good Samaritans in his efforts to evade authorities. He sadistically taunts and threatens the two men and perversely delights in telling them that he has them both marked for death sometime before the end of the trip. His destination is a ferryboat in Baja, California, which he hopes will help him get to the mainland. The hostages hope to stay alive long enough to escape or be rescued by Mexican authorities. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When was the last time you invited death into your car? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

16 October 1953 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Hitch-Hiker  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an interview Talman recalled an incident that happened shortly after the release of The Hitch-Hiker (1953), in which he gave a chilling portrayal of escaped murderer and serial killer Emmett Meyers. 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." See more »

Goofs

After the trio stops to disconnect their stuck car horn, further down the road they experience a tire blow-out. As the car comes to a stop, the car horn can be briefly heard. See more »

Quotes

Emmett Myers: My folks were tough. When I was born, they took one look at this puss of mine and told me to get lost.
See more »

Crazy Credits

This is the true story of a man and a gun and a car. The gun belonged to the man. The car might have been yours - or that young couple across the aisle. What you will see in the next seventy minutes could have happened to you. For the facts are actual. See more »

Connections

Featured in Wanderlust (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Definite "Thumbs" Up.
28 May 2005 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

Thanks to modern technology, another film noir classic has escaped from Hollywood's vault of too-often-overlooked or forgotten films. Albeit a minor classic, "The Hitch-Hiker," directed by Ida Lupino, is a taut drama notable for it's realism, as well as a haunting performance by William Talman.

Reputedly based on a true incident ("Penned from the headlines"), the story traces the movements of a hitch-hiker, Emmett Myers (Talman), who repays his highway hosts by robbing and murdering them. Initially, we are shown mere glimpses of Myers and his victims, which successfully sets the stage for the introduction of Roy Collins (Edmond O'Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy), two friends on their way to a fishing trip in Mexico, when, unawares, they pick up Myers.

What follows is a realistic depiction of what most likely would transpire when ordinary people are suddenly faced with such extraordinary circumstances. And the strength of the film lies in the fact that when Collins and Bowen are kidnapped, held at gunpoint and forced to do the bidding of their captor, they react and behave in a manner that is both consistent with their current state of affairs and believable. There are no feigned heroics or superhuman contrivances that allow the two captives to effect an escape; instead, the story plays out in much the way one would, in reality, expect in such a situation, which, when extrapolated, effectively drives home the true horror of Collin's and Bowen's circumstance.

The lion's share of the credit for the success of this film must go to director Ida Lupino, whose almost documentary-style approach to the story lends it the necessary grit and intensity. She scores double points, as well, for not only delivering a memorable film, but doing so at a time in which few women were afforded the opportunity to perform at such a level behind the camera. Lupino's success no doubt helped pave the way for the likes of Jane Campion, Jodie Foster, Gillian Armstrong, Allison Anders and a host of other women who have since proved that gender alone does not equate to excellence and ability in the director's chair.

In arguably his best performance, character actor William Talman turns in a memorable performance as the sociopath, Myers. Forget your Freddys and Jasons; Talman's portrayal creates the kind of character that nightmares are really made of. Myers is a guy you could pass on the street, or-- yes, even give a lift to if you saw him with his thumb out on the highway-- without giving him a second thought. And that's what makes him so scary; his disguise is that he doesn't have a disguise, and it's so much more effective than having a hockey mask or hands with steel fingers could ever be.

O'Brien and Lovejoy also turn in credible performances, creating characters who, like Talman's Myers, are real. Watching them, you believe that Collins is, indeed, an auto mechanic, and Bowen a draftsman; two friends off together to do some fishing.

The supporting cast includes Jose Torvay (Captain Alvarado); Jean Del Val (Inspector General); Clark Howat (Government Agent); and Natividad Vacio (Jose). The 71 minute running time is perfect for this film; rather than resort to superfluous filler, Lupino stays on task without ever straying, and in the end makes "The Hitch-Hiker" a ride that will leave you wondering what you would do in a like situation, and hoping that you'll never have to find out. It's the magic of the movies.


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