7.0/10
5,988
87 user 58 critic

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 29 April 1953 (Italy)
Two fishermen pick up a psychotic escaped convict who tells them that he intends to murder them when the ride is over.

Director:

Ida Lupino

Writers:

Collier Young (screenplay), Ida Lupino (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edmond O'Brien ... Roy Collins
Frank Lovejoy ... Gilbert Bowen
William Talman ... Emmett Myers
José Torvay ... Captain Alvarado (as Jose Torvay)
Sam Hayes Sam Hayes ... Radio Broadcaster
Wendell Niles Wendell Niles ... Wendell Niles (as Wendel Niles)
Jean Del Val ... Inspector General
Clark Howat ... Government Agent
Natividad Vacío 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 duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who'll be his next victim... YOU? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

29 April 1953 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Persuader See more »

Filming Locations:

Big Pine, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's poster was as #23 of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere. See more »

Goofs

When the men remove the tire from the car, it is fully inflated as the profile of the tread appears to be convex. The tread of a flat tire would appear straight across or concave. See more »

Quotes

Emmett Myers: I had a watch like this once when I was 17. Nobody gave it to me. I just took it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: 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 The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Post-War Cinema (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Violin Concerto No 2 in E Minor, Op 64--Andante
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ex-Convict Myers Suspect In Hitch-Hike Atrocities
5 February 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Out of RKO Radio Pictures, The Hitch-Hiker is directed by Ida Lupino and jointly adapted to the screen by Lupino, Collier Young and Daniel Mainwaring. It stars Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy & William Talman. Nicholas Musuraca photographs the film and Leith Stevens scores the music.

"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".

The above opening salvo from the film is not without merit, tho due to the Hays Office requirements Lupino had to tone down her initial plans for the film. The story is based on the true story of murderer Billy Cook, who in 1950 posed as a hitch-hiker and murdered a family of five and a travelling salesman. The film picks up with the aftermath of that, where Cook then kidnapped two friends out hunting and forced them at gunpoint to drive him across the border into Mexico. Lupino researched her subject well, even interviewing the principals in the kidnapping.

Something of a cult favourite these days, The Hitch-Hiker is a brisk, lean and tight film showing how to get the maximum amount of suspense out of the simplest of set-ups. Practically a three character piece, the film thrives on claustrophobia and an impending sense of dread. Even when the characters come out of the confines of the car, we still feel stifled during the sequences that feature the men out in the desert. There's a sense of desolation in the landscape that marries up with the emotional state of our two kidnapped men. It's fine work by Lupino, who never lets the mood slip. She in turn is aided considerably by her writers and Musuraca's photography. The former cleverly only lets the kidnapped men's personalities unfold once they are seized by Talman's psychopath, the latter brings film noir agoraphobia to the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, location: A place that was often shown to be gorgeous in many a fine Western in the 50s.

All three lead actors do good work under Lupino's direction, with Talman particularly menacing, all lazy eye and snarly grins. While Stevens' music sits nicely with the tone of the story. Credit Lupino, too, for not letting her male driven movie contain any machismo posturing, or heaven forbid, testosterone fuelled bravado. Where the film does fall down is with its rather anti-climatic finale. For although the real life finale involving Billy Cook was genuinely mundane, the film's ending is also a bit of a damp squib. It's one of those cases where some poetic licence wouldn't have gone amiss. Still, it's far from a deal breaker, the film remains a taut and moodily enjoyable experience. 7.5/10


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