Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Hitch-Hiker** 1950's Full Thriller/Film Noir Movie

It's the true  story of the Walker boy from Arkansas who murdered the Mosser family from Illinois (at the start of the movie) in december 1950 and then kidnapped these 2 guys (amateur hunters) in Baja. He finished in the gas chamber in San Quentin in 1952.

Important to know that this was actress-turned-director Ida Lupino's fourth movie and the first film noir directed by a woman. She later created her own production company setting an example for many female directors to come ... Curator's Note: As in yesterday's Daily Dose from Kiss Me Deadly, this clip from very early in the film opens on a deserted stretch of two-lane blacktop with only a pair of legs visible. We are not going to get the complete picture, yet. We see again two headlights bearing down the road straight into a fatalistic noir nightscape. A lone figure, full encased in the shadows, hails the car down by putting his fist out. Shot by master cinematographer Nicholas Musaraca (who also lensed Out of the Past, among others) and directed by noir's only female director in the classic Hollywood period, Ida Lupino (who starred in High Sierra, among others), this opening scene makes everyone wish that Roy (Edmund O'Brien) had just kept driving. The underlying noir substance of this scene is carefully revealed through the play of light and shadow across these men's faces. The criminal element in the car will dynamically lurch out of the shadows and bring madness into these men's lives. The dialogue in the scene accentuates the tense emotional realities that play out wordlessly across Roy's and Gilbert's (Frank Lovejoy) changing facial expressions. The directing of this scene makes us feel as if we Miller, Frank. "The Hitch-Hiker (1953): There's Death in his upraised Thumb!"Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 31, 2013.are trapped inside this car with these two helpless men. By the 1950s, film noir was playing directly on growing societal fears and pressures-- the rising forces of the Cold War, consumer culture, and blacklists (FYI: the writer of this film, Daniel Manwairing was among the many famous writers blacklisted in Hollywood and he wrote The Hitch-Hiker under his pseudonym, Geoffrey Homes). The audience can no longer comfortably escape into the realm of entertainment. This film noir is a wake up call for an anxious culture. As the film's poster so brazenly promotes: "Who will be his next victim…YOU?" [Curated by Richard Edwards]
It's the true  story of the Walker boy from Arkansas who murdered the Mosser family from Illinois (at the start of the movie) in december 1950 and then kidnapped these 2 guys (amateur hunters) in Baja. He finished in the gas chamber in San Quentin in 1952.
The Hitch-Hiker
Hitch-Hiker poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIda Lupino
Produced byCollier Young
Screenplay by
Music byLeith Stevens
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
Edited byDouglas Stewart
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • March 20, 1953(Premiere-Boston)[1]
  • March 21, 1953 (US)[1]
Running time
71 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Hitch-Hiker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For similarly-named films, see Hitchhiking (disambiguation).

The Hitch-Hiker is a 1953 film noir, directed by Ida Lupino, about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterioushitchhiker during a trip to Mexico.[2]
The movie was written by Robert L. Joseph, Lupino, and her husbandCollier Young, based on a story by blacklisted Out of the Past screenwriterDaniel Mainwaring (who did not receive screen credit). The film is based on the true story of psychopathic murderer Billy Cook.
It is regarded as the first American mainstream film noir directed by a woman. The director of photographywas RKO Pictures regular Nicholas Musuraca.[3]
In 1998, The Hitch-Hiker was selected for preservation in the United StatesNational Film Registry as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."


Two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) from El Centro, California are driving toward a planned fishing trip at the Mexican town of San Felipe on the Gulf of California. Just south of Mexicali, they pick up a hitchhiker named Emmett Myers (William Talman), whose stolen car has apparently run out of gas. Myers turns out to be a psychopath who has committed multiple murders while hitch-hiking betweenIllinois and Southern California, and has managed to slip into Mexico at Mexicali. In order to evade the pursuing authorities, Myers forces the two men at gunpoint to journey deep into the heart of the Baja California Peninsula, toward the town of Santa Rosalía, where he plans to take a ferry across the Gulf of California.

Meanwhile, the men try to plot their escape from the violent, paranoid Myers. They try tactics such as sabotaging their car and leaving clues (like an engraved wedding ring) at various points on their journey. One man badly twists his ankle during an escape attempt. The sadistic Myers physically and mentally torments the men, forcing them to continue on foot and mocking their loyalty to each other by claiming that they could have escaped separately if they embraced Myers' each-man-for-himself ethos.Arriving at Santa Rosalía, Myers tries to conceal his identity by forcing one of the men to wear his clothes. Myers, upon discovering that the regular ferry to Guaymas has burned down, hires a fishing boat. However, while he is awaiting the fisherman, locals discover his status as a wanted murderer and contact authorities. Police surround the pier and, after some confusion over Myers' identity, take him into custody following a brief scuffle in which the boastful Myers is revealed to be a coward.
The film ends with the weary friends agreeing to give statements to police.


Collier Young, the ex-husband of director Ida Lupino and the co-writer of the screenplay, makes an uncredited appearance in the film as a Mexican peasant.


The Hitch-Hiker went into production on June 24, 1952 and wrapped in late July.[5]Location shooting took place in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine[6] and Big Pine, California.[7] Working titles for the film were "The Difference" and "The Persuader".[5]
Director Ida Lupino was a noted actress[8] who began directing when Elmer Clifton got sick and couldn't finish the film he was directing for Filmakers Inc., the company started by Lupino and her husband Collier Young to make low-budget, issue-oriented movies. Lupino stepped in to finish the film and went on to direct her own projects. The Hitch-Hiker was her first hard-paced, fast-moving picture after four "women's" films about social issues.[citation needed]
Lupino interviewed the two prospectors whom 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.[4] The Hitch-Hiker premiered in Boston on March 20, 1953 and immediately went into general release.[5] The film was marketed with the tagline: "When was the last time you invited death into your car?"Krewson, John. Onion A.V. Club, DVD review, March 29, 2002. Last accessed: April 23, 2008

Critical response[edit]

Frank Lovejoy, William Talman and Edmond O'Brien
A.H. Weiler, the film critic for the New York Times, gave The Hitch-Hiker a mixed review on its initial release. The acting, direction, and use of locations were praised, but the plot was deemed to be predictable.[9]
Critic John Krewson lauded the work of Ida Lupino, and wrote, "As a screenwriter and director, Lupino had an eye for the emotional truth hidden within the taboo or mundane, making a series of B-styled pictures which featured sympathetic, honest portrayals of such controversial subjects as unmarried mothers, bigamy, and The Hitch-Hiker, arguably Lupino's best film and the only true noir directed by a woman, two utterly average middle-class American men are held at gunpoint and slowly psychologically broken by a serial killer. In addition to her critical but compassionate sensibility, Lupino had a great filmmaker's eye, using the starkly beautiful street scenes in Not Wanted and the gorgeous, ever-present loneliness of empty highways in The Hitch-Hiker to set her characters apart.[10]Time Out Film Guide wrote of the film, "Absolutely assured in her creation of the bleak, noir atmosphere – whether in the claustrophobic confines of the car, or lost in the arid expanses of the desert – Lupino never relaxes the tension for one moment. Yet her emotional sensitivity is also upfront: charting the changes in the menaced men's relationship as they bicker about how to deal with their captor, stressing that only through friendship can they survive. Taut, tough, and entirely without macho-glorification, it's a gem, with first-class performances from its three protagonists, deftly characterised without resort to cliché."[11]

In January 2014, a restored 35mm print was premiered by the Film Noir Foundation at Noir City 12 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. On, April 6, 2014 The Hitch-Hikerwas shown again at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Mary Ann Anderson author ofThe Making of The Hitch-Hiker appeared at this event.Silver, Alain, and Elizabeth Ward, eds. Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, film noir analysis by Bob Porfiero and Alain Silver, page 130, 3rd edition, 1992. New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5.

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