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The Hitch-Hiker
The Hitch-Hiker
Actors: Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, Josť Torvay, Sam Hayes
Director: Ida Lupino
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     1999     1hr 11min

Ida Lupino, Hollywood's sole female filmmaker of the 1950s, directs an all-male cast in a taut, 70-minute thriller. Frank Lovejoy and Edmund O'Brien are two war buddies taking a break from the wives for a Mexican fishing t...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, Josť Torvay, Sam Hayes
Director: Ida Lupino
Creators: Nicholas Musuraca, Ida Lupino, Christian Nyby, Collier Young, Daniel Mainwaring, Robert L. Joseph
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: ROAN
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 10/26/1999
Original Release Date: 04/29/1953
Theatrical Release Date: 04/29/1953
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 11min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

WARNING
10/07/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD version of the film "The Hitch-Hiker" offered for sale by the Roan Group does not play on various DVD players. Roan is aware of this problem, but does not advertise it. I have (unfortunately) purchased two copies of this DVD and in each case, the DVD freezes after the first few seconds of the standard introductory warning.The film itself is an important noir by an important actress and director, Ida Lupino. It is well worth seeing, but buying it from the Roan Group will not necessarily give you the opportunity to view it. Buy it from KINO if you want to see it."
Riveting Noir Thriller. Lupino's Best.
Interplanetary Funksmanship | Vanilla Suburbs, USA | 10/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Hitch-hiker" is a largely forgotten and overlooked gem in the thriller/film-noir genre. It is also Ida Lupino's best directorial effort for the big screen. For years, Lupino graced the silver screen as an actress, most notably in "They Drive by Night" and "High Sierra" (both with Bogart). In the late 1940s, Lupino formed her own production company, The Filmakers with producer/writer husband Collier Young.

The movie follows a pair of war vets, Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy who get some R and R from their wives to go fishing, and sneak off to Mexicali to troll for dames along the way. As you might well guess, they pick up even worse trouble in the form of hitchhiker Emmett Myers, played with a menacing edge by William Talman.

Myers forces the two to provide safe passage in their beat-up car down the Baja California peninsula to Santa Rosalia, where he can catch a ferry to the Mexico mainland.

The ride along the way is a harrowing trip, the suspense notched up by Young and Collier's excellent screenwriting. Daniel Mainwaring adds a lot of excellent noir dialogue in his uncredited contribution.

While O'Brien gives his usual competent good guy performance, Lovejoy and Talman really make this movie. Lovejoy gives this movie its heart: We sympathize with his character when he attempts to protect and reassure a little Mexican girl when the three stop at a dry goods store to stock up on groceries. Talman plays the killer Myers a bit off-kilter, his lean, elongated figure dominating the other two, his lazy, all-seeing eye holding them hostage while Myers yet sleeps. Talman's powerful performance looks forward to Rutger Hauer's portrayal in Robert Harmon's 1984 "The Hitcher" and Dennis Hopper in most everything he's been in since "Blue Velvet."

What most rings true with "The Hitch-hiker" is Lupino's use of actual shooting locations as opposed to set backdrops, and the cinema verite feel she gives in having her Mexican actors -- most importantly, the DF trooper who hunts down Myers -- speak in Spanish, without subtitles and without caricature. It almost has a documentary feel.

But what really makes this movie gel is RKO's sterling crew, which Lupino hired to put this movie together. One of the reasons this movie has more of a 1940s than 1950s feel is the unparalleled cinematography of Nicholas Musaraca, who was cameraman for many of RKO's best productions, most notably "Cat People" and "Out of the Past" (both directed by Jacques Tourneur). Who else but Musaraca could make a workaday Plymouth sedan appear so dominating and intimidating at it looms over the lonely dirt roads of the Mexican back country?

Musaraca's use of key lighting and deep shadows to heighten the tension really have you sitting on the edge of your seat, as does Leith Stevens' brass-heavy scoring, brimming over with trumpets as a counterpart to the car's horn and string basses portending doom with what legendary movie composer David Raksin called "fifthboding."

C. Bakaleinikoff, the great unsung conductor of RKO's soundtracks, directs with his characteristic Sturm und Drang he used in "Out of the Past" and Hitchcock's "Notorious" (1946).

Sound technicians Roy Meadows and Clem Portman mix the score, sound effects and dialogue superbly, employing a rich bass and a full, robust midrange. Characteristic of 1940s and 50s sound, you can identify every line of dialogue without any neck craning. Compare that with today's special effects extravaganzas, full of Foley effects and swoosh and clang aural graituity, in which most whispers are yet barely audible. Try as they might, today's Hollywood still can't produce a film comparable in technical consistency to the old studio system.

Personally, I rank "The Hitch-hiker" in my Top 10 favorite noir movies of all time. It belongs in such august company as "Double Indemnity," "DOA," "White Heat" and "Out of the Past.""
Middle-class Nightmare
Douglas Doepke | Claremont, CA United States | 12/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Sure, the script seldom rises above potboiler status and the locations are familiar from a thousand Lone Pine cowboy shoots. Still, this unpretentious little suspenser really delivers the goods that will keep you on edge. The cast of three is outstanding. Was there ever a more low-key performer than Frank Lovejoy or anyone better at representing Joe Average. Edmond O'Brien calibrates as usual, making a credible companion to the laidback Lovejoy. Then there's William Talman in his pre-Perry Mason days, scaring the heck out of everyone with his bug-eyed psycho bit -- too bad he gave up the nuthouse for TV and a steady payday. Put a gun in Talman's hand and pack all three into a tight little car traveling to nowhere and you have a good view of 1950's middle-class nightmare. Hats off to pioneering woman director Ida Lupino for getting the most out of a boilerplate special. Potential buyers could do a lot worse."
Horrible copy of a good movie !
Brad Lloyd | Tulsa, Oklahoma | 04/01/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I believe Alpha Videos spent more time and money on the boxing cover of this good film noir movie than they did on the clean up of it !
The movie starts off very splotchy during the credits, cleans up a little bit
but goes in and out of bad and very bad on the sound and picture.
The ending scene is so dark, I have no idea what is going on.
Alpha should be ashamed of themselves for putting this garbage out!
I guess at this price I got what I paid for!!
"