director Ida Lupino
I’d watched Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker some years ago with my dad. I remember it because he was staying with me and my wife at the time and we’d decided to rent something from Le Video. And as I was a film student probably at the time, I was more inclined to exploration than the latest rentals. So, I had selected it. And I remember that both of us liked it.
Oddly enough, I don’t know that I’ve had the chance to watch another of her films since that time, though I’ve been meaning to and wanting to.
The Hitch-Hiker is a tense, taut film noir, based on a real series of crimes that happened only a few years before in which a brutal thug went on a killing spree, cruising around as a hitch-hiker and knocking off those who fell into his way.
In Lupino’s film, Edmund O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are two buddies heading out fishing, who decide to detour down to Mexico and stop to help a guy who seems to have run out of gas. Their act of kindness is repaid by the killer played by a fantastic William Talman with a nasty kidnapping and promise of death. Isolated in the Mexican desert, they are at the mercy of the man who holds the gun, taunting and intimidating them.
In what may be the film’s best scene, he forces on man to hold a bottle while the other tries to shoot it. Like some of the best of genre films, the simplicity of the set-up is its own rich scenario.
A true classic, semi-obscure as it may be.