The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

The Hitch-Hiker was made in 1953 by actress turned director Ida Lupino. It is one of the only noir films directed by a woman. The story is based on true incidents involving hitchhiker/spree killer Billy Cook from 1950-51.

The film stars Edmond O’Brien as Roy Collins, an escaped convict who takes up hitchhiking to avoid authorities. He cons Gilbert Bowen (played by Frank Lovejoy) and Emmett Myers (played by William Talman), in the midst of a trip to go fishing and relax, into giving him a ride. From there on out they embark on a tension filled journey through Mexico as Collins seeks permanent solitude.

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One of the strongest elements of The Hitch-Hiker is the acting. Each of the three main characters give incredibly convincing performances and really drive the movie forward. There is also an interesting study of friendship as Bowen and Myers continually pass up opportunities to escape individually.

One particularly emotional moment comes when all three characters enter a Mexican convenient store to pick up food and supplies. Bowen, who has a child/children (I can’t recall of the top of my head which), hugs the storeowners young daughter. The look on his face and remark for her to “go with God” masterfully express how much he misses his family.

The Hitch-Hiker is also an interesting analysis of the difference between true strength and masculinity as opposed to fear and paranoia. At one point Myers, who begins to break down much quicker than Bowen, even confronts Collins about this directly. The acting and story combine for an edge of your seat experience throughout the movie.

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One minor weakness is the films semi-predictable ending. I will say that though it could be guessed, I remained engaged till the last moment. Watching the movie and becoming engrossed made the ending, while obvious on paper, less predictable than some may claim.

Overall, the film comes highly recommended from me. It is “short, sweet, and to the point” as some may say. It’s also in the public domain, therefor it is quite easy to access. Any fan of the noir genre or those interested in films directed by women will find an enjoyable viewing experience in The Hitch-Hiker.

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