The Hitch-Hiker

William Talman in The Hitch-Hiker (dir. Ida Lupino, 1953).

Taut and scary. William Talman, who went on to play DA Hamilton Burger in the Perry Mason TV series, is beautifully understated as the psychotic serial murderer Emmett Myers, who hitches rides from unsuspecting motorists and dispatches them when convenient. Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy play two hooky-playing husbands who get snared in his web when they sneak down to Mexico for some R & R. Ida Lupino directs, keeping everything at a breathless pace: you feel like one of the poor lunkheads in the car with Myers, just waiting for him to decide you're finally useless to him. Some of the least stereotypical depictions I've seen in films from the period of Mexican characters, most of them actually played by Latino actors.

1 comment:

OutOfContext said...

I DVR'd a bunch of Lupino movies on TCM, including the Hitch-Hiker and was surprised at how well-done it was and the economical storytelling. While the killer's inability to close one eye could have been gimicky, Lupino and Talman did a good job of making it menacing. And every time I thought some behavior or circumstance unbelievable, a plausible explanation popped up.
I agree about the participatory feel. A lot of that may have to do with Lupino's affinity for mounting cameras inside vehicles.